Not all direct marketing is spam, but a lot of it is. Whether delivered by email, phone, text, post (or mafia henchman), a lot of direct mail is unwanted and unsolicited. To give a sense of scale, at least 85% of all email now sent is spam.
Yet the response rate is absurdly low. The Direct Marketing Association pegs response rates between 1% (direct mail) and 6% (telemarketing) sent to “prospects” rather than a house list. That means that 94-99% of prospects rejected the direct marketing that reached them.
Some direct marketers compensate for the low response rate by increasing the quantity they try to reach or shouting more about the offer. The economics of direct mail make it easy to blast a large poorly targeted list.
Yet, just because the economics work to blast 100,000 hoping for a scant 1,000 leads doesn’t mean that you should. In chasing quantity, marketers often forget quality. There is power in reaching a smaller audience who truly want to hear from you. I like the mindset framed by Seth Godin in 1999 as “permission marketing“:
“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.
It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.
Pay attention is a key phrase here, because permission marketers understand that when someone chooses to pay attention they are actually paying you with something precious. And there’s no way they can get their attention back if they change their mind. Attention becomes an important asset, something to be valued, not wasted.
Not only is there no “offer they can’t refuse”, but every offer is an “offer that can be ignored”.