When you start sending spam's legitimate cousin, bacon emails, you're out of the fire and into the frying pan.
You have worked hard to meet CAN-SPAM regulations, but sending bacon to your recipients could be just as damaging as spam to your email program.
Mashable defines bacon (usually spelled "bacn" to distinguish it from the real thing) as spam's legitimate cousin. Unlike spam, a bacon email is one the recipient actually requested at one time, such as Facebook and Twitter notifications, Google News updates, and Groupon daily deals.
Now that spam filters block about 99 percent of all spam messages, recipients are finding bacon to be the next scourge in the inbox. As the economy soured over the past few years, marketers discovered that they could send 2,000 emails for the cost of one direct mail piece, with huge results.
Email generated $43.52 for every dollar spent in 2009. As a result, many marketers upped their volume from an average 85 emails per recipient annually in 2007 to 151 in 2010. That means every person with an active email address receives an average of 7,300 bacon messages per year.
Granted, your recipient did sign up once to receive your email. However, sending irrelevant messages on a more frequent cadence can make bacon as annoying as spam. Industry research shows 61 percent of subscribers delete these messages, and another 14 percent report the message as spam. If your email program reflects those numbers, that certainly isn't a great response for your marketing messages.
Avoid Sending Home the Bacon
The problem with sending bacon is that you are focusing on quantity versus quality. Upping the frequency might work in the short term, but it can have serious long-term consequences.
Many email providers now give their users tools to sift out the messages they want from everything else. For example, Gmail and Hotmail use machine learning to sort email based on user interactions with messages from various senders. Gmail also added another layer of sorting and labeling that can move bulk messages out of the inbox into folders.
Also, ISPs are beginning to factor in user interaction into their placement algorithms. Messages that recipients never act on might be routed to the bulk folder more often.
Consider the following tips as you plan your email marketing efforts to avoid sending bacon by delivering relevant, value-filled messages.
The Last Word
Something becomes "the easy way" for a reason. Typically, the results are short-lived. Sending more and more email to recipients who signed up to receive messages from you may be effective in the short term. But if you don't focus on delivering value to your subscribers, your messages will quickly be considered bacon and deleted.
It takes some hard work, but effectively segmenting and understanding your subscriber base and then sending relevant value-oriented content will allow you to continually meet your program goals in the long term.
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Mike Hotz is a senior strategic consultant for Responsys, working with clients to design, develop, and execute cross-channel digital marketing strategies that contribute to their cross-channel digital marketing success. As an industry veteran, Mike has worked in e-mail marketing since 1998, designing, building, and executing e-mail and multichannel direct marketing strategies focusing on increasing customer engagement, nurturing leads, supporting sales organizations, and driving revenue for companies such as CDW, OfficeMax, Grant Thornton, and Digitalwork.com.
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