Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Direct Mail vs. Spam

Recently, I received a promotional letter from the phone company encouraging me to bundle my services which for me would mean adding more services to what I currently have.  The letter was exactly the same as the two previous letters I'd received from the phone company.  Confession: I don't read letters like this carefully.  I skim them.  So, from what I read, they were exactly the same.  You'd think the phone company would stop sending me these letters and save postage.  I'm not responding to them.

The cable company does the same thing as the phone company.  I just shake my head and throw the letters away.  What a waste of paper!  The irony is that promotional direct mail mailings increased after I changed my services (the phone company) or called regarding my bill (cable company).  In both contacts I told the customer service rep that I did not want anything more than I'd already chosen of the services they offered.  Clearly, customer service does not talk to the marketing departments.

My work background includes over ten years in advertising and marketing.  When I left, I wanted to get away from the mind set required to work in that business.  So I willfully forgot a great deal, including the basic premise of direct marketing -- it's like throwing cooked spaghetti at a wall, repeatedly, to see what sticks.  I think the rationale is if a customer changed something about her services, maybe we can persuade her to change more

I understand that.  What I don't understand is spam.  Occasionally, I'll open a spam e-mail just to see what the message is.  I have one e-mail account that receives predominantly spam advertising Canadian pharmacies or great deals on internet drugs.  Another e-mail account receives lots of sexually oriented spam and loan offers, along with that scam about checking on the delivery status of a package.  Another account predominantly draws scams about working with a foreigner to claim either an inheritance or a monetary prize.  I have two e-mail accounts that receive little to no spam, and another that receives few spam e-mails.  The advertising message in spam is awful -- not at all creative or clever, enticing or interesting.

The amount of e-mail spam I receive far outnumbers what I receive through direct mail.  I trash all of it.  My curiosity about response rate for spam sent me on an internet search.  I found this figure at from November 2008: a 0.00001 percent response rate or one in 12.5 million.  Would online spam marketers stop spamming us if the response rate were higher?  I doubt it.  They'd probably come back at us with even more spam.  Does deleting spam without opening help to stop it?  I think it must decrease the amount, plus having a good spam filter helps.

We see probably hundreds of ads online on a weekly basis.  Sell, sell, sell.  That's what makes our society run, especially if we then buy, buy, buy.  Advertising tends to fall on deaf ears and blind eyes with me -- I see through it fairly quickly or end up admiring how it was done.  What do I pay attention to?  Reviews of products, movies, books, services, etc.  They are a far more effective method of persuasion on me than direct mail or spam....


Charlie Quimby said...

This morning I opened my email to find only one email labeled: "Mail thinks this message is Junk Mail."

I, too, usually trash these if I don't recognize the sender but at least scan new come-ons I haven't seen before.

I searched to ferret out the gimmick. This one contained a hyperlink, which was presented fairly innocuously, but of course, I didn't click.

After reading a bit, I thought, this one is smooth, really subtle and well-written, so I went back to the top and read it through. Were they trying to sell me some kind of web tracking service? Had they used it to find out I had just upgraded my cable service yesterday?

Finally, it dawned on me. This finely crafted spam was from you! I hadn't added your address to my email after subscribing. It's there now.

Gina said...

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, Charlie! Thanks for following the blog. Looking forward to more fun and well-written comments!