I don't just hate spam, I really hate spam. No, I'm not talking the kind you eat although it too isn't exactly great, but I'm talking about mass unsolicited email spam. Now I know that not all email marketing is spam and that there are many companies out there that take the time to qualify their lists, personalize the emails and send out a quality product, but I think the majority of email marketing is done blindly by sending off tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of messages in hopes of getting some to bite. Here is the opening sentence of a recent email I received and it happens to be the one that caused me to write this post.
"Did you the use antidepressants during pregnancy? Many have been linked to serious injuries in children."
Seriously? Did I use antidepressants during pregnancy? The last time I checked, my anatomy doesn't allow that to occur! This message really got me thinking about the differences between email marketing and direct mail marketing and is yet another example in my eyes as to why direct mail marketing is still king of marketing mediums.
Now we can argue that email is cheaper than direct mail. And we can argue that direct mail has a higher conversion rate than email. And just like a politician, we can skew the numbers anyway we want to backup our stance. But rather than throw a ton of numbers at you, I'll list here why direct mail is better than email.
Now I know that not everyone enjoys going to their mailbox everyday and finding solicited and/or unsolicited mail but it's amazing the number of people that do. In my house, it's a family fight to get to the mailbox; and my wife and kids aren't even in the marketing business. My wife hopes that a pile of catalogs to her favorite stores come, or a postcard with a coupon is there and my kids are hoping that something has Nintendo, Lego or American Girl on it. The point is, that many Americans look forward to going to the mailbox every day.
I can't say the same holds true for email ads. Many of us have gotten to the point where we cringe to even look at the inbox when the received mail sounds blares through the speakers because we know the subject is probably one of two things; either work related or spam.
It's Physical and can "Linger"
Direct mail can be held, filed, taped to the computer monitor, attached to the refrigerator, set on the counter, or placed anywhere that you want to in order to reference it later. And if you're like me, you may put it in a stack and find it two months later while cleaning up and think to yourself "I'm glad I found this, I have need for that now".
For me, with email, if the corporate anti-spam appends the words "SPAM" to a message that isn't a customer, prospect, vendor, friend or family member, then it is getting deleted. And once I close my email client, the trash bin is getting emptied and that message is gone forever, never to be seen by me again.
Which is Safer
The last time I checked, I couldn't open a direct mail piece and have it instantly give a hacker access to my computer system, give me a virus, worm, spyware, or delete everything on my hard drive. Yet I know plenty of people that have had that happen when they opened unsolicited marketing email.
Image is Everything
My personal opinion is that any company that is trying to sell me a product via direct mail is a professional and established company. Unsolicited email on the other hand can come from anyone, anywhere pretending to be anybody and I won't give my credit card number to just anyone. Short-term results from unsolicited email may garner short-term results but at what expense to your long-term image?
Now I'm not saying that targeted email marketing shouldn't be included as a medium in your overall marketing plan but I will say without hesitation that unsolicited mass email marketing should be left out completely!