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A brand is emailing you right now

A story from Vox says brands send more than half of all the emails on the planet. I’m responsible for my share of those emails, and most land with a resounding thud. But they’re still a better thud than social media, which is also teeming with brands. The whole piece is worth a read, but this part caught my attention:

Email is back in fashion, in part because advertising on Instagram has gotten more expensive and less effective, in part because users are turning on platforms Twitter and Facebook (Christopher Best, chief executive of the venture-capital funded newsletter startup Substack, told the New York Times he founded his company in part because he felt “this growing sense of despair in traditional social media”). But largely, I think, because it intertwines so nicely with the strangest consumer trend of our lifetimes, which is the erosion of the divide between commerce and personal interaction.

The story notes emails have a better chance of making a sale to the tune of 38:1 vs social media. And if you’re wondering who responds to all the junk mail you get, the answer is “probably someone you know”. I get at least two people a week asking me “Is this service worth looking into?” When it’s just a stone-cold spam email.

If brands are people, or at least pretending to be a person, then a lot of them are terrible.

Related to my last post about brandbuilding being a thing people do instead of a thing people are, this Reddit thread caught my attention.

A whole slew of people doing what I do and recognizing:

  1. Using social media rots your brain
  2. We’re the people making people’s brains rot
  3. We use it because we have to
  4. Like a good drug dealer, never use your own product

The hardest part of doing what I do is maintaining the psychopathic ability to shift myself into caring about different things on demand. On Thursday I was concerned with the needs of at-risk children. On Friday I was trying to help people get jobs. On Saturday I was a cop and horse lover. Was I ever any of those things? Who knows. Least of all, me.

In the relentless pursuit of people comparing themselves to others’ vacations, kids, bodies, careers, etc. Companies compare themselves to other companies’ sales, look, services, etc. That’s not always a bad thing, but there’s a limit to what you can see. Post hoc ergo propter hoc: They posted a photo and got 30 shares and they’re big, we need to post a photo and get 30 shares so we’ll be big. But what made them big was usually just having a better product. It lasts longer, goes faster, helps more, saves more, or something.

Another email or two isn’t likely to change things. No one grew into a beloved anything by sending people a 10% off coupon.

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Photo of Justin Harter


Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

He has worked for some of Indiana’s largest companies, state government, taught college-level courses, and about 1.1M people see his work every year.

You’ll probably see him around Indianapolis on a bicycle.

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