For example, James recently moved and had to notify the U. S. Postal Service of his change of address. When he opened the envelope from the Postal Service, it was full of ads for home improvement centers, insurance firms, and other businesses commonly frequented by those who have recently moved. After he moved, he received the same ads in direct mail that had been included in the envelope.
Not only did those companies know he probably would need to do business with companies like the ones in the ads, but they knew how to reach him most effectively, by repeating the ads multiple times. In psychology, this is called priming—repeating the same message multiple times to get a desired result. Direct marketers have used this technique successfully for decades. Digital marketers have tried the push model from the beginning. But it never worked very well. Why not?Because web users are not a captive audience.
They “opt in” to only the information they want to consume. You could say that opting out, such as deleting an email or abandoning a web page, is a lot like recycling a piece of direct mail. The difference is that you can keep sending direct mail to the same customer even after he has recycled 100 pieces, hoping to hit the mark with some of them, but web users are always moving and seeking information rather than waiting motionless for information to find them. It’s always been called “surfing” for a reason. Automated spam filters constantly evolve for a reason.
It’s not that push marketing never works. And we aren’t trying to get you to stop all push marketing. We are trying to persuade you that employing solely push techniques causes you to send more and more emails, to buy more and more display ads, and to blanket your audience with more and more interruptions. If 99% of them are not interested, eventually your audience will find ways to tune it all out. That said, it is also true that you need to prime your audience to help them discover you. If your content is high quality, sharing it will be welcome—and that’s what you are aiming for.
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