Well, I've reached a terrible conclusion: the promise of electronic mass marketing has gone bust. Why? Spam! I know, I know, "spam" seems like the one-word answer to everything that's wrong with e-mail. But in this case there isn't any question that spam has ruined the reputation of e-mail marketing of all stripes, no matter how legitimate the company or the marketing campaign might be.
In fact, those of you who are Internet history buffs might recall that the word "spam" was originally coined to describe legitimate e-mail marketers who early on wore out their welcome in the Internet community by trying too hard. They over-promised benefits to their advertising customers, which made them over-deliver e-mail messages, and that in turn delivered underperformance of the marketing campaigns, not to mention a black eye for the entire effort.
Recovery from that black eye was never going to be easy for e-mail marketers, and the spammers have made it impossible. The result is that mass marketers have gone back to postal mail in perhaps the biggest run of campaigns in the history of that advertising paradigm. And paper is no longer so cheap. In fact it's quite expensive. That's because today's hyper-volume mass mail marketers are causing the world's paper mills to run overtime, destroying everything from rainforests in South America to evergreen forests in Alaska.
That's terrible, and terribly expensive! The bits required for electronic e-mail campaigns are very cheap indeed, and should be, and could be, a much more environmentally responsible alternative. What a shame. Damn you, spammers!