Email Campaigns - Grandma Keeps Rats In The Attic

Grandma’s Lonely Story

Let's assume that there is a lonely grandma sitting at home; her husband is gone and her family lives elsewhere.  Grandma is longing for some interaction with others.  Think of our websites like that lonely grandma, which is ignored and does not have any traffic.  Grandma figures out a way to have some human interaction.  She boards her cat elsewhere for a period while she puts plates of cheese in the attic and leaves breadcrumb trails from the outside to her attic, hoping to attract some rats.

Once the rats find their way into her attic, Grandma calls the exterminators to come take care of the rats.  She keeps careful count of each rat's visit and tells the exterminator about them.  The exterminator is impressed and figures out a specific plan for getting rid of the rats.  Of course, all the new activity at her house has caught the attention of her neighbors.  When they come asking Grandma what all the activity is about, she explains in great detail the event behind each rats visit and what she is doing about it.  This causes great interest in the neighborhood because the neighbors also want to know how to deal with rats in their attic.

Grandma is happy at how much traffic she has caused.  She is no longer lonely.   Grandma has discovered that all this neighborhood activity is creating even more neighborhood activity, mostly centered on her house, even her attic.  Grandma starts thinking about her next campaign to keep the activity she has now grown a custom to.

Websites are like Grandma’s Lonely Story

We can apply similar concepts to our “grandma”, our website.  Let’s assume that an email campaign is like putting plates of cheese in our attic, with breadcrumbs, to invite the rats.  How is that done?  Easy, when using HTML code in our email, which have hyperlinks to images which reside on our server; our website domain becomes Grandma’s attic.  A hyperlinked image is like a breadcrumb trail to the plate of cheese.  These trails lead to posting counts, our server logs, for the exterminators (search engine bots) to count and analyze. 

The email recipients simply need to activate the image links in their email client to see the image, which causes the log entry.  This means that the language in the email must be interesting enough to encourage the email reader to activate the image.   This is the enticement Grandma is extends; which results in a hit on our site, and is logged (kind of like grandma keeping count) so that the variety of bots (search engine crawler robots) have something to analyze and rate the traffic, or visitors.

As a responsible neighbor, Grandma makes sure that her rats do not unduly annoy the neighbors.  She is careful to put warning messages out to her neighbors reminding them that they can ignore the signs of rats simply by not following them.  In the email campaign, this is the warning message found at the bottom of all good email campaigns which provide an unsubscribe notice.  If your email campaign does not have one of these messages, you are quickly identified by your neighbors as a keeper of varmints, and will find yourself lonely once more. 

Grandmas are neighborly – Spammers are miscreants

Good neighbors are always neighborly, even if they are craving attention.  They would never want to do anything that might be harmful to their neighbors.  For instance, it is easy to capture an email visitor’s IP address through well designed email campaigns.  However, using those IP addresses for anything other than market information aggregation to improve upon your company’s services is very un-neighborly and in some cases in violation of the  CAN SPAM Act of 2003

There are many aggressive spammers out there that we should all help police against so that innocent grandmas don’t find themselves in trouble just for wanting a little attention.  And, of course, let’s not crucify grandma, when we really want to stop the miscreants.  There is no public advantage to capturing the easy, even innocent, target and letting the hard target go free.  It can even sour our good intentions for eradicating the planet of the miscreants when we have simply put a bunch of grandmas behind bars.  After all, some of our fondest relationships originated at Grandma’s house.

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