In honor of the death of John Jay Daly, former president of the Direct Marketing Association and founder of the program that allows consumers to opt out of direct mail marketing campaigns, I thought it be valuable to revisit the topic of email and direct mail marketing preferences.
The most prevalent misinformation about e-mailing lists is that they are readily available and cheap. When businesses started abandoning dmail in favor of email, most of them argued that it would be much cheaper and wondered why anyone would still rely on the USPS. Aside from an entire sideline conversation about the way consumers like to receive their communications, the important point to make here was that because of list compilation guidelines and user preference obligations established by the US CAN SPAM legislation, email lists are not easily available and certainly aren’t cheap.
The direct marketing industry learned long ago that it had to respect the rights of recipients and that is when the opt-out programs began. You may not notice but at the bottom or on the back of nearly every direct mail solicitation you receive from a major firm is an option to Opt-Out of future mailings. You can do this by mailing a request to the address provided. You can thank John Jay Daly for this.
Fast forward 35 years and you find the DMA wrestling with the same privacy issues and email. With that discussion along came CAN SPAM legislation. But the Email rules are much tougher, requiring that recipients OPT IN the first time and that mailers provide an Opt Out method every time. It is precisely these rules that make high quality, reliable email marketing lists tough to come by and expensive to mail. This isn’t to say that they aren’t available. You can rent them but you can’t bank the records. And it doesn’t work like direct mail programs where you license the list and it is delivered to your bonded mail house. With rental email lists, the list stays with the list owner and you pay not only for the use of the list but to have them deliver your communications to the list they own.
Suddenly, email marketing isn’t necessarily cheaper than direct mail marketing.
As frustrating as this may be to marketers, it isn’t entirely a bad thing. Think of it like the no soliciting sign in businesses or perhaps in your neighborhood. By giving notice to vendors that you aren’t interested in their solicitations should save them $$ (assuming they read).
As professional marketers we see this as a way to deliver much more targeted messages only to those people who are truly interested, thereby increasing the deliverability of our marketing programs and ultimately the ROI (fewer mailed pieces, even at a higher per piece cost, are much more valuable if we reach more prospects and have less waste).