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Unsolicited Snail-Mail Preferred over Unsolicited Email

Pitney Bowes just published a study that shows (are you sitting down for this?) people don't like spam.

Sarcasm aside, there is something to learn from this report. If you want to send unsolicited messages about your business to a whole bunch of people at once ("get the word out!"), don't do it with email. That would be spam. See Spamhaus' Definition of Spam. Basically, you can send one person an unsolicited email about your business. That's called "doing business." We all do that, all the time. But send an unsolicited email to a whole list of people at once---that's spam. For example, let's say you walk over to the local Chamber of Commerce, and get a list of local business owner emails from them (apparently, a lot of people do that). It's spam if you take that entire list of emails and send them an unsolicited HTML email newsletter (no matter how relevant or cool the email looks). It's not spam if you send individual emails to each person about your business. I wish all the Chambers of Commerce would give that disclaimer. 

So use snail-mail to get the word out. According to Pitney Bowes, people are more likely to read it, and less likely to trash it. Best of all, include a URL in all your snail mail, asking people to visit your website and subscribe to your email list (and make it worth their while).

June 21, 2007 in Emarketing, Business | Permalink


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Isn't that funny? My understanding of this is that it is due to 3 things. The first one is pretty straight forward, we've all been getting junk mail for years and years, we're just accustomed to it. I can't even count how many times Ed McMahon told me that I might have already won a million dollars. I never saw a dime of it.
The second point is volume, if you received as much junk mail in your physical mailbox as you do in your inbox you'd probably just get annoyed with it and refuse to read any of it.
The last point is a big one, relevancy. Much of the junk mail you get at your house each day is applicable in some way. Granted, it's not all applicable, but the signal-to-noise ratio is pretty high. Compare this with your spam folder, there is almost *nothing* in there of value, unless it's a false positive. That's probably the biggest problem with spam, it's that most of it is complete crap.
But hey, that's just my $.02

Posted by: Adam | Jun 21, 2007 11:51:39 AM

Thanks, good points. In the old days, we would have added one more point as to why we're a little more tolerant of junk snail-mail than junk email: with snail mail, we don't pay anything. The marketer pays. With spam, we're paying for our bandwidth, and ISP fees. "Why should we pay to let you market to us?" I don't hear that argument being made anymore though.

Posted by: Ben | Jun 21, 2007 12:30:19 PM

Don't forget that Pitney Bowes makes, among other things, postal meters, so of course they're going to have a vested interest in publishing a report that gets people to send out more junk snail mail... Whenever someone publishes a report from Captain Obvious, it always makes you wonder why they would bother.

Posted by: Kevin | Jun 22, 2007 2:24:48 PM

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