Mummert Jan 2003 Ed Note - Canned Spam
By Hallie Mummert
Not only has the volume of spam in my work e-mail inbox been on the rise, I'm being targeted by spammers that help others create and send spam! At least once a week I get an offer to buy millions of e-mail addresses. The sales hook is that e-mail is cheap and far more effective than other types of Internet marketing or, for that matter, print marketing.
Well, this statement is partly true, but what's missing is the section about list quality and ethical address collection that helps make for an effective campaign. Then there's the issue of the long-term viability of this channel if companies continue to blitz people with whom they have no relationship—and no inkling of whether they are good prospects for their offers.
I would hope that no veteran direct marketer would fall for the sales presentations in these efforts. The following examples are pretty true to form of most of the offers extended to me:
Spam #1: I can buy 400 million e-mail addresses on a CD set for $139, but 7 million of those addresses are from China. What's more, the only contact information listed is an e-mail address for Superstud@btamail.net.cn. Someone who sells questionable e-mail addresses via spam is not a Superstud in my book.
Spam #2: Another spammer even explains how expensive and time-consuming direct mail and space advertising is. Why go to all that trouble for just one exposure, when you can send millions of e-mails daily to the same people until you get a response, it asks? Plus, this spammer promises that its technology will prevent my ISP (I think it means my ISP account) from getting terminated. After all, it reminds recipients, the same technology was just used to spam me. A comforting thought, to be sure.
My advice to Target Marketing readers is to rent e-mail addresses only from reputable list managers/owners; identify your company, product and offer in crystal-clear language and graphics; only contact customers and inquirers when you have a good reason to do so; and allow e-mail recipients to control the frequency of contact—even if that means no contact.
If we do not practice thoughtful e-mail marketing, it won't be long before our customers and prospects invite the Federal Trade Commission to do our thinking for us.