No holiday from e-mail…

Even on the cusp of this long Christmas weekend, there’s no rest for the weary.

The majority, or 59%, of working Americans check their work e-mails during Thanksgiving, Christmas and other traditional holidays, according to a survey by Xobni (“inbox” spelled backwards), a Silicon Valley startup that organizes Microsoft Outlook inboxes and address books.

Of those who do check e-mails during the holidays, 55% said they do so at least once a day and 28% do so multiple times per day.

Workers feel compelled to check e-mail outside of work to keep up with their jobs, noted Xobni’s senior director of product management.

Forty-two percent of the respondents also said they believe staying up-to-date during the holidays eases their workloads after having time off. In addition, with the increased popularity of smartphones, it is easier to access work e-mail and be on call all hours.

“Especially with mobile devices and laptops, people are taking them everywhere,” he said. Jacobson added that he also plans to check his e-mail over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Still, getting work related e-mails over the holidays is not always well-received. Forty-one percent feel annoyed, frustrated or resentful about it.

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Others, however, are finding work e-mails provide a much-needed reprieve from family time. Fifteen percent of respondents said they feel relieved or thankful for having the distraction of getting a work-related e-mail from colleagues or clients.

Here is a helpful stat;                                                                                                         Five percent said they purposefully check e-mail to avoid awkward family commitments.

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Are You Suffering from “E-mail” Stress?

When is too much e-mail too much? Try 50 or more messages a day.

I just read that according to a Harris Interactive survey, that 50 is the breaking point for employees’ daily allowance of e-mail. Anything more sets their heads spinning.

For some perspective consider a mind-blowing 90 trillion e-mails, or 247 billion a day, were sent last year, according to web-monitoring firm Pingdom.
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One in five people say 50 work-related e-mail messages per day is the magic number before they feel swamped. The effect is even more pronounced for smartphone users; 37% feel “overwhelmed” by 50 or more work e-mail, says Jonathan McCormick, COO of Intermedia, a web-based e-mail provider that sponsored the survey.

Here are some of the other key findings.

Small-business users are feeling the brunt. A staggering 94% of small-business employees said 50 e-mails is their limit. Geeze what a bunch of wimps…if I on receive 50 I worry that something went wrong with the server.

Gender makes no difference. Men and women are equally stressed — 94% of men and 95% of women cited the number 50.

Intermedia advises e-mail users to organize and prioritize their digital correspondence, and read and respond to incoming messages that require quick responses. Easier said than done now with the smart phone explosion there seems no escape from the deluge of e-mail

How to maintain a direct e-mail relationship and not breach consumer trust:

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Be cautious of treating your database as a homogeneous group. While they clearly have a shared interest, there are very likely strong differences as well. A database needs to be analyzed and organized to really unleash its full potential.

Protect and maintain the perception that records are being kept private at all costs, and repeatedly remind your database of the things you’re doing to ensure that.

Be prepared to quickly reply to questions or comments people in your database e-mail back to you.

Convey real news or offers, and don’t smother people with e-mails just because you can. Always have a real reason for contacting them. Ideally, you could do a short survey to find out how frequently they want to be contacted.

Make yourself stand out by knowing your competitors and what they’re offering. Bring something different to the table. There has to be a value exchange, whether it’s information-, entertainment or offer-based.

The Art of Personal Correspondence

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I usually write about high tech, interactive and even mobile marketing methods of reaching a consumer but today I will go back and take a new look at the art of personal correspondence.

Direct mail volume is down. Big traditional mailers are departing the scene. Costs are up. And a postal rate hike was on May 11th. But highly targeted and personalized direct mail can be an effective break-thru media during this spiraling recession.

Here’s why…

We are all inundated with opt-in and spam e-mail.

There’s no more magic, no anticipation and damn few new tricks to surprise us. E-mail has become institutionalized and with broad scale acceptance and use come response rate plateaus.

Nobody gets personal mail any more.

Of the 199.4 billion pieces of mail that the post office delivers less than 3.8 percent is actual personal relevant human-to-human content. Mail is an underused channel to connect directly with people, even though our mailboxes are full of stuff.
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The clear implication is that if you write somebody a personal letter , one that looks, feels and smells like a personal letter not an ad in an envelope using personal, individualized information, you have a shot a genuinely touching and communicating with a customer or prospect. It’s a rare chance to capitalize on the unexpected.

Refined creative tactics exist.

Direct mail creatives have tested and refined an array of techniques to optimize opens and response (the twin moments of truth). We have a corpus of knowledge on the size, shape, texture, color, fonts, forms of address, key words, tone and which authorial voice to use in which circumstances to address which audiences. The trick is to blend this expertise with purchase history or behavioral data to create a compelling, relevant, personal, maybe even intimate form of communication. The technology to do this, and still make it look private, individual and personal, is widely available.

Mail enables small batch laser targeting.

While the big volume mailers and carpet bombers are cutting back and scrambling to survive, returning to the basic letter format gives marketers a perfect platform for targeting and testing. Even with a medium that costs 10 times more than e-mail, even small firms can afford to word process and mail hundreds or thousands of carefully selected and targeted names. Whether the focus is acquisition, retention, loyalty or usage stimulation a personal letter can cost effectively move the needle.

There’s a first mover advantage to be had.

Because so many direct marketers are bombing customers and prospects with self-mailers, double-sided postcards, snap-packs, letter packages that scream “I’m an ad” on the envelope, coupons, flyers, catalogs, circulars, postcards, faux invitations, faux greeting cards, faux bills, faux official documents and all kinds of other printed SPAM, the personal letter won’t work if everybody does it. The victory will go to the first mover who does it right because it will be so different and unexpected.

You can leverage remembered joy.

As children we all were surprised and delighted by something special that came to us in the mail from someone special far away. The memory and the feelings of that moment are stored and carried around by millions of people. A well-crafted personal letter taps the reservoir of good will and belief that these memories represent. Mail, more than pixels, carry embedded emotions. These impulses and sentiments can be directed your way.