When marketing becomes spam

Marketing via email can often be a cheap and effective way of building brand awareness, driving traffic to a site and even selling online. Yes, that’s right, selling things.

The problem is, though, how do you make sure that your message stays on brand and isn’t lumped in with the various unenticing offers to ‘make your business explode’, or pornographic sites or services?

Elsa Weill asked the UK-Net Marketing list, “I’m currently looking into email marketers and am therefore wondering where ‘email marketing‘ ends and ‘email spamming‘ begins. What are your feelings about such email offerings – are they a good thing or a bad thing for the new media industry? All your thoughts are welcome.”

Andrew Petherick replied, “I can answer this one. Spain is effectively unsolicited mail where the recipient hasn’t requested the email the he or she is receiving; it’s even illegal in many places.

“Next up the ladder comes opt-out, where the recipient has decided to tick a box to say that they would like to be sent emails in the future about that company’s services and products. Giving permission here will sometimes allow that company to pass their email address on to other marketing companies.

“Finally comes permission based email, where a person will specifically ask to receive email on a certain subject until they no longer want it They then remove themselves from the list. With the opt-in method, the consumer is given 100% control of the mail received and the marketer will achieve extremely high response rates (up to 15%).”

Ashley Pomeroy shared his thoughts on the specific makeup of spam. “Although technically spam is any mail that’s repeated over and over again, I think that dullness is the crucial signifier of true spam.

“Dull stuff is marketing, semi-interesting stuff (porn, pyramid schemes, ‘Help Save the Brazilian Rainforests’ and ‘Beware of Good Times’) is spam. I think people assume that ‘multi-level marketing‘ schemes, anything which has ‘THIS IS PERFECTLY LEGAL!‘ in the second line, and adverts for Horny Belinda’s Web-Cam are spam, although amusing to read. I delete this and add the sender to my procmail filter. I don’t know why they bother — perhaps it’s satire.

“A standard dull ‘Hello and welcome to the N newsletter — with lots and lots of promotional guff, plus a competition ‘email would be marketing.

“Does anyone jump for glee when they receive a mail from a company with ‘Dear [client-name]’ at the top? Do they then feel a wave of good cheer as they read about their opportunity to source and buy professional services and register for FREE!’? I doubt it very much.”

The line between irritating time-wasting spam and effective promotional emails is always going to be a difficult one. And this problem will only be exacerbated as companies try new marketing techniques in order to make their email marketing more effective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *