In his recent article in the New Yorker , Michael Specter discusses the history of spam and some of the technologies that have sprung up to guard against it, as well as new tactics spammers are using to get around it. One uber-mathematic spammer determined there were “600,426,974,379,824,381,952 ways to spell Viagra…” That is a great example of the tenacity of the spam community. They won’t give up, even if they have to increase their spam from billions to trillions a day to get just a few responses. The word that comes to mind for me is sustainability. How does a legitimate email marketer survive and sustain response rates when other forces are conspiring to de-legitimize email?
The truth is there are several ways to define your email campaign such that it is viewed differently than the filth.
Sustainability in an environmental sense hits me every day as I get my coffee at a local coffee shop. I try to bring my own cup rather than rely on another tree-diminishing, chlorine-whitened paper cup. Java Jacks, the local shop just around the corner from my house, posted a sign that says something like “Thanks for using your own cup – just our tiny shop used over 100,000 paper cups last year…help us reverse that trend.” That shop has to be just a tiny fraction of the paper cups used by Starbucks in a year. My point is that it took that sign at Java Jacks for me to really think about the impact even my few cups a week could have over a lifetime. Even my tree-hugging tendencies had been numbed by the simple ease and anonymity of choosing a paper cup.
Spammers have created that same numbness with much of the populace with email. Legitimate marketers have the opportunity (and I argue responsibility) to reverse rather than add to the trend and impression that all email is spam. Marketers that continue to slam away at inboxes with little analysis of what is happening at the other end risk looking more like a spammer than a sustainable business.
Here are a few ways to do so:
• Spammers rely on volume to get their sale. Legitimate marketers need to rely on permission and relevance. Via customer-selected opt-in preferences, behavioral observance and data analysis, marketers can achieve a solid ROI independent of volume of email sent.
• Purge old and inactive names. Spammers mail everyone. A marketer mails only those that are likely to respond. Mailing deeper cheapens your brand and sullies your reputation.
• Authenticate your email. Where spam = fraud, legitimate mail builds on the brand your company has built offline. Don’t let fraudulent phishing scams destroy customer perception of your email. By authenticating with SPF, Sender ID and DKIM, you’ll decrease the chance your customers will get ripped off by the latest scam pretending to be you.