Wednesday, July 26, 2006

An Open Letter to Spammers

Dear Spammers,

Greetings! Wait, don’t delete this email, it’s not what you think. In fact, I’m not mad at you guys. Sure you fill my inbox with hundreds of ridiculous emails every day, but I’m cool with that. I realize that reaching customers and distributing your product is a difficult and expensive proposition. An outbound phone call (telemarketing) can cost $10-20 per call. Heck, visiting your customers can cost you about $100. Sending an email, on the other hand, is practically free. Spamming just makes good economic sense.

The reason I’m writing though is to offer you advice. Don’t get me wrong, I think you are doing a fantastic job! I just think there are some simple steps you can take to improve your productivity and profitability dramatically.

Let the data be your guide
Click-through-rates for spam are higher than most people would expect. Click-through-rates for the three most successful categories are 5.6% for pornography, 0.02% for pharmacy, and 0.0075% for Rolex watches.

Wow, that’s a pretty amazing rate for naughty pictures. If you assume that emails are evenly sent to both men and women and assume men are the ones that click through (this may be a big assumption, I don’t know), that means dudes click through at a 11.2% rate. What fantastic customer reach! Hats off to you, Spammy McGee!

However, maybe it’s time to stop wasting your energy on all other categories and just stick to this industry? Play to your strengths Spammer Dude!

Be funny!
I actually open spam sometimes just because the message cracks me up. This is a message that I got a few months ago and I sent it around to some of my friends because I liked it so much.

---Forwarded Message---
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 2006 15:41:30 +0180
From: "Alvin Coley"
Reply-To: "Alvin Coley"
Subject: Former President Bill Klinton uses Voagra!

Everybody knows the great sexual scandal known as
"Klinton-Levinsky". After the relations like this Klintons
popularity raised a lot! It is a natural phenomenon, because
Bill as a real man in order not to shame himself when he was
with Monica regularly used Voagra. What happened you see. His
political figure became more bright and more attractive. It is
very important for a man to be respected as a man!

See our Voagra shop to enter upon the new phase of your life.

While being funny is a great strategy, spammers can do more things to improve the likelihood that I open the message. Having my name in the title, giving me some direct command, or tricking me into thinking it’s a real email makes me marginally more likely to open the email. On the other hand, having bizarre names as the sender (Scanning my inbox: Selflessness C. Acoustics, Deflector D. Inscriptions come to mind), and giveaway titles (pharmacy, Rolex) make me less likely to open it.

Leverage your core asset to create alternative profit streams

This may seem like a fatuous MBA statement, but stick with me here, this is clever. The distinguishing characteristic of a spam is that it annoys the heck out of people and makes people despise the companies that advertise through the channel. Rolex, in fact, is very troubled that its name pops up in everyone’s inbox every day; in the long run, this will deteriorate the brand’s equity.

There are a lot of organizations that are willing to pay money to have someone else’s brand tarnished. [Note to reader: I am not advocating this position. In fact, I don’t think any business would pay to tarnish its competitors reputation through a spamming] Militant non-profit advocacy groups just might be interested!

One example we studied in class was the Rainforest Action Network (RAN). Their strategy was to target companies with strong consumer brands who were somehow related to rain forest deforestation. Basically RAN would tear the company’s brands to shreds until unfavorable practices were stopped. For example, since Citigroup provided financing to many of the forestry companies, RAN launched a campaign involving boycotts, sit-ins, vandalism, protests, all aimed at smearing the Citigroup’s consumer brand. Eventually, Citigroup complied as the smear campaign made it increasingly difficult for the company to sell credit cards and loans to consumers.

Can you imagine if RAN had hired a spammer though? What would you think of Citigroup if everyday you got emails entitled:

“Go to for ViaGRAH”
“Great Drugs and Credit Cards from Citi”
“Your homeloan has been processed by CitiGroup”
“Important message from CitiGroup regarding your mortgage”
“Please Verify Citigroup Account Information”

Holy crap! Citigroup would be in big trouble [again I am not advocating someone do this! Frankly, I’m a bit surprised that some non-profits actually use analogous tactics]

Anyhow spammers, I hope you find some of this advice useful. If you want to discuss this further, give me a shout! Keep on rocking!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your depth of knowledge into the world of spamming suggests to me that perhaps you should pursue a career in this field.