My $400 Bagel and Cup of Coffee this Morning

Published by: Andrew Paul    |   Category: Blog, Email Marketing, Ramblings    

$400 BagelOn my way into work this morning I decided to stop and pick up bagels for the office and a cup of coffee for myself. As I pulled up to the bagel store, I noticed that I was 5 minutes early, because they hadn’t opened yet. So, I parked and got online behind the 3 people standing at the front door waiting for the store to open. I only waited about 10 minutes, but by the time they opened the doors, there must have been 20 people waiting in line behind me. Since there were only 2 people behind the counter, it seemed to be moving pretty slowly. When it was my turn to order, the guy in line directly behind me leaned over my shoulder and asked the girl who was getting ready to help me if he could try the cinnamon raisin bagel. They had samples of each of the bagels cut up for customer to ‘try before they buy’ behind the counter. The counter girl politely asked the customer to wait his turn and asked me what I needed. Before I could give her my order, the guy behind me quickly interrupted me again and said he simply wanted to try a piece of the cinnamon raisin bagel. The girl behind the counter said she would be with him as soon as she finished with me. I attempted to try and give her my order again and once again, this annoying guy interrupted me and said, “Just give me a piece of that bagel to try”.  At this point, I turned to him and explained that I was next and as soon as I get my order he could try as many different bagels as he would like. He looked at me with a blank, somewhat dumbfounded look on his face and went silent. While I thought that was it and began to place my order, you guessed it, he interrupted me again and in a pissed off tone said he wanted to just try a piece of that cinnamon raisin bagel.

As you can imagine, by this point I was getting twisted and somewhat aggravated at this clown, for his continual interruptions and I figured I better put an end to his ongoing obstruction in my attempt to get my bagels and the cup of coffee I came for, so I could make it to work without a pit stop at the police station for assault. Without taking another breath, I asked the girl behind the counter how much it would cost for all of the bagels they had. After a few seconds of her comprehending my question, she turned around, looked at the rack of bagels, turned back around and said, “I’m not sure…. Maybe $400”. I then said, “OK, I’ll take them all. Give me a black cup of coffee and bag up 2 dozen bagels for me. Then give everyone else in line, except this guy standing behind me, all of the bagels they want for free – my treat.”

As the ear-to-ear smile slowly appeared on the counter girls face and the guy behind me started bitching and saying “you can’t do that”, I simply turned to him and said, “Yes I can – and – I just did”. After I finally got my cup of coffee and bagels and walked out of the store, a few people in line behind me thanked me and the ‘cinnamon raisin, impatient, bagel taster guy’ stormed out bitching about something and mumbling under his breath.

Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. Besides the moral of the story being, “Don’t be an interrupting asshole and wait your turn”, I started thinking about people being over-aggressive, not being patient and waiting their turn. Since I am involved in the email marketing space, this brought me to think about why companies are over-aggressive and send their email campaigns non-stop and how their overzealous campaign strategy can alienate their customers, piss people off and lead to unsubscribes.

Don’t Annoy your Customer with your Email Marketing Strategy

Most people think the more they send to their email list, the better chances they have of converting a new lead or sale. In actuality, the more you send, the more your engagement per campaign goes down. If you over send to your email list, besides the reduction in engagement, you’ll also have to consider that your subscribers might think you’re spamming them, and exit your list very quickly. There is no magic number when it comes to the frequency of email campaigns or newsletters you send to your customers on a weekly or monthly basis. Be sure to send them relevant information and don’t simply send, just to send. Keep your subscribers loyal and don’t give them a reason to opt-out. Make your message relevant and to the point. Find what feels to be a comfortable middle ground and send relevant information and tweak the frequency based on campaign engagement.

We find that sending to our customers and newsletter recipients twice per month is the sweet spot for us, although this is not set in stone. If we have more to share, we’ll send more often and if we have less to share… well, you get the idea.

8/19 Update:
So, for Shawn (last name omitted on purpose) from Newsweek and the 2 other emails I received questioning the validity of the events in the bagel store, I’ve posted the receipt below.

Bagel Store Receipt




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9 Responses to My $400 Bagel and Cup of Coffee this Morning

  1. Lydia Sugarman says:

    Brilliant! …in every way!

  2. Sharon says:

    Excellent article. We have always struggled with this. Inform, not overload. We have it down to one newsletter a month to our entire “permission list” and every Monday at 1:00 a short article, for a specific audience. Our “opt outs” are down to maybe 1 if any. e mail marketing and follow up both fall into the category of prunes – is one enough are three too many.

  3. Warren Corpus says:

    I never got to try that cinnamon raisin bagel, a**hole – hopefully I’ll beat you to the line tomorrow.


  4. Andrew Paul says:

    Was that you this morning Warren? So you were the a**hole screaming in my ear and interrupting me every time I tried to order my bagel and coffee.

    I’ll pay closer attention tomorrow.


  5. Mark L says:

    That is hysterical.

  6. Bill G says:

    Some may think you made this story up. But knowing you Andy, I do not doubt it for a minute. Did you save me a bagel?

  7. Andrew Paul says:

    Bill – Sorry, all of the bagels are gone.

    I’ve also added an update to the story putting to bed all of the doubters. Touché

  8. Joshua Arnold says:

    Nice read Andrew, but I disagree with the statement about loosing engagement if you send more frequently. Like with most email topics there are always caveats; If’s and but’s. From B2C point of view, it’s proven that more you send, the more you revenue you make. If you combine this with RFM modelling of your database then, I don’t believe you will loose engagement. Of course, if you are selling weak or services expect nothing less than a weak response. B2B is a very different and I would always come from an educational angle point of view and certainly not as frequently send as a B2C focused customer. I think the main point of this reply is backed up by the major e-commerce companies sending one email every three days.

  9. Andrew Paul says:

    Joshua – Thanks for your comment, but I would tend to disagree with your statement. In 2013, the top reason for unsubscribes (35%) was frequency. Obviously, the optimal send frequency varies by user and the type of business, product or service they are promoting. The optimal frequency varies based on the audience and their expectations for the content they’re receiving. While I believe the days of “Send-Send-Send and then Send some more” are over and have been since 2005, I advise our customers to find a comfortable middle ground that feels balanced between individual campaign engagement and overall periodic engagement. The simple idea of “More is Less” seems to work well and produce the best results for our customers.