If you’re reading this blog, you probably work in marketing communications. Have you ever stopped and wondered what separates you from the spammers?
When I say “spammers,” I’m not talking about well-meaning folks who may have once violated some technicality in the CAN-SPAM Act, purely by accident. I’m talking about the shady, deceptive, get-something-for-nothing crowd.
In a sense, spammers are marketers just like us. And judging by how many messages they’re sending, they must be turning a profit.
Curious as to what makes them tick, I recently delved into the spam folder of my designated spam account – the true Eighth Circle of email hell. Here’s one of the highlights, with my comments in brackets:
RE: Mail from Barbara Mary Richardson (Online coordinator)
[Ah. I guess I must have sent out an email the other day with the subject line “Mail from Barbara Mary Richardson (Online coordinator),” and this is the reply.]
Attn Email Account holder,
[Yep. It’s good to know your audience.]
After much attempts to reach you on phone, I deemed it necessary and urgent to contact you via your e-mail address and to notify you finally about your outstanding compensation payment.
During our last annual calculation of your banking activities we have realized that you are eligible to receive a compensation payment of $2,811,041.00 USD.
[That’s more money than I’ve ever had in all my bank accounts throughout my entire life, but never mind. You’ve got $2.8 mil for me, but you didn’t even bother to leave voicemails? Send a letter? A telegram? A fax? A passenger pigeon? You’re relying on email for this?]
This compensation is being made to all of you who have suffered loss as a result of fraud, accident or illness.
[Fraud, accident, or illness. So, basically everyone in the world is getting $2.8 mil?]
For more info, contact the assigned UPS agent for the delivery of your cashier check.
[See, that would have been another great idea: UPS could have just delivered the check to my house.]
Thank you for your patience.
[Not at all. This is fun!]
United Nation Human Settlement Programme
[Aaaand, there’s the instant credibility. If the United Nation [sic] is saying I deserve $2.8 mil for having a checking account and getting chicken pox back in third grade, who am I to question it?]
Have you seen the “correspondence” from the New York City DMV about a speeding violation? It says:
“To plead, print out the enclosed ticket and send it to….”
Yeah, I can just picture the NYPD motorcycle cop: “Hey, that guy’s going 67 in a 45 zone – after him! Nah, on second thought, I’m sure the DMV knows his Hotmail address.”
There’s another bit of spam that begins:
“MasterCard® / Microsoft® INTERNATIONAL MEGA JACKPOT BARCLAYS BANK PLATINUM VISA CARD BARCLAYS PREMIERSHIP MICROSOFT OFFICE, UNITED KINGDOM PRESENT DIRECTOR … ”
And it goes on like that. Brand name soup. Hey, if that many proper nouns are involved, it’s gotta be legit, right?
And then there’s the one that ends:
Its truly impossible to find more beneficial offer than the one, provided by us.
Translation: We’re the best. Everyone else stinks. Now, that’s a value proposition!
Oh, we could sit here and make fun of spammers all day. But if this junk is working for them, shouldn’t it work for you?
Alas, we can’t think and write like spammers. We actually have to try. Why? Because we aren’t just out to make money – we care about how we make it. We’re communicating to build customer relationships, and we’ll be held accountable for the words we choose and the promises we make.
It’s hard, heady work, but at least we can sleep at night. Unless, of course, we’ve neglected to pay a traffic ticket from a city we’ve never visited.