Spam- It’s What’s For Dinner!

February 10, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Posted in Email Marketing | Leave a comment
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MMM Spam!

The advent of the Internet in the 1990s was a great thing. The current interconnectedness of the world, efficiency of the workplace and speed of news distribution can all be attributed to it. Personally, I can’t picture my life without the ‘Net, personally and professionally.

90% of my work day revolves around my computer: emailing, managing our PPC account, sending electronic newsletters to customers, researching competition. You name it, I’m doing it on the Internet. (Ok, maybe not everything…don’t worry, Dad.) What I mean is that we hold meetings online, we can chat face-to-face with clients across the world, and we’re able to retrieve and disperse information instantaneously.

In my personal time, I’m constantly uploading pictures to Flickr, chatting with friends on Facebook, reading some hilarious blogs, updating my Twitter status, or wasting hours playing this game. (don’t try it if you’re competitive and you have less than an hour of spare time lol)

Oh, the glories of the Web!

But is it all sunshine & fairy dust?

fairy dust!With the rise of the Internet came the rise of identity theft and spam. I’m sure they are 2 things the world could have lived without. Because of the poor actions of few, many spend time defending the security and legitimacy of business conducted over the Web. (Side note: according to Wikipedia, 80% of spam is sent by fewer than 200 spammers!)

When I send out an electronic contract to customers, asking for a digital signature capture, there is almost always some sort of question about the security of it.

When I ask customers for their email address to send over a newsletter, they want to know what it will be used for. They are worried about their inbox being flooded with spam…and I can’t blame them! Wikipedia states that in June 2007, 100 billion pieces of spam were sent out each day! That means 90% of all incoming email traffic at the time was spam.

CAN-SPAM, Can you Spam, Spam-a-lot, Spam in a Can?

In 2003, the CAN-SPAM Act was passed which helps the FTC to regulate the transmission of spam and pornography through email. E-mailers are now required to include a valid return address and opt-out information on all commercial email messages that are sent. Although the act was designed to prevent spam, there are no provisions in the Act which require e-mailers to get permission before sending marketing messages. This doesn’t mean it’s a free-for-all if you’re running a legitimate and ethical business, though. (See my thoughts on “opt-in” below.)

Since the CAN-SPAM Act was signed, technological advancements by ISPs have reduced the number of spam messages that users actually see. Many spam messages are trapped in spam filters, keeping inboxes (relatively) clear. Needless to say, you still get that occasional email from Viagra or the Prince of Nigeria. And even though the amount of spam Americans receive has leveled off, they are still skeptical about email marketing- unless they have requested it.

What’s in the future for marketers?

No SPAM!Opt-in email marketing: it’s as simple as that. Ask your audience for their permission before sending emails. Whether you collect their information on your website, as they become a customer, from an email they send to you- make sure you ask them for permission before sending out a marketing message.

In addition to getting your customers’ permission to send them emails, let them know what the value is! A customer will be much more willing to release their personal info if they are getting something of value out of it.

Sending a newsletter? Let them know that they’ll learn tips & tricks about the software they’re using. Sending coupons? Tell them that they’ll be saving money on the products they already buy. Sending press releases? Let them know they’ll be the first to know about breaking news about the company. A customer’s information is a valuable commodity for marketers- it will not just be given up without a trade-off.

Something else to consider is frequency of emails. Every 3 months? The customer will forget your company. Every 3 hours? You will have more un-subscribe requests than you can handle. Take a lesson from Victoria’s Secret and understand that the customer does not want to receive multiple emails from you every day. If possible, ask your recipients how often they would like to receive emails from your company…and then follow those recommendations!

Although email marketing has gotten a bad reputation due to spam, there is still a way to use it correctly and see a good ROI:

  1. Ask for permission
  2. Provide value
  3. Don’t bombard them

I’m interested to hear what other marketing professionals think about email marketing. Have you run into any problems? Have you seen an incredible ROI with this method? What are your thoughts?


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