"See the Destruction of Email Messaging from the Comfort of Your Home!!!"
By David Walker (Google profile)
Email marketing has soared back into favor as the US anthrax scare starts Americans worrying about opening envelopes. But that favoritism won't last. Because effective email marketing - and email of all sorts - is being squeezed by new waves of unsolicited "spam" email sweeping through inboxes the world over. Internet users are spending ever-increasing amounts of time weeding out invitations to "Work from the Comfort of Your Home!!!!", "See Hot Young Teens!" and "Increase Your Muscle Strength".
My personal inbox favorites include the email message from Mr Sander Yuan at Chnze Electric Equipments Co. in Shanghai, soliciting expressions of interest in "nylon binging ties" and trumpeting his "experiences of exported our products to East-south Asia". Mr Yuan's email came to me from a colleague who works in marketing, with a wry, frustrated comment on the wonderful efficiency of "targeted email advertising".
You know email marketing has struck trouble when even marketers broadcast their hatred of it.
And the unwanted email torrent will only grow bigger. Research group Jupiter Media Metrix expects the average email users burden to rise from 96 messages per week in 2000 to 170 a week by 2006. Of that 170, 74 will be commercial messages, and 28 of them will be pure, unsolicited spam. These are only educated guesses, but they show the trend.
The likely result? Email will lose some of its appeal as a medium. That may already be happening.
Perversely, the losers from this process include genuine marketers sending messages mostly to people who would want to hear them. As sophisticated consumers start receiving 100, 200, 500 messages a week, those consumers begin weeding out messages ruthlessly. So the cost of wringing sales out of email marketing is already rising, even as the cost of buying lists of email addresses falls.
Jupiter suggests several tactics which businesses can use to reach customers by email, some designed to give customers more control over the messages they receive from marketers. But the sheer numbers suggest a problem that the current system may not be able to fix.
Responsible marketers won't be spam's only victims, though. If you have 20 pieces of spam to throw out every time you log on, you may think twice about using email for important messages of any sort. Every new spam wave trains users that email is a junk medium.
If email worked liked postal "junk mail", email overload wouldn't threaten us. Unfortunately, email works on different economics. You pay for a letter when you send it. But spammers pay almost nothing to send tens of thousands of emails. The costs of their deluge fall mostly on those who receive the messages. Highest among those costs is the time spent deleting inbox junk. At 200 or 300 emails a week, that time soon runs into hours.
Schemes for fixing spam abound: schemes for better filtering in email clients like Outlook and Eudora; schemes to legislate against spam, schemes to make spam too expensive to send. A 1999 Gartner study (commissioned by ISP anti-spam software vendor Brightmail) claimed most Internet users look to their own Internet Service Provider to fix spam. The commentator John Dvorak once offered himself as a paying customer to anyone who'd set up an online spam-filtering service, but no such service has emerged.
More recently, Dvorak has suggested banning the use of email by direct marketers. Every couple of days, as I wade painfully through my inbox, it briefly seems an oddly attractive notion.
From: heather b.
Subject: Your Web site
I'm hoping you can point me in the right direction; I'm looking for the person in charge of marketing for http://www.shorewalker.com.
My name is Heather and I am the marketing director of esubmissionmasters.com We are an online website submission company (http://www.esubmissionmasters.com/index.asp?id=200&m=250497) that can submit your site to the top search engines utilizing our proprietary custom software ...
I found http://www.shorewalker.com in Lycos on page 78 for the search term "online shopping for boys". I understand that you obviously have other search terms by which people find you, but I would like to show you how we can help you get higher rankings for all of your search phrases ...
Thanks heather. Shorewalker.com readers love to shop online for boys ...
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (and later email@example.com, three times
Subject: Would you like to lose weight while you sleep?
As seen on NBC, CBS, CNN, and even Oprah! The health discovery that actually reverses aging while burning at, without dieting or exercise! This proven discovery has even been reported on by the New England Journal of Medicine. Forget aging and dieting forever! And it's Guaranteed!
Thanks 1033625. I missed that Eternal Youth Special Issue from the New England Journal of Medicine.
Subject: Embroidered Patriotic Items
Click HERE to find out how to get a
FREE Embroidered Patriotic Checkbook Cover
This is beyond satire.