Jun 21, 2007

Unsolicited Snail-Mail Preferred over Unsolicited Email

Pitney Bowes just published a study that shows (are you sitting down for this?) people don’t like spam.

Sarcasm aside, there is something to learn from this report. If you want to send unsolicited messages about your business to a whole bunch of people at once ("get the word out!"), don’t do it with email. That would be spam. See Spamhaus’ Definition of Spam. Basically, you can send one person an unsolicited email about your business. That’s called "doing business." We all do that, all the time. But send an unsolicited email to a whole list of people at once—that’s spam. For example, let’s say you walk over to the local Chamber of Commerce, and get a list of local business owner emails from them (apparently, a lot of people do that). It’s spam if you take that entire list of emails and send them an unsolicited HTML email newsletter (no matter how relevant or cool the email looks). It’s not spam if you send individual emails to each person about your business. I wish all the Chambers of Commerce would give that disclaimer. 

So use snail-mail to get the word out. According to Pitney Bowes, people are more likely to read it, and less likely to trash it. Best of all, include a URL in all your snail mail, asking people to visit your website and subscribe to your email list (and make it worth their while).