Emailers need to show a little restraint

Perhaps I am particularly tolerant but I never even raised an eyebrow about receiving an unsolicited piece of unaddressed mail or leaflet. The relevant is put to one side for future consideration and the irrelevant gets filed in the recycling bin. I am, however, continually irked by receipt of marketing emails.

Russell Parsons

I wrote last week that spam texters have the potential to inflict long-term damage on that particular hue of direct marketing because of the esteem consumers hold their mobile phones in. Those sending text messages, I argued, better have a reason to be or will forever be rejected by consumers that view their mobile phone as a life-long companion and not just a means to an end.

I would extend some of that logic to the email inbox. Whether they are at work or play, consumers rely on email alongside social media and text messaging (and perhaps on occasion, actually talking to someone) to order and enhance their lives.

The receipt of half-hearted, ill-conceived and irrelevant emails is unlikely to be welcomed then. A quick and admittedly crude analysis of emails to my own personal account found I received 75 branded emails in the last seven days and only a handful from brands that I consider myself to have a relationship with on any level. An equally unscientific poll of friends, family and work colleagues found the same: people are both receiving more and less of any interest.

Of course this is no different from direct mail where seems sometime to be targeting in name only. The difference is method of collection. As I say, a brand is entering your world by email so if it is uninvited, or clumsy in the frequency of its communication or when it chooses to communicate, messages will not only fall on deaf ears but potentially alienate.

Email marketers need to learn the same lessons that other direct marketers are – that less is often more. In the absence of any email equivalent of the Mail Preference Service – emailers are required by the Information Commissioner’s Office to provide consumers with an opt-out but there is no independent service to do that on their behalf – then a little more restraint is required.

As a relatively young medium, mistakes are bound to be made. Junk filters, brand by brand opt-outs are all available to customers if they want to opt-out but if the email marketing industry wants to avoid the same level of public disquiet aimed at nuisance callers, spam texters and junk mailers then it needs a little more self-policing if it is to continue to thrive.

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