A report published by security firm Symantec at the start of July states there has been a decline in the number of spam emails received by consumers with fewer than 50% of emails now reported as junk. The recent announcement gives some interesting food for thought regarding the relevance of marketing emails in the present day and the impact this decline in spam will have on its future.

Spam is noxious and tarnishes the reputation of all email marketing. Now with the decline of spam will authentic email marketing be able to fulfil its true potential?

The bane of all internet security professionals and online marketers’ lives, I would define spam as an unwarranted intrusion into consumers’ inboxes, an email that nobody desires. The consequences of spammers unloading millions of emails into inboxes worldwide is that people are less likely to open any marketing email – especially if it is not personal to them. Consumers are often overwhelmed by the number of emails sent to their inboxes every day. The sheer volume often means that emails from a person or company they do not know often get deleted. Spam doesn’t care, it takes a scatter gun approach to marketing, send a message to as many people as possible and see who bites. It’s the internet equivalent of deep sea trawling, catching all manner of humankind and not caring about the casualties along the way.

Therefore a decline in spam emails is to be welcomed by everyone, especially companies which rely on email to connect with their consumers. With fewer spam emails jostling for position within our inboxes, there is now higher possibility of your email getting attention.

An additional benefit to marketers is the increase in trust this decline could unlock. A reduction in spam will make consumers more confident that the messages they receive via email are important to them and not irrelevant, ill-timed messages that clog up their inbox.

Spam messages reduce confidence and trust. Consequently if spam reduces, then logic dictates that there is an opportunity for the public’s trust in email to increase and it will become a more valuable channel for communication.
I would caution however that this is not an excuse for marketers to rest on their laurels. The success of an email marketing campaign is still built upon its relevance. To fully engage with your consumers you need a perfect mix of targeting the right people, at the right time and with the right message. The fall in spam does not negate this.

Effectively segmenting your target audience not only increases the effectiveness of your campaign, but also stops your email from being sent into the spam black hole by filters. It has the added benefit of not annoying your customers with irrelevant and ill-timed messages, a cardinal sin of spam emails.

This is where big data and data science becomes essential in identifying your consumers and their behaviour. Data science allows you to effectively target your customers. If spam takes a scatter gun approach then data science is your sniper, allowing your message to travel right to the heart of your target.

Massive amounts of data can now be obtained and analysed by companies to give better insight into their target audiences. Intelligently used, this can in turn filter into the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns, allowing us to build a clear picture of a potential customer and gain a full understanding of the best methods to target them.

Another exciting opportunity created through the use of data science is the ability to predict an individual’s behavioural patterns; in turn allowing your marketing campaign to reach a person with the information they need at the right moment. When you reach a person with a message which they feel adds value to their life, it aids in building a relationship with that person. This is a goal all companies should aspire to.

The reduction in spam gives us an opportunity to revive email marketing as a valuable asset to both companies and consumers, giving us a clearer voice to speak to our customers. My suggestion is to capitalise on this and not to believe that this is the time to get lazy. The success of any email rests on its relevance.

You should only contact consumers only when you have something to say to them, which is based on your knowledge of them. Check your assumptions about when to talk to your audience. Your optimum send time is hugely influenced by competing email and you should consider testing different send times for your communications. It will also be worthwhile to track the impact the decline in spam has had on customer engagement and therefore the effectiveness of your email campaign. Critically, you must ensure that your organisation uses this valuable information to back up your next email campaign and make the most of this moment to engage.

The decline in spam emails has created a golden opportunity for companies to revive their email marketing campaigns. With the correct mix of people, message and timing the moment is right for a resurgence in email marketing. Make sure that moment doesn’t pass you by.

Mike Weston

Mike Weston


Mike Weston, CEO at data science consultancy Profusion