[thelist] common marketing/advertising misconception (was RE: spammers/spambots)

Laurel S. Nevans laurel at artistcrafts.com
Thu Jul 30 13:51:55 CDT 2009

> I'm also not aware of any evidence that anyone actually buys 
> certain
> meds or personal services after receiving unsolicited 
> commercial emails.
> if anyone on this list does know someone who's
> done so,
> I'd be very
> interested to hear it, since it fundamentally contradicts my 
> current
> thinking. in other words, if I'm
> wrong, prove me wrong, so I can learn
> something.

A large part of my business (since I've moved to the FL 
Retirement Coast especially) involves teaching seniors to use the 
web.  Most of them want to keep in touch with kids/grandkids 
initially, and then they usually want to expand their surfing. 
Unlike those of us who have been on the web for close to 20 
years, and have had our e-mail addresses harvested and re-sold 
more than we could imagine (if only I had a penny for every spam 
I've had to delete, my wealth would eclipse Bill Gates'), these 
newbies only get a few e-mails per week.  They have not yet 
learned to recognize spam (much as I try to teach them to.) 
ISP-level spam filters are in place to try to protect the naive 
newbies.  Yet, as much of this thread has observed, the spammers 
seem to find a way around anything we put in place to defeat 
them, and always do.

Some of my clients hold on to these e-mails, asking me why 
they're getting mail from those they don't know, and if this is 
an example of that "spam-stuff" everyone is talking about. 
Others, having just been introduced to the savings they can find 
on the Internet just see it as another one of those "bargains", 
and go on and click through.  The seniors on a fixed income are 
even more vulnerable--if I can get my Lipitor for 1/3 of what I'm 
paying now, why shouldn't I?  They've just learned they can get 
that Dior purse for 1/3 of retail at Ideeli, or that $300 pair of 
Arche shoes for $150 at Zappos.  Then, they get that UCE from 
seniorsoftwarebargains.com, and see they're offering MS Office 
(MSRP $500) for $50.  Wow, another great find!  They have no idea 
they're targets, until the s/w never arrives, and all of the 
sudden, they're disputing Russian charges with Visa.

Of course, folks who START with me learn to be savvy.  I forward 
them examples of spam from amongst the thousands I get per week, 
just so that they can learn to recognize it.  But I get a lot of 
referrals of seniors who need to learn how to distinguish good 
e-mails from bad.  I have one client who runs a multi-million 
dollar international business, and after 10 years, still forwards 
me spam to ask me "if I think it looks like a good deal".  I have 
a little old lady I meet with once per week, just to review 
e-mails.  She doesn't want to be "rude", and still feels she must 
respond to every piece of correspondence in her inbox.

We web workers are a little more jaded than Joe Plumber.  We've 
survived the dot-com crash.  We learn to recognize the signs of 
spam, and to defeat it.  Older users still fail to see the 
opt-out checkboxes when they play an internet instant win game. 
They see the poor grammar and mis-spellings as part of that 
new-fangled text language the grandkids all use.  They LIKE 
getting e-mail, and get so little, the spam doesn't scream out at 
them the way it does to us.

And just when I think they're ready to "graduate", one of them 
forwards me that 15-year old Bill Gates will send you $250 if you 
forward this e-mail piece of garbage, or a similar internet scam 
chain letter, and we have to review everything I taught them all 
over again.  If nobody responds to spam, how come we STILL see 
that old e-mail circulate?

Remember--even someplace like the Val-Pak coupon folks tell you a 
2% return on a direct mailing is an excellent response.  How much 
does it cost to print 100,000 coupons and mail them, vs. the cost 
of sending out 1,000,000 spam?  If they manage to get 10 suckers 
to respond, it's still more cost-effective than marketing "the 
old-fashioned way".

Again, only anecdotal, but seen frequently enough I'd say it's 
qualitative data.  And it happens even when folks have been 
trained NOT to respond.  My guess is that ability to recognize 
spam correlates directly with internet experience.

Laurel Nevans
Computer Guru
Web Site Design, Maintenance, Hosting,
Training, Set-Up and Troubleshooting
Holmes Beach, FL 

More information about the thelist mailing list