Forgiveness Marketing

from the that's-how-to-do-it dept

The latest hilarious column from David Lidsky at Fortune Small Business talks about how useless “permission marketing” is and has an alternative suggestion. Permission marketing, of course, was the way overhyped buzzword from marketing types trying to come up with a way to bug people without calling it spam. Lidsky points out that for all the hype about permission marketing, it’s basically just spam you agreed to receive. It advertises stuff he doesn’t want and would never want. He talks about J. Crew sending him ads for women’s clothing despite an unblemished track record of buying only men’s clothing. Or sending him weekly emails – despite buying about once a year. These aren’t targeted or customized to the customers’ needs. So, instead, his modest proposal is to go with “forgiveness marketing”. Send out the most annoying spam possible. A huge email with lots of images, and maybe some viruses. Make sure it’s not at all relevant to the customer. Most people will simply ignore and/or delete it. However, a small percentage will angrily complain. Be prepared for those people and then beg for forgiveness. Now, you’ve got their attention and you can exceed their expectations – since they’re already so low. Anyone want to take bets on the first company that reads this article, thinks it’s serious, and starts their new “forgiveness marketing” campaign?

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Comments on “Forgiveness Marketing”

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Terry Donaghe says:

The Answer to Spam

Is the creation of intelligent email agents that intercept all mail addressed to you. There should be some sort of heuristics or something which can sort out the truly unwanted (porn offerings) and more advanced algorithms can determine if any of the unrequested email (from unknown sources) is worthy of your attention at all.
Someone should create a system using collaboritive feedback (where lots of people rate things – like reviews on Amazon) to determine the worthiness of offerings from various marketers. There will always be a small percentage of people willing to try something out before it makes it to the herd. If enough of the early adopters like the product, maybe some form of subscription service can notify the personal email agent programs based on some user profiles. The agent can then inform their user that there is some new service that they may like.

Bill says:

Re: heuristics

Well, one could argue that applications like spamassassin do that. Companies that engage in “permission” marketing tend to do two things:
apologize and try to tell you that what they are sending you is not spam.
send you emails that cannot be differentiated from spam.
Spam assassin ( looks for those key words “opt-in”, “this is not spam”, etc., etc. and labels them as . . . spam!
There are some pretty simple truths in life:
Any one who tells you that they are intelligent, isn’t.
Any one who tells you that they aren’t sending you spam (trying to rip you off, selling you something, etc.), is most definately trying to do exactly that.

Phibian (user link) says:

Re: Re: heuristics

Without my spam filter, I’d be wasting at least 1/2 hour per day in terms of having to wade through and delete junk, as well as the context-switching required when an email comes in…
But because we do have a spam filter, instead of receiving 100+ spam messages a day, I rarely receive any of these. (And our false positive rate is practically nil).
We also look for key words – “free money”, a bunch of spaces and a number, and “hot teens” are some other good indicators that the message is junk. However, we’ve found that just filtering by word can lead to a lot of false positives (it’s the old “what if I want to sign up to a breast cancer mailing list” argument). So we also have a list of allowed senders (based on our contact list) who are not filtered (or to whom only part of the filter applies).
Finally, all of the spam for our organization is dumped to a special folder on the server once it is identified as spam, and the subject/sender email/datetime is recorded in a log file. Usually it’s pretty easy for a human to recognize spam just from that information.
Roughly once a day someone is responsible for scanning the file to ensure no false positives (and if they find any, they are also responsible for improving the spam filter ), and then deleting all the spam.
This provides some security that we aren’t missing email without wasting everyone’s time. And even the scanner has time improvements, because despite the number of messages being higher than they would ordinarily receive, it takes less time to scan than to go through the inbox clutter and the messages aren’t dribbling into your inbox and distracting you every few minutes. (I guess this labels me as communications addicted )
Anyway, all this to say, I can’t imagine reading unfiltered email…

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