Have you noticed that your e-mail just isn’t as reliable as it once was? Do you wonder what happened? Aren’t these technical things supposed to improve with time, and not degrade instead?
You’re not alone. More and more people are coming to realize that the once dominant e-mail application, the one we’ve relied upon for years is no longer reliable. Our e-mail system is broken, and right now, there’s not a single fix out there that’s showing any sign of making things better anytime soon.
Now you might not think that a broken e-mail system is not all that important, but consider the fact that are large numbers of people who actually WANT to get e-mail from individuals and companies and many of those messages just aren’t getting delivered.
Worse, you no longer get a reply letting you know that your messages were not delivered. They are simply deleted so you have no idea whether or not your message was even received. So what’s the big deal, right? So you miss a few e-mail messages, who gets hurt?
The truth is that many legitimate, honest, hard-working business owners who rely on e-mail to market and promote their businesses are getting hurt, and many have already gone out of business because they can no longer reach their customers with e-mail.
Personally, I’ve been using e-mail to market my business since 1995. In those days, most every message I sent was delivered. Not only that, having as many as 9 out of 10 these messages opened was considered normal in those days. Contrast that with today’s numbers and you’ll see what I mean.
Right now, the average e-mail message is opened by LESS than 1% of the people it’s sent to. If you’re a business owner, this is certainly not good news.
For the people who use unsolicited e-mail (or spam) as their primary marketing tool, as opposed to legitimate permission-based e-mail, their solution to the problem has been to put more e-mail servers online and send out tens of millions more e-mail messages in order to get the same results they were getting just a few short years ago.
In response, the developers of e-mail spam filters have tightened up the noose to catch more of these illegal messages. While that has had an effect on the number of spam messages you see in your inbox, it’s also had a devastating effect on businesses that send legitimate e-mail. Think of it as a side effect of combating the spam problem.
And so the story goes. As more spam is sent out, the spam filters get more aggressive and block more and more e-mail. As more and more e-mail is blocked, it becomes a less and less viable marketing channel, a more unreliable communications channel, and in many respects, it will soon become an obsolete technology as more and more people simply stop using and relying on e-mail.
Smart marketers, however, are not going to sit back and watch their businesses crumble because new legislation and technology have totally failed to fix the e-mail mess. The ones that will ultimately survive are taking action, and that action is in the form of finding new ways to reach their customers.
While there is a lot of buzz these days about “social media” there are yet only a few scant success stories, and ultimately this new media can’t come close to the marketing power e-mail once had. That, we hope, will someday change, but it’s still too early to know for certain when and if social media will ever be reliable replacement for e-mail.
Other business owners are turning back the hands of time and returning to what was once the only low-cost method of marketing; direct mail. For those of you who don’t remember marketing before the Internet, direct mail was the de facto marketing tool to beat.
It’s low cost and easy availability made it the marketing tool of choice for all types and sizes of businesses.
Direct mail is the tried-and-true marketing channel and has been for more than a century. Direct mail has changed little in decades as a powerful marketing tool. It’s stable, reliable, predictable, and remains a well-respected and highly affordable marketing channel, even by today’s standards.
When direct mail is combined with the Internet, it becomes a very powerful and highly flexible marketing channel. For example, a business might send out a simple postcard to their past customers alerting them to a special offer, sale, or other event. The customer is then directed to a web page for more information and to place an order.
The postcard will see a deliverability rate in the high 90% range, and of those, the vast majority will at very least see the marketing message printed on the postcard. When you compare that to the sub 1% who will actually see a marketing message sent via e-mail, direct mail begins to look very attractive.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about marketing with direct mail is that you can take most of what you’re doing on the Internet and convert it easily to a format that can be used with direct mail. This is one of the biggest attractions business owners are excited about, aside from the rather immediate increase in sales, of course.
By Robert Imbriale
‘The Motivational Marketer’