My friend, Christopher Lars Carlson, recently posted a blog asking if one pays $0.50 for a click on a Facebook add, how much
would you pay for "every email address [one] gets as a result of clicks from your ads".
As a result I've been trying to think about the real value of an email address since I read the post a few days ago. Here are my thoughts.
I consider myself a pretty open person. I listen to new music daily, I read news, tweets and blogs that interest me every morning and subscribe to a pretty wide range of RSS feeds and mailing lists.
However, I myself have three email addresses. One of which I use precisely to get to content I wish to see but that requires me giving up an email address. In all honesty, I don't really want to receive emails from everyone who has something interesting to offer. Sure, I'll keep you on the periphery of my scope but there is simply too much content to keep track of. My email address (at least, the one I actually read!) is extremely valuable to me. It's my portal to the online world. It acts as a unique filter to siv through the overwhelming amount of information available on the net today.
If I'm listening to your music, and I have paid for your music - isn't that enough? Sure, the ideal is to have a nail-biting fan waiting by their inbox hoping to receive news from their favourite artist but I suspect a very small percentage of fans do this.
Take, for example, the 80/20 Principle. This is "the idea that in any situation roughly 80% of the 'work' will be done by 20 percent of the participants" (Malcolm Gladwell, Tipping Point). So in this case, if you had 100 email addresses, only 20 of those people (ie addresses) would be your die hard fans, giving you 80% of what you earn from selling through this medium. This minority of 20% is crucial to your success then. At least financially, they will make or break you.
I suspect that these kinds of fans arise only naturally, after some amount of time, and cannot be bought. The question I ask then is: 1) Is it worth buying an email address of a customer who will more than likely fall within that 80% majority bracket who don’t really spend money on your content?
I think that the value of an email address of a fan who willingly and enthusiastically gives it to me is incomparably greater than a fan's email address that I buy.
In conclusion, I simply would not pay anything for a fan's email address.