Have you ever wondered why there are people who are willing to go to such great lengths to try to sell you imitation Rolex watches, Viagra, Cialis or pirated software? What is it about you that makes scantily clad young women from eastern Europe approach you because they are so lonely and they just picked you? And how come so many people working for the banks in Nigeria seem to need your help to free up $100m with a tiny bit of paperwork (your bank account details)?
Our spam count at home now runs to about 400/day, mostly filtered out with little inconvenience and then deleted. My wife asked me why on earth these people keep sending the stuff and my usual answer would be because someone occasionally responds. But you have to wonder whether anyone with an e-mail account has not heard of the Nigerian bank scams or the phony attempts to get you to reveal on your on line bank account details (usually from a bank that you don’t bank with!). I guess we will never know as the people or organisations who are sending this stuff out don’t publish accounts or any other information.
There is some correspondence with the direct mail industry here and many people describe their products as junk mail which could be the hard copy version of spam. However there is a difference, most direct mail has some element of targetting based on geodemographics or some other intelligence about the recipient. Response rates may only be 1% or 2% but there is a well proven return on this marketing approach.
The challenge as we move away from print to “e” is to find ways to target campaigns to the individual recipient so that they are clearly distinguished from spam. Educating the spam filters will be fun.