The Cost of Email in the Digital Neighbourhood

Who pays for email?

Email servers aside, email is essentially free. It’s free to send an email to thousands of email addresses. If the process is automated, the time cost is also nothing.

The recipient, on the other hand, pays for the email in time and attention (even if it’s nothing more than the split-second it takes to hit “delete”). Whenever you send a mass email, you’re asking something of its recipients. You’re asking them to pay attention, to take a minute out of their day to hear you out.

It costs much more to receive an email than to send one.

That’s why we get annoyed at repeat spammers. Unwelcome, uninvited, inconsiderate email sent without a second thought as to the cost to the recipient. They deliver their spam effortlessly, and we’re left to clean up the mess.

It’s no wonder that we’ve learned to guard our email address and instantly hit “delete” on any suspicious-looking emails.

If you have an email list, how can you avoid being one of “those” annoying spammers? How can you show you care via the inbox?

I Have Something to Give You

Several years ago, my housemates and I held a housewarming party, and invited all the neighbours. I went door-to-door handing out invitations. I loved watching the expressions of our neighbours as they at first peeked suspiciously out at me from their behind their front door. Once I introduced myself as their neighbour (who was inviting them to a party, no less), the tone completely changed as they smiled warmly and opened the door.

After years of door-to-door salespeople and others who just wanted something, our neighbours had rightfully learned to be wary of any unwelcome guests on the doorstep. But it was easy to win them over once they realized that I was there to give.

Whenever we send an email to our subscribers, we have an opportunity. Either to be a taker or a giver. Either to ask for something (the expected), or to give and to delight (the remarkable). If your readers have given you their attention you, like a good neighbour, have the opportunity to reciprocate.

Better to be known as the generous neighbour, even in the digital neighbourhood.

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