We have seen it before – remember when our physical letter boxes were so full of junk mail and poorly targeted direct marketing that going through the post each day was an exercise in bin management? In 2009, this doesn’t seem to be a problem any more, as marketers and businesses have shifted to email marketing in the belief that it is cheaper, offers a broader spread and therefore should be more effective in encouraging those elusive new customers to come and buy. Unfortunately, as with any technology which has passed through it’s ‘too-good-to-be-true’ phase and into it’s ‘now-it-is-so-overused-I-am-going-to-ignore-it’ phase, email is arguably losing its effectiveness.
Or is it?
There are a multitude of different surveys which proclaim the effectiveness of email marketing, and I have to admit, there are some email campaigns which I have personally responded to. They are usually the newsletters or campaigns which I have opted in to knowingly, and they will have something in them which is highly relevant to me at that very moment in time. For instance, when I was in the market for a mini laptop, the emails that came through offering mini laptop deals were perfect. Now that I am no longer in that market (I have bought one and I don’t really want a second), I find those same emails irritating and irrelevant.
Neville Hobson demonstrates that this situation has been made even worse by careless marketers who seem to have forgotten the softly, softly approach and, perhaps in a recession-induced panic, have become shriller, more persistent and more intrusive with their email marketing. I can’t help but wonder whether this spells the beginning of the end of good, effective email campaigns, or whether this is simply an indication of the current times which will pass along with the financial crisis?
The worst thing is, that although many people see email as ‘free’, what they are not counting is the cost of the lost customers who, having had their inbox invaded by a broadcast message, decide that no matter what, they won’t buy anything from the offending company. These are difficult things to quantify, but I am know that there are losses as I am sure I am not the only one to make that decision.
Our inboxes are as personal as our mobile phones. They are also immediate and demanding constant attention. At least direct mail through the post could be set aside. It might pile up in that interminable pile of paper on the corner of your desk, but it wouldn’t be continuously reminding you that you had to look at it. Email doesn’t really allow that kind of luxury (or not in my experience). As such, if a potential customer is feeling harassed by email marketing, then I would suggest it might be time to back off a little and try a different approach.
Irrespective of how technology has made our lives easier, I also believe it has brought with it stresses of a different kind. As wonderful as real time and fast messaging can be, it has also changed expectations. Having the luxury of mulling over something, or looking at it when you have the time, or setting something aside for a response at a later stage seems to be a thing of the past. As a marketer, perhaps look at doing something different, which reinstates that luxury for your potential customers. I don’t know whether that is a return to traditional snail mail or something else, but I, for one, would thank you for it.
Is it just me? How does everyone else feel about being at the receiving end of email marketing? And for those who have used it, how effective has it been? I would be curious to hear your experiences.
Thank you bossanostra for the image