There is a disconnect between marketers and consumers. No where is that more evident than in this article I found today on MediaPost. In that post, we see that disconnect display itself most clearly as a marketer attempts to channel a consumer. I’ve asked my dad, a fairly typical email user, respond so that we can see what a typical user thinks.
While he’s working on that, I want to give a couple of my own impressions.
First of all, I think that the attitude evidenced in this hypothetical message is flippant and disrespectful of the very people that it is supposed to be written for. Most users with whom I interact are thoughtful and know what they are doing as well as why they are doing it. I have yet to meet the person who has said anything even remotely resembling the following:
For all I know, I already gave you my email address and permission. Or not. I don’t care either way.
And trying to say that this is representative of the typical email user is disingenuous at best. What it really represents is the marketer’s dream opt-out recipient.
Second, if it were true that consumers really felt like this:
Feel free to send me email. I don’t really have the time to bother with figuring out how to give you permission. I don’t want a relationship with you, I want you to sell me stuff as well as you can so I can make an informed decision whether to buy.
then we would see a drastically different world. ISPs would not be using “spam blocking” as a selling point because people’s chief complaint would be that they were missing out on important messages from people who were trying to “sell me stuff as well as they can”. But that’s not the world we live in. The world we live in is one where people are looking for more relevance and greater permission. It’s the world where the Obama administration is looking to score points with people by taking a more direct hand in privacy regulations. It’s the world where Gmail’s Priority Inbox and Facebook’s new Messages platform are based upon permission, interaction, and relevance.
Marketers should not kid themselves, even for a moment, that permission is unimportant to people. We see it driving marketplace innovation and political regulation. People are not asking for less privacy and permission, they’re asking for a greater emphasis on it. And marketers dismiss that, flippantly or not, at their peril.