Email Out of Control

Spam is junk mail on steroids.

We spend too much time trying to empty our overloaded inboxes. The best spam filter programs and ISP filters do little to stem the tide.

David Pogue, one of my favorite technology writers said it well in his New York Times article entitled "We Have to Fix E-Mail." He wrote:

At this moment, there are 1,944 unanswered messages in the Inbox of my private account, and 2,730 in the Inbox of my public account. And that’s after taking a deep breath and deleting all the unanswered ones from 2008 and 2009, which I realized would be too embarrassing to answer anyway.

Even though he represents the extreme, I usually get 300 emails a day. My spam filter and ISP use the latest technology to weed out irrelevant information. But the problem continues to grow. I now think twice about signing up for any more newsletters, webinar notices or other subscriptions.

Customer or not, most companies send me far too many emails. With a busy schedule, even interesting emails get deleted just to make it through the day.

How can marketers continue to beat this system? They can't. And therein lies the problem.

Now My iPhone compounds the problem with just a few applications like Groupon, Key Ring Rewards and other judiciously selected programs that deliver compelling offers.

With new technology comes a new generation of reader overload. Solid value propositions and relevant emails have to compete as never before.

Traditional media channels such as direct mail and quality outbound telemarketing programs with a personal touch have become the cadillac of marketing tactics. Due to high costs, television advertising (especially DRTV) direct mail, telemarketing, and even print advertising manage to catch people's attention because quality brands advertisers successfully cut through a less cluttered field when compared to the proliferation of new media.

This is not to say that the Internet, mobile and email do not play a critical role. But they do not represent the panacea some proponents might want us to believe.

All advertising budgets have suffered in this economy, but as a share of market, direct mail has gained market share. Here are a few facts about direct mail expenditures and growth related to total advertising spend.

- In 2007, Over $60 Billion was spent on direct mail -- 23.7% of all advertising expenditures

- In 2009 expenditures dropped 30% -- DM share of advertising grew to 25.6%

- In 2010 direct mail expenditures and share grew again. And I predict 2011 will represent a banner year for direct mail.

Advertisers need targeting and response. That's why direct mail continues to grow in spite of high costs.

Email will continue to grow, but spam threatens its ability to generate large sales volumes. Great ROI without sales volume assures the tenacity of traditional media.

How can we fix email? I think David Pogue's article is right on the money. What say you? 

Posted on June 30, 2011 and filed under Direct Mail, Email.