A day ago I vented my disappointment at a sneaky marketing gambit inside ZoneAlarm’s otherwise excellent free firewall software, which scared the user into running an external spyware scanner in the hope of getting them to upgrade. This morning I received word from their PR department that this promotion “has been turned off. The wording was not optimal, and we sincerely regret any inconvenience or frustrations it caused our users. Also, your story has prompted us to create a new approval process for any outbound promotions including multiple departments, to ensure that we maintain the highest integrity in our marketing efforts.”
I’m very impressed. I’m not suggesting my post prompted this — it sounds like it was in the works anyway — but this kind of close and timely monitoring of blogs is just the kind of iniatitive PR departments should be involved in, and just what I was going on about in a recent diatribe about Nokia, who seem little interested in customers who have less than perfect experience in the company’s ‘Care Centres’.
Good work, ZoneAlarm.
As I’d mentioned in my article in regards to this. They should have known better to begin with. They had in fact used this same marketing method in the past in a different way. The reaction from most people online was the same then as it was this time around. They should have learned their lesson the first time around.
I had terrible issues with zone. I bought two licenses of the full software. When the “subscription” expired a year later, ALL the notifications said “unknown program” instead of the actual program. Its not a product, its a service. They dont make this clear: Your product will be forever crippled if you dont pay us continually.
I sent them emails asking for a refund and all I got was this f**ing tshirt.
hm. i’d be interested to know if they “suggested” (in their note to you), that you write about the turnaround… you’re right that companies should definitely be watching blogs and other word-of-mouth avenues for PR, but i always worry at how far they would push their “usage” if we let them.
Seth Stevenson’s recent ad report card “Is Burger King trying to put one over on me?” (http://www.slate.com/id/2128569/?nav=fo) goes into this a bit…
Thank, Shiraz, for your comment. No, ZoneLabs didn’t suggest I write anything, although of course they were doubtless pleased I did. I think in this case there’s not much of word-of-mouth thing going on here, just good blog watching by PR departments and damage limitation. I don’t expect there not to be more problems with this and other companies, but I think it’s fair to throw bouquets as well as brickbats when they’re warranted.
I wonder whose decision it is inside the software company to choose such a tactic. I think this points to a bigger problem with the company as w hole. The fact that the software itself is excellent shows that the programmers are doing their job well, and understand what needs to be done. But the person deciding to try and trick users into upgrading does not know their users. The sad fact is people are so used to being bullied and duped by software they don’t even fight back anymore.