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Famous Last Words : Does Your Email Matter?

September 2012 By Denny Hatch
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Recently, I had occasion to go into my long-abandoned, never-used (but never canceled) AOL account and discovered 9,321 emails waiting for me. I was appalled.

It is unimaginable to me that I never responded to more than 9,000 personalized messages, and yet hundreds of writers continue to this day dumping their work into the sewer that is my old AOL account.

Clearly, these people are using lists that are dirtier than a Pascagoula pelican washed ashore in BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

After 50 years in direct marketing, I still have great reverence for the magic of a letter—one-to-one communication—whether personal correspondence or a sales pitch. You send someone a letter because you want a reply. That can only happen when you keep your lists clean.

'Just Cleaning My List'
What triggered this column was the above subject line of an email from direct marketing guru J.F. (Jim) Straw. His message:

Hey Gang,

It's that time again … time to refresh and renew ... so, I'm cleaning my list of all the nixies.
If you want to stay on the list, DO NOTHING.
If you DO NOT want to be on my list any more, just hit reply with "Remove" in the subject line.
Either way, I appreciate having had an opportunity to serve you and look forward to serving you many, many more years to come ... good Lord willing.
Keep well ...

Jim Straw is a class act. I like being on his list.

Phone Call From a Professional
Once an aeon, my phone will ring and a P.R. person will ask about a press release she had sent me. We quickly discover it had been sent to my old AOL inbox, and I tell her to re-send it to me at my Yahoo address.

I always read it and send an email reply—thanking her for thinking of me and telling her that this story is not relevant to my beat, but ask her to keep in touch. Occasionally I'll pick up on the story and use it.

As a result, the P.R. rep has my Yahoo address, so she knows her client's information will reach me. From my point of view, I recognize her name, know she is a consummate professional and I will read her press release.

 
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