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Much Ado About SPAM, Nuisance or Necessity?

Posted in Uncategorized by pmaurer74 on December 19, 2008
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When I think of the word SPAM, three things come to mind: minced meat in a can, Monty Python, and annoying unwanted email. This post is about the later of course. Can email be useful and profitable for users and marketers, or is it just a waste of time and money?

It is estimated that Spam accounts for 60% of all email and that it costs companies over $10 billion annually as employees spend time checking and deleting their email. As a result of all this unwanted email, 50% of users do not trust email. The user is afraid of privacy concerns, false email identities, viruses, or fraud. However, if we ban email, are we stepping on the principles of free marketing? We accept that we get junk mail, but when it comes into our home through the phone or email, it is considered and invasion of privacy. Will we be soon registering our email addresses on a do not Spam email list?

So Spam emails sound like a nuisance but do they really work? A test was done by The University of California, Berkeley and UC, San Diego with 75,869 hijacked computers to see what the response rate would be for some fictional email campaigns. When the user clicked on the link, the link would not work. About 469 million junk emails were sent out over the a 26 day time period, only 28 sales resulted. This is a 0.00001% response rate. Sounds horrible. However, on a much larger scale, this email campaign with others could make companies $7,000 per day. Since it costs little to send emails, this is a great return.

According to “Will Can-Spam Affect You?” by LaToya Deann Rembert (link no longer valid), Spam emails must follow specific rules however to be considered legitimate:

• They must be labeled as an advertisement

• It has to have an opt-out link

• It has to have a legitimate company mailing address at the bottom

• It must have a working, real return email address

• It cannot have a misleading subject line header

So the marketer has all the rules checked off and in place, but the response rate and send rate still isn’t very good. According to Email Marketer: Email Wost Practices” by Bill McCloskey (link no longer valid) here are several items that can be done to give your email a better chance of being received:

• Make sure there are no broken links

• Check for mistakes in the email addresses like two @@’s

• Check your email on several browsers including Mac’s and older browsers

• Make sure the slashes aren’t backwards in links like http:\\ when it should be

• Check to make sure the time stamp is correct, some marketers will put future dates to make sure that their email appears at the top of the inbox

Email marketing remains to be one of the most profitable forms of marketing reaching large amounts of people. Email marketing does not have to be used only for advertising, it can be used for market research and customer service purposes. You can earn your customers trust by sending them emails that will help them rather then sell to them.

What do you think? Email marketing: nuisance or necessity?

This information came from course readings:

Effective Email Marketing 2004: Ten Things to Think About this Year

Email Worst Practices: A Must-Read Primer on Bad Email Practices

Will Can-Spam Affect You?

Should Spam be on the Menu?

Other Resources:

Study Shows How Spammers Cash In