Archive for the 'Email Marketing' Category

High cost of attention – USPS Edition part 2

Monday, March 12th, 2007

usps_logo.gifIn a previous post, we talked about how much time it takes to get rid of unwanted mail. Unlike email marketing, direct marketing via postal mail is expensive as they have printing and postage costs.

Email marketers still have to pay to acquire a list of email addresses and to design the email, but largely, the cost of email marketing is carried by the recipients (READ: you and me) in evaluating that email’s value. By charging marketers for your time, many marketers will refine the messages that they send.

But what makes us think marketers will pay? We think they will pay for your attention because they already do.

US Postal Service

I get a lot of mail in my (snail mail) mailbox every day. Usually, our small mailbox is stuffed full of mail. And most of that mail I didn’t request.

Typically, I get 3 kinds of unwanted mail:

  • Grocery store inserts
  • Catalogs
  • Letters/Fliers

I was curious about how much marketers spend to reach me, so I started doing a little research online. Poking around a bit on the USPS website, I discovered their rate calculator for sending commercial mail. They divide commercial mail into several categories.

Standard Mail

Standard mail is the mail that doesn’t seem like mail at all. Standard mail is typically composed of loose fliers from grocery and other local stores, letters sent to “Resident” or any piece of mail that you receive that isn’t addressed to a person. Standard mail is big business for the USPS as it made up almost half of their revenue last year.

Using the USPS’ handy bulk postage calculator, I determined that it costs about $.16 for a 1.7 oz grocery store flyer via standard mail. Naturally, this doesn’t include printing costs, so this isn’t a total cost, but it is a good basis to work from.

Standard mail indiscriminately targets neighborhoods, cities and regions and isn’t targeted beyond the geographic boundaries.


By comparison to standard mail, catalogs are very expensive. By using the same calculator, I calculated my recently received catalogs of 6, 10 and 14 oz in weight, cost $.44, $.51 and $.57 respectively to send. Again, this doesn’t include printing, but where the grocery store flyer was printed on newsprint and unbound, the catalog from the furniture store was printed on high quality glossy paper, which is substantially more expensive.

Catalogs are more targeted, so in theory, the recipient might buy more from that retailer.

So, how much are you worth?

So, what does all this mean? By calculating one cost, bulk rates for direct mail marketing, we’ve established that marketers are willing to pay to get some of your attention. From my own non-scientific study of my mailbox, those marketers are paying somewhere in between $.16 and $.57 for each piece of mail sent.

While we aren’t planning on opening a direct mail division any time soon, we think some of that money ought to be going to you.

Some of my best friends are email marketers

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

marco.jpgDo we dislike email marketers? This is a question that I’ve received numerous times. Actually, we started this service to help email marketers as much as helping consumers.

Marco Lopez is a good friend of mine. He makes an honest living as an email marketer. He’s worked at a lot of great companies including eBay, Expedia and most recently Farecast, a great new travel site.

His job is to figure out the best kind of email to send his customers. All of the people on his list have said that it was ok to send them email. People like email from Marco. He tells them about deals in places they frequently travel. He tells them that prices are going to go up soon. He tells them it might be a good idea to wait a couple of days before buying a ticket.

What he doesn’t want to do is irritate you. He doesn’t want to send you emails that you don’t want. But his business is tricky because he only knows certain things about you. And unfortunately, he isn’t psychic.

Ultimately, if Marco sends you an email that you want to read and you buy something, everybody wins. If Marco sends you an email that you don’t want to read, and it’s irritating, everybody loses.

Email marketers are doing their best to send you the stuff you want and better yet, the stuff you’re going to buy anyway. He wants you as a customer. I want to be his customer. And that’s part of why we’re here. To help Marco help you (and me).

[NOTE: The Direct Marketing Association has put together a nice set of guidelines and best practices for direct and email marketers. Most legitimate marketers follow these rules.]