How much SPAM is OK?

IT Culture, SMB
Comments Off on How much SPAM is OK?

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I don’t care what you sell, the last person on the Internet you want to mess with is the guy that runs one of the largest message hygiene networks around. I receive well over a thousand legitimate business messages a day, excluding monitoring, reports, newsletters, mailing lists or commercial junk. I have the non-business mailings down to a science, before I ever read anything I look if it came as a SPAM newsletter or an actual communication. I build an adequate rule. Between all our vendors, suppliers, partners and associates I receive well over a thousand junk messages a day that are automatically filtered into a Newsletters public folder.

Simply put, you have to write a heck of a memorable message for me to remember you.

God help you if you SPAM me, and I remember your company name the second time your SPAM comes in. You are never (ever, ever, ever) getting my business again.

I buy a lot of stuff online. What can I say, I’m a busy guy and I live in a tourist city so the smell of Coppertone and burned british folks who haven’t yet discovered deodorant makes going to the mall a very unpleasant experience. I recently purchased two items online, from two different vendors. Here are their messages:

Vendor A: Blah

Monday: Vladimir: Your Exclusive BLAH 10% Member Discount
Tuesay: Another Chance for Sweet Savings – 20% off any purchase
Friday: Preseason Sandal Sale – 20% off!
Friday: Spring Fashion Sale – $15 off all Fashion Shoes $50
Friday: Your recent BLAH order

I have intentionally left out the single legitimate communication on this list: my tracking number for the purchase I made on Monday, which according to UPS still has not shipped. What does this tell me about Vendor A? Well, first that they are incompetent and that they can’t fill the order in 4+ business days. Second, that they likely have financial problems if they stoop to such a pushy marketing campaign to get sales.

Vendor B: Finish Line

This order was mine, pair of Adidas shoes. Same industry as the above. Bought on Tuesday morning: Order was filled by noon and an invoice was sent to me immediately with another $15 off $75 purchase in the same email. Smart. I am going to nuke an advertisement right away, but I am not nuking the invoice – and chances are I will see it again and more likely to come back. End of day, UPS tracking number with the package already picked up from the shippers facility. Since then, no SPAM.

The frequency of your communication is equivalent to the extent of your desperation

I have a very simple rule, direct non-business mail should come in with at least a seven day interval, unless it is an urgent notification that the previous communication was incorrect (change of venue, change of time, change of offer, corrections, etc)

Anything not directly related to a business transaction is SPAM. I do not need an invitation Monday, a reminder on Tuesday, a peer review promo on Wednesday, an incentive email on Thursday night and a last minute fire sale email on Monday morning alerting me that the earth may fall off its axis if I don’t attend.

It’s in poor taste, poor form, and it cheapens anything valuable you may have to say otherwise. It clearly communicates that last ditch of desperation, where one more email may lead to one more sale.

Today’s consumer is more like a hot girl at the club trying to avoid the perverts hitting on her. Yes, she will fake interest in the conversation. Maybe she will even smile politely. She may even give you a fake phone number. This is far too connected to the online behavior. We use aliases to get the information that requests our identity. We give out voicemail only numbers to sales people because we do not want to be interrupted. We sometimes even have polite conversations with sales people just to convey the fact that we are not interested and we hope to find those magic words that make them delete our profiles from their CRM with utter disgust.

Let go of your preconceived notions of what outbound marketing should look like and come to terms that conformity to signup/checkout forms does not extend to limitless permission to SPAM, SPAM, SPAM. Let go of the bad advice you got from some marketing reject who hasn’t had a real marketing job since the 80’s, it’s no longer about the volume of the people you reach (or the repetitiveness at which you reach the same person) it is about quality of your communications and the fit with my expectations.

Frankly, even the illegitimate pharmaceutical spammers seem have more candor and tact when compared to the so called marketing professionals. Marketing needs to be valuable to be considered, otherwise its just an unwelcome interruption. Deal with it.