Once upon a time, Internet users condemned unsolicited commercial email, or spam, because it violated a code of behavior known as "Netiquette." That word is rarely used today, in part because of the rapid growth and commercialization of the Internet. But just because the Net has become commercial doesn't mean spam is all right. Here are ten compelling reasons why businesspeople should not spam:
- You'll get flamed
Some businesspeople have pretty thick skins and don't mind the occasional insult. But for most of us it can be pretty unnerving to receive a torrent of abuse, which can range from vicious profanity to death threats.
- Technological retaliation
The Internet is home to some pretty sophisticated people, who know how to shut down your mail server, your Web site, or maybe even your ISP. Also, they can play havoc with your phone service, toll-free lines and fax machine.
- Loss of Internet services
It's almost certain that spamming is against the policies of your ISP. If your ISP finds out you're spamming, chances are they'll terminate your Internet access and remove your Web site. This may be the case even if you didn't send your spam via their system.
- It's unethical
Every other advertising method pays its freight. Direct mail, radio and TV advertising, magazine and newspaper advertising, telemarketing, Web advertising, opt-in email - - in every case, the advertiser pays the cost of distributing the message. But spammers attempt to take a free ride at someone else's expense -- including the recipient, who has to pay for Internet access. When you spam, you are in effect stealing someone else's computing resources.
- Legal problems
Because spamming involves hijacking someone else's resources, ISPs have been able to make good legal cases against spammers for abuse of their networks. In addition, several U.S. states now have anti-spam laws that can result in significant judgments against spammers.
- Damage to your company's reputation
Unsolicited commercial email is widely hated by Internet users. If your company becomes known as one that uses this method, it could result in damaging publicity. How often do you hear about spam coming from the successful Internet companies -- Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, CDNow?
- Danger of getting ripped off
Most of the companies that offer to send out bulk email are fly-by-night operations. In many cases, they will take your money and promise to send out your ad -- but you'll receive no verification that the ad was ever sent out. When you call the company to find out how things went, you'll get that familiar message: "The number you have called is no longer in service."
- It antagonizes the market
Spam is a big problem on the Internet and reflects badly on online marketing in general. If you buy into this abusive practice, you're contributing to the bad impression many users have of marketers -- including the many people who are trying to make email marketing respectable by using opt-in methods.
- It doesn't work
The only ones who really make money with spam are the spam providers themselves -- the people who take advertisers' money and send out the bulk email. I don't know of any successful Internet business that has used spam successfully and made it a part of their marketing mix.
- Permission-based marketing does work
Marketers who are incorporating ethical email strategies into their Internet marketing efforts are enjoying success. Email is a great way to reach out proactively to your audience on the Internet. Internet users are glad to receive commercial email and ezines targeted to their interests -- as long as they are not placed on lists without their permission.
Understanding the request form...
- What are you selling: Most email campaigns are selling a product or service. Name that product and/or service in this field. (for example: security services, accounting software)
- Target Market: Name here who you see as the market or potential buyers of your product/service. (for example: home owners, accountants)
- Size of your mailing: How many emails do you plan to send -- this will affect your potential revenue and cost. (for example: 100,000 to 250,000)
- Your Time Frame: When do you plan to do your mailing? (for example: mailing within one month)
- Campaign Details: Give a more complete description of what you are planning. (for example: I plan to do 3 sequential mailings to homeowners in New Jersey in order to sell a new security system.)