Here at Circumerro we’ve gotten pretty good at producing our products. But just when you think the job of producing is done, it’s time to market. While there are many ways to do that, direct mail and direct email marketing tend to be fairly straight forward and effective. And as we continue to focus more of our energies on the Web, we look to direct email marketing as the easiest and most cost-effective way to get the word out.
But here’s the catch (or at least one of ’em): email addresses tend to be hard to come by, while snail-mail addresses practically grow on trees. Of course, I completely understand the reluctance to provide email addresses in this age of unending spam. Many of us who work in front of a computer get literally hundreds of emails a day, and the average Internet user has something like four separate email accounts. If you work a lot with email and have an effective spam filter, most of those emails are qualified, necessary things. Unfortunately, in a less-than-perfect world, a great deal of email is unwanted spam.
Back to the point:
Sending snail mail costs money. You’ve got to print the piece and then pay to have it mailed, including the physical cost of handling the pieces so many times before they end up in your box. But to send something via email costs very little, for both the sender and the recipient. Mostly just some extra bandwidth and the time it takes to set it up. Of course, there’s the time on the recipient’s end to read the message, qualify it as something they want to respond to, and then hit delete if they’re not interested—arguably less time than it takes to check your snail mail box and throw the unwanteds in the trash (or hopefully the recycle bin).
The cost of direct snail mail marketing certainly gives marketers pause about the resources they are using (or should). But the system continues to encourage us to waste resources to deliver our messages effectively when email marketing creates no waste.
For as much as we hate to receive junk mail in our postal box, we still prefer it over unwanted email. For example, when I call my local chamber of commerce for their business listing, they are more than happy to share their members’ physical addresses with me, but the emails? That’s a big no-no.
It’s controversial enough that, when I floated it by my friend Keith for use in his CarbonNeutralJournal blog (as I do for many things I find on the subject of saving resources), he bounced it back to me, saying:
“I agree with your logic, but not with the reality. You can do a lot to curb print junk mail (Greendimes is just one such service), but you can’t do anything to stop junk email. Plus it’s often so vulgar and offensive.”
As a marketer I realize that much of what we produce in print is just so much fodder for the recycle bin (which is why we here at Circumerro focus our efforts on the Web when we can). It is very much a resource issue, and I hope we can get to a point where it’s more acceptable to receive email than snail mail.
Again, Keith sums it up:
“I’m afraid the spammers have spoiled the water for what could/should have evolved into an efficient and reasonably unobtrusive way to do direct marketing.”
Thanks for nothin’, spammers.