Spamalot to the Holy Grail: a personal email journey

Are you a spammer?  I’m sure you’re not.  But I’ll cheerfully wager that some of you have, at one point, been confused for one.

According to the BBC, undercover US researchers, or white hat spammers, have finally unearthed the secret economics of a 21st century boogie man: the junk mailer.

In the name of research, they sent out millions of spam messages from thousands of hijacked home PCs with an offer from a bogus pharmaceutical web site.

The scale of the operation delivered returns well in excess of $2 million per year even with a response rate of 0.00001%.

Are you shocked by the figure?  I am.  And I’m not talking about the loot.

It tells me that many legitimate email campaigns should have no expectations of response rates much above the spammer’s one in every 12.5 million.  Why?  Because, computer jacking aside, separating the crass from the criminal can prove tricky for all but the untrained eye.

Too many firms are postmarking their campaigns in the suburbs of Spamalot.  Emails might promise “much cheapness” but the market filters out, one way or another, poorly conceived, rendered, executed or measured campaigns.

Unfortunately, the honest, if unsophisticated, mailers cannot, spammer-style, dodge costs and will see their investment disappear in a flash of one-size fits all 0.01p bundles.  A good campaign, particularly in B2B, is personal from start to finish.

The journey from Spamalot to email’s Holy Grail begins with a five simple steps.

Personalise – An email should be a personal message.  You are not talking to a list of IT directors stuck to PCs in large multinational organisations.  You are talking to Christina.  She’s a real person who, by the way, prefers her BlackBerry.

Specialise – What’s your firm’s history with Christina?  Acknowledge her status: profitable customer, lapsed customer, new prospect or hot prospect.  Your communication should reflect any special relationship.

Energise – Get active and move the relationship forward.  Take the opportunity to drive the relationship based on individual needs.  Use interesting triggers to interact with her regularly for sales, information or service.

Dramatise – Email is a real-time medium.  If you hear of industry issues that Christina is likely to be facing then tell her how you can help.  Don’t stick to a dull monthly schedule.  Be dramatic and talk when she needs you.

Synergise – Your campaign is only a cog in your marketing wheel.  If it’s not linked with your databases and web analytics, it will fail.  Every interaction with Christina, from introduction to conversion, can be automatically logged, updated and used.

The ability to communicate personally and meaningfully with customers can deliver spectacular results: way in excess of standard response rates of two per cent.  The path to the Holy Grail of one-to-one marketing is, across the sales funnel, being built rapidly in the digital era.

Spamalot, on the other hand, is a dangerous place.  As the research shows even real spammers are struggling to generate the volumes required to turn a profit.  Monty Python’s suicide squad trained to end it all in less than 20 seconds.  That’s 20 seconds more life than many of today’s ill-fated email campaigns.

You have two options to generate email returns: 1) become a professional spammer or, 2) take the personal journey towards more professional email marketing.   Not much of a choice really.

Go the extra mile.  You can rest assured that it’s not very crowded there at the moment.


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