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Please Stop Crapping on Marketers, Part III

3/29/11

By Ken Magill

In the discussions that resulted from the first “Please Stop Crapping on Marketers” post, the central point was almost immediately lost.

I allowed it to be lost because I believed it was important to show some empathy for abuse-desk employees whose response to my original argument—if they read it—would rightfully have been: “You think marketers get crapped on? I put on a crap raincoat every day before work and some nights still can’t shower off the stink.”

Thing is, my original piece wasn’t meant to be about abuse-desk employees, though it was understandably viewed as such because I used a quote from one to launch into the tirade in question.

The original piece was meant as a critique of Internet culture as a whole. I simply used the quote, reportedly made to marketers by an ISP representative—“On my list of 10 things to do today, you are number 11”—as an example of an attitude I believe is repugnant.

Apparently I took the quote out of context and misconstrued its meaning. According to Mickey Chandler, senior deliverability consultant at ExactTarget, the executive quoted was simply trying to explain to marketers that out of all the things that can and do go wrong at an ISP, marketers simply aren’t at the top of his list of things to do.

Fair enough. Nonetheless, too many people whose jobs revolve around making the Internet work reflexively dismiss marketing and advertising when marketing and advertising are why the Internet is what it is today.

In hindsight, I should have picked a better quote to illustrate that point, which I still stand by.

Also, one of the points made repeatedly in response to my original post was that commercial email accounts for just 10 percent of the legitimate email load.

Maybe so, but it accounts for 100 percent of a lot of people’s jobs and is responsible in part for many others—some of whom can least afford to lose employment, like warehouse packers and pickers, for example.

According to the Direct Marketing Association’s most recent figures—the most recent I could find, anyway—email marketing drove $26 billion in sales in 2009. An economic linchpin? Certainly not. But nothing to sneeze at, either.

Think of the economic activity and resulting employment driven by Groupons alone. The Wall Street Journal estimated its 2010 revenue at $760 million, up from $33 million in 2009.

And remember, that’s Groupon revenue, not an estimate of the sales its daily email deals generated.

Also, as I stated in the original post, marketing and advertising pay for Web-based free email. No, they don’t make Web-based free email possible. They pay for it.

Rather than being viewed as a nuisance that at best should be ignored, commercial email and other Internet marketing and advertising should be viewed as the driving force behind Internet innovation and the wildly efficient driver of economic activity that it is.

Ain’t holding my breath, though.

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Ken Magill
Date: 2011-03-29 16:34:13
Subject: Repugnant

Hey Andrew: Thanks for the comment. You do understand I'm not arguing that ISPs should deliver unsolicited email, right? Nor am I calling for better customer service to individual marketers from abuse-desk employees. I'm calling for an attitudinal adjustment under which Internet professionals begin to appreciate the positive impact of permission-based email marketing and stop reflexively pissing on its practitioners. And marketers certainly do not represent nothing but cost. No offense, but I think that's a very small-picture view. Thanks again: Ken
Posted by: Andrew Barrett
Date: 2011-03-29 15:15:17
Subject: "Repugnant"?

Ken, I'm a fan, and you're often right, but on this argument, you were wrong and you remain wrong. ISPs are not obligated to allow marketers to use their infrastructure free of charge to deliver marketing messages to recipients. Marketers represent nothing but cost. It is ridiculous to expect or demand a good customer service experience from a ISP abuse desk - senders are not their customers.

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