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Before and After: Novartis’ Awful CML Earth Email

Posted Dec 03 2009 2:10am
Previously I applauded the efforts of Novartis to embrace social media with the launch of CML Earth, their online community for people with chronic myeloid leukemia. When I reviewed the site I signed up as a member, and yesterday I received this email that shows they just don’t get it (yellow number citations are mine).


Novartis, it’s about personality, authenticity, being a real person who can be trusted! So what’s my problem with this email? Let me count the ways…

1) Subject Line — It’s not terrible, and they get points for being direct. But it’s very “me” centered, generic, and doesn’t provide a compelling reason to open the email.

2) From e-Mail Address — You’ve got to be kidding me. The mail actually comes from “DoNotReply”? I can’t imagine a less personal or caring address. In fact, in this day and age it’s downright offensive.

3) Salutation — This form email is inserting the member name into the greeting which is good. At first the “Dear” preface seemed a bit formal to me, but the average age of someone with CML is mid-60’s so probably appropriate to be a bit more formal in this email.

4) Body Copy — This is admittedly nitpicky but the paragraph block is too long and uses some passive voice which should be minimized.

5) Call to Action — Still impersonal but it’s good they actually have a call to action and remind the reader of the total number of members in the community.

6) Signature — Formal and impersonal. Yuck.

7) Footer — “Please do not reply.” Doesn’t that give you a warm and fuzzy feeling?

“Hey, it’s easy to take pot shots from the cheap seats,” you might say. Well, let me show you how this email should have been crafted.

First, there should be one or more patient leaders who actively lead the community. The monthly emails should come from them, not from a Novartis employee or a “DoNotReply” automated message. I’ll use my own name as the community leader for the example below. A rewrite might look like:


Subject: You can now add Caregivers to CML Earth

Hi <FirstName>,

I’m sure you know that CML Earth lets those of us with chronic myeloid leukemia connect with one another online. There are over 2,000 members in the community and I personally have made friends with people from all around the world. But of course we also know that CML affects our family, friends and other “Caregivers.”

The good news is that CML Earth is now open to Caregivers as well. Their stories, experiences and participation with our group will certainly inspire, educate and support all of us.

Please invite your loved ones to join CML Earth by forwarding this email or sending them this link:

And please log back in to CML Earth yourself to connect and encourage our new members.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for how we can make our CML Earth community even stronger.


Kevin Kruse

See the difference? Feel the difference?

What is a shame is that Novartis is a great company and Gleevac is a real miracle drug. I know the Gleevac team truly cares about the CML community. Unfortunately, the team managing CML Earth seems to be ignorant of social media, community culture, and maybe even copy-writing which led to an amateurish and probably ineffective email.

What do you think?

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