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Guerilla Marketing and Spam: What Smart Consumers Know and How to Respond

The global spammer community makes about $200 million from its collective online efforts, according to a study published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. But those revenues are only a small fraction of the $20 billion societal cost suffered every year in the United States alone. In other words, spammers may not be getting filthy rich, but they’re doing a lot of damage to entire communities and countries.

As a result, many consumers are leery of any aggressive emails or other digital content that comes their way, fearing it’s the work of a scam artist. Sometimes, they can get the wrong impression from guerrilla marketing efforts, which typically utilize low-cost, high-visibility and sometimes unorthodox means of consumer engagement—not unlike the methods spammers use. In many cases, the consumer cannot differentiate one from the other and will err on the side of safety. How do you tailor your marketing campaign in a way that doesn’t turn off your target audience? Think from the consumers’ perspective.

Don’t Send Unsolicited Email

One of the most important rules about effective guerrilla marketing tactics is that direct marketing materials— at least those using digital technology— be dispensed only to the consumers soliciting them in the first place. While consumers might be fine with receiving direct mail marketing materials in their postal mail box, they tend to be much more protective of their email inbox.

A major factor in that mindset is that unsolicited emails tend to be nefarious in nature. Because spam is almost always unsolicited, it’s important for guerrilla marketing efforts to distinguish themselves from this type of content. And besides, good marketers understand that unsolicited materials are highly unlikely to result in positive actions. Make sure your email campaign includes the source of where the consumer subscribed to the email list. Email marketing giant MailChimp lists pointers like this tips to avoid being marked as spam.

Attach to a Familiar, Reputable Email Address to Your Campaign

You’ve seen this scenario before. You get an email purporting to be Bank of America, telling you that your account needs attention because of a security compromise. The email appears to be legitimate, and you begin to worry about your account. But then you look at where the email was sent from, and the site domain in the email address is indecipherable or unfamiliar— and, most importantly, nothing associated with Bank of America. You need look no further— this is a blatant attempt at spamming. Legitimate companies will make sure you can trace that email back to an established, reputable website. Spammers, on the other hand, won’t.

Be mindful of this when deploying your guerrilla marketing content. Avoid long, cutesy or impersonal email addresses. Also, use a familiar “from” name for the email. These simple tactics will increase your chances of not being marked as spam, notes Mass Transit.

Don’t Ask for Personal Info Without a Security Certificate

Ultimately, most spammers are going after your personal information— bank account numbers, credit cards, Social Security numbers and so on. This is a red flag to most consumers. The best way to protect your content from being flagged as spam is to enlist the digital protection and support of companies such as Lifelock, which monitor identity and catch theft attempts right where they start. By investing in those services, you demonstrate that you understand the importance of your target audience’s personal information. Spammers obviously won’t make that effort.

Kyle Iverson is a business marketing grad from the East coast who spends his time writing about social demographics and going to trade shows.

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