The Great Email Backlash

July 1, 2011

By Adams Hudson

I hate it. We all hate it.

Email has turned into the digital telemarketer during dinner. It's too much, too often, and - in my lowly estimation - too cheap. I wish they'd charge for it so the spammers, slammers, and scammers could just go bother someone else.

In the meantime, you and I nearly dread the return from a vacation, finding inboxes crammed with promised millions, Viagra offers, male "enhancements" and some scandalous promise from the marketing world. (Yes, probably even me on occasion.)

So, the legitimate emailers of the world are sort of trapped by association. This very e-newslettter goes through massive filtration to keep out of the trash (though we lose a few every issue) and has gotten ‘dressed up' mightily over the years to maintain a credible presence. We've taken steps to greatly increase readership, some get by the "wrong" filters though.

Many of you have ezines for clients who visit your website. Yahoo! Great move, that's an awesome baby-step toward the relationship. But it cannot stop there, or in fact, it WILL stop there... then retreat.

MarketingSherpa - an online marketing training company - conducted a study of 4,000 email/ezine publishers and found some startling news about email backlash. If you ONLY use email as a customer contact, they found that "Credibility and readership" were most at risk. Seems those might be important.

Shocker #2: They found many online, solely digital based businesses "finally" resorted to postal mail to drive customers to portal and commerce sites with resounding results. One seminar company ($40million in sales) that teaches how to make money on the internet found its biggest response to seminar attendance was from - gulp - postal mail.

Re-read the first 3 sentences of this article. Now read the rest of this article and the strategies you should consider now to grab your customer's attention while your competition is looking for the "cheap" way to drive them to boredom...

Bottom Line: Postal mail is back, in a big way.

We've been bugging you about this trend, feeling it would only get worse. We were half right. It got worse, but for two different reasons: "Distraction and interruption".

Whereas postal mail can be read at leisure, and other media can chosen or not, email continues to relentlessly ‘bling' into place, ever heightening the stack of "unopened" mail, each begging for attention... while some legitimate email lands in the SPAM folder for no discernable reason.

After a year of our print plus email versions, results have been astounding. We "point" from one to the other, engaging people at the level they prefer. Likewise, we point from email to web, web to phone, and mail to both. Email alone could never accomplish this. Also...

Ever try finding ‘that' email you so enjoyed 4 months ago? Sure, I can print it out and save it, but who does? But with "real" mail, I can keep up with it in one location quite handily. Mark it up, dog ear, write on it, rip a coupon and put it in my wallet.

Your strategy in a limping economy -
Build a huge, impenetrable fence around your customer base starting yesterday using a variety of media. Primary means is Direct Mail. Secondary means is Telephone (as thank you to every service visit, follow up to request referrals). Third means is email identified clearly as from you and NOT a solicitation.

Postal Mail contact frequency per customer: 4-12 times per year with at least 4 contacts as "soft sell" and/or educational pieces (newsletters, reminders, or other). Two to four more can be "celebratory" (birthday, anniversary, holiday, etc.) The remainder Direct Response offers.

IN ADDITION to above, you can email up to twice as often (since delivery rates are so pathetic) making sure every contact is run through a SPAM filter. More trigger words are added daily.

Remember, your credibility is contained in how you contact your customers. If YOU ONLY communicate in a way that's cheap and grossly overused, don't be surprised if you're "associated" thereby. Combine your contact methods. Let Postal mail "drive" customers to the phone and to your website; pound your name into their recall for their friends and neighbors.

Adams Hudson is president of Hudson, Ink, a creative marketing firm for contractors. PHCC members can get a free report "Upsell Your Way to Higher Profits" by emailing their polite request to or faxing company information to 1-334-262-1115. See other marketing reports at or call 1-800-489-9099.

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