Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lots of Questionable Emails Lately … So What?

I keep getting questionable emails from “PayPal” asking me to click on a link to update my information. Like I’m going to do that.

A recent email from “Lowe”s invited me to visit a website to “track the status of your mail-in savings submission.” Except it came from an incredibly weird url:

Lately, I even got nervous when Bank of America prods me on my credit card statement. How can I be sure the email is really from Bank of America – or from any cited source? Not long ago, I got an email ostensibly from a close friend who's name and email address I recognized immediately. The email (subject line "lvoeyou" [sic]) suggested I go to (close, but not the real url.. hey, no way I’m spreading this virus).

The bottom line is, increasingly I’m disinclined to click on any link that comes via email, especially when it has something to do with money. Which is not to say I’m criticizing the value of email. Far from it: I more or less live by email. Which leads me to wonder why some influential commentators hate direct mail so much?

Yesterday Seth Godin posted a blog piece that put direct mail – he calls it “postal mail” – on the scrap heap, along with “graffiti” and “art” – all of which he declared of “little commercial value.” Godin’s post left me speechless, but not too dumbstruck to share his viewpoint with LinkedIn’s Direct Mail Group. Quite a few people were as astonished as I that one of the most respected voices in marketing – albeit, author of All Marketers Are Liars -- would denigrate the commercial force that is direct mail. According to The DMA, direct mail drives 9.9% of America’s gross domestic product and results in 2.06 trillon dollars in sales. Even adjusted for bias, these are commercially viable numbers.

With the rising threat of cyber attacks, a lot of us may be looking back fondly on the lazy, hazy days of “junk mail.” At least USPS-charitable solicitations don’t explode in our mailboxes, try to steal our identities, hunt our computers for passwords, or spam everybody in our address books.

Look, every marketing and advertising strategy has its squishy spots -- and the bigger the tool gets (like direct mail and, now, email), the more susceptible to abuse it becomes. The problem doesn’t lie with the any particular marketing strategy, but with the bottom feeders who try to exploit all of them.

--scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

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