E-Mail Marketing Update: Why Spam Works


Who would say that spam’s very existence is proof that e-mail marketing works? How can any responsible person say anything good about what virtually all e-mail recipients view as the most sleazy, underhanded form of marketing on the internet? Why would a legitimate marketer ever send spam to prospects, and therefore be lumped with the dirt bags who promise to consolidate your debt overnight?

And yet, spam works. Think about it. Why would a broad spectrum of marketers — not only the low lifes, but also legitimate companies — continue to send e-mails to users who have not given them permission unless there was profit in it?

And continue is only one-half of the definition for spam, as it spreads like wildfire. According to Jupiter Research, the number of unwanted e-mail messages sent annually in the US will reach more than 645 billion by 2007. Translated to a per-user, per-year perspective, spam will more than double from 738 in 2002 to 1,671 in 2006.

The latest statistics from Brightmail—described as the “spam filtering service to the ISP superstars (EarthLink, MSN, AT&T)” by MediaPost—indicate that as of this year’s third quarter, unique spam attacks in the US increased to over 15 million, as measured by Brightmail’s Probe Network.

But the spam flood “may also result, paradoxically, from the efforts to curb spam…That is, the more efforts are made to block unwanted e-mail, the more messages spammers send to be sure that some will get through,” according to The New York Times.

Surprisingly, US consumers do not view spam as the single most annoying form of unsolicited sales contact, according to a Valentine Radford poll. Only 88% call spam “most annoying,” while 91% do not want to be bothered by unsolicited salespeople either knocking at their doors or ringing their phones.

By David Hallerman

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