Apr 5, 2006

SPAM 101

Two interesting CAN-SPAM related articles I recently came across:

Why are so many email marketers unaware of CAN-SPAM?

It’s the mistaken assumption that, "I’m not a spammer. Therefore, I don’t send spam, and therefore I don’t have to worry about spam laws or blacklisting or deliverability issues."

But spam isn’t all "V1agra-p1lls!" and "RoL3X Watches!"

You too could be a "spammer" and not even know it…

Forget all the legal definitions and loopholes for a minute.

  • Spam is a newsletter blasted out to people you met 2 years ago, who
    forgot who the heck you are by now.
  • Spam is an amazing offer you’re emailing "to customers who have purchased something, somewhere, on our website at some time in the past."
  • Spam is an email coupon you’re
    finally sending out to "customers" who dropped their business cards
    into a fish-bowl at your cash register.
  • Spam is a promotion you’re
    emailing to a purchased list of fellow members of a local organization.

The thing that makes all that seemingly innocent stuff "spam" is that you don’t have permission to email those recipients. Sure, they may have somehow given you their email addresses. But that’s not permission to send them email marketing. Send email marketing without permission (even to customers), and you’ll get reported for spamming with a click of a button.

Are you sitting on a list of emails that you’ve collected from your website over the last few years? Got a stack of business cards from people you’ve met at tradeshows dating back to the late 90s? Collecting business cards in a fish bowl in your store?

Don’t just assume those people want to be "opted-in" to your email marketing. If you suddenly start sending them full-blown marketing emails "out of the blue," you’re going to lose a lot of customers.  Send them an invitation to join your list. Remind them of how you met, and provide a link to sign-up for your newsletter or special email promotions. If they don’t sign-up, fine. Keep ’em in your address book. Just don’t send them email marketing.