Even if a PC is a shared device, it’s not often that you have a whole group of people crowded around it all reading email at one time. After all, PC stands for “Personal Computer” and even in an office environment, most people consider their desktop to be personal space. Try reading over someone’s shoulder sometime if you don’t believe me.
Even though the perception of personal space is often influenced heavily by culture, I would argue that most people are naturally very territorial about their desktop and by association, their inbox. As well, I think I can make the argument that in most cultures where people can afford their own PC, that perception of a personal space boundary is reasonably consistent.
I often compare the inbox to the front door of a person’s home. Not everyone in the email marketing business agrees completely with this analogy, but I think at the very least we would all do well to keep it in mind. No one likes to have a salesperson show up at their home and knock on their door during dinner to sell them aluminum siding. People don’t appreciate having their personal territory and privacy encroached on by salespeople who are uninvited.
Just as with someone’s front door, email marketing professionals must respect the personal space of the inbox and demonstrate that with permission based marketing which is relevant, engaging and timely. Knocking on someone’s front door at the wrong time or with an offer which is not relevant to the person’s needs assures you will not make a sale and may result in the door being slammed on your foot (spam button clicked). Permission based email marketing means you have an invitation and will not have a door slammed on you.
Smartphones take this personal space perception to all new levels. While some surveys have found that people are more likely to open an email marketing message on their smartphone, how the device is employed makes it even more personal than a desktop computer. The very fact that these devices travel with us make them that much more a part of our personal lives. The smartphone is not just our communicator, but also our tool for documenting our lives, connecting with our friends and family and our personal information resource.
The coming of the smartphone means subscribers will become more and more demanding of email marketers where timing and relevance are concerned. That timing margin of error will become much smaller – don’t send me an email to my phone about a breakfast special at lunch.
While we are on the subject of smartphones, have you downloaded our new iPhone app? Get the details here!
Respecting the inbox is as important as respecting a person’s property and front door. Don’t go where you are not invited and you’ll get warmer welcomes.