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People Are Getting Used to Spam

Bill Nussey, Silverpop
by: Bill Nussey (@bnussey)
30 May 2007

Good news from the latest Pew Internet & American Life Project. You may recall that these folks perform an annual survey on how people use the Internet. It has become the benchmark for trends in behavior over the last several years.

The latest results are encouraging for email. To paraphrase the words of Mark Twain, the rumors of email’s death may have been greatly exaggerated.

Despite previous speculation that email was doomed because of spam, only 18 percent of email users in Pew’s latest study consider spam “a big problem,” down from 25 percent four years ago. Why the drop? The increasing use of spam filters to keep inboxes clear, along with the fact that people are adapting to life with spam.

Before we uncork the champagne, there is a sobering message here: Our jobs as email marketers may actually be getting harder.

Users have become adept at scanning inboxes for names (the “from” field) they recognize and subject lines that are particularly relevant. This means that they are getting better and better at skipping anything that doesn’t interest them. Years ago, the email marketing industry could count on an awful lot of impressions just by getting into the inbox. Those days are gone. If you want your email marketing to be read and acted on today, you need to make sure your messages are relevant, interesting and timely.

Although people aren’t as deeply troubled by spam as they used to be, they are much savvier about which messages they will choose to open.




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