What is Spam?

What is Spam? image envelopes 300x2252What is Spam?

Going through my mail yesterday  – the old fashioned kind – I open what appeared to be a bill for $85 for a website listing.   Knowing I didn’t sign up for this, I investigated.

Turns out – even though it looked just like a real invoice, after reading the fine print, I realized I got spammed via direct mail.  On the back of this direct mail piece designed to look like an invoice, it said, “this is a solicitation. “

First – shame on you!  How many people who received that pulled out their checkbook?  This may not be deceptive advertising by the definition, but it sure is spam.

So what makes this spam?

  • I didn’t request this information.  Sure, you don’t need permission to send someone mail.  But it’s still a best practice to only communicate with those who request information from you.
  • More so because it has the look and feel of a dubious product.

The direct mail piece doesn’t actually tell me what I would get from the web listing.  It doesn’t list any benefits, testimonials, or value proposition.  It looked just like an invoice.

Although the definition of spam applies to electronic messaging, spam is used so often and in so many instances that I think it can apply to direct mail .  For example – did you know that some consumers hit the spam button even though they opted-in, but simply because they don’t like the message or it doesn’t apply to them.

It’s rough out there for email marketers.

So how do you avoid being labeled a spammer?

  • Make your marketing opt-in.  Yes, I’m aware some situations require purchased lists or casting a net to try and see who is interested – but your marketing will be more effective if they choose to receive more information.  When it comes to your targeted lists – quality will result in more sales than quantity.
  • Ask what they want to receive from you.  Too many opt-in forms ask for just an email address.  This doesn’t prevent someone from clicking spam because they don’t like the information you sent them.   Ask for some information about them – like their first name, location, or anything else that could help you get to know them – and then ask them what types of emails they’d like to receive.
  • Personalize the content of your emails.  When you obtain information about them – populate that information into the content of the email.  It gives the impression that you value their uniqueness and that you understand what they need.  It could be a special offer for people in a certain location – or you could make mention how your product or service benefits people based on the information you collected.

So if you’re planning an email or direct mail piece that is set to look like an invoice – or anything else that could be questionable and could make someone question your authenticity – time to start over.  Because once you’ve lost the consumer’s trust – it’s likely lost for good.

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