Debate of the Week 9: SPAM!
Here’s what I think.
First it is important to distinguish between spam and legitimate email marketing. Email marketing obeys laws, has full corporate disclosure linked to their emails, and is comparatively considerate when mailing the ads. Spam is roguish, skirts the laws and sometime breaks them, and will send the same indiscriminate ads over and over again in the same day. They also ignore requests to be removed from mailing lists, or leave opt-out links out entirely.
So, here is the dichotomy.
Spam is bad. It’s irritating, often vulgar, indiscriminate, and so many other bad words for business. True spammers have no qualms about sending porn ads to children, and even include the occasional “teaser” pic to lure people to their sites. True spammers ignore requests to opt out because they only care about mailing volume so they can make money no matter what. Worst of all, there is great deal of fraud, viruses, and phishing in true spam. All are serious crimes.
Email marketing on the other hand actually has many virtues. They obey all applicable laws. Allow automated opting out. They only mail the same product to the same email address once a day as a general rule. And many email marketing campaigns are actually part of opt-in listings anyway. They also never actively engage in fraud or theft.
However, both of these sales techniques have certain virtues.
1- Spam never rings the phone during dinner, family time, or intimate moments.
2- Spam is private. No one has to know that someone mailed you something offensive and embarrassing. I remember getting a mailer from Playboy magazine at my home when I was 14. I never asked for it. I had never bought porn. I was underage. Let’s just say it was very interesting explaining THAT one to my parents. As an adult I still receive the occasional objectionable mailer, and since my mailbox is down the block I have to walk all the way home with it so my neighbors can see what I got and think and say scandalous things about my character.
3- Spam is easy to dispose of. Just check the box and hit delete. No muss, no fuss.
4- Spam is environmentally friendly. No trees were killed to send you an electronic ad. No petroleum products were necessary to make the fancy packaging to hold the ads. It’s a tree-hugger’s dream.
5- Unlike the post office, UPS, or Fed-ex, your e-mail provider works diligently to filter out as much spam as possible, thereby stopping the bulk of unwanted electronic solicitations from ever cluttering up your mailbox.
So in a way, I’d actually rather deal with spam than with telemarketers or junk mail. Not that I don’t welcome phone solicitations from organizations I support or businesses I work with. And not that I mind getting those nifty coupon books and catalogues in the mail. But potentially objectionable stuff is just so much more pleasant to get via email so I can simply delete it in private.
Also, as a former telemarketer myself, and the brother of a legitimate email marketer (An opt-in guy, you will never hear from him unless you asked for it. Please don’t hate him, or me for being his brother.) I have an understanding and appreciation for the advertising and sales business that surpasses most people’s experience. I’m still not a fan of either form of irritation, I mean marketing, but the incredible aggression that is directed at these people is a bit much for my sensibilities.
What do you think?