Email Spam by Accident?

by Dave on February 7, 2011

Don’t be an Email Spammer!

email spamAttention Small Businesses: A sloppy approach to email marketing can ruin your brand, damage your reputation or, in the worse case, kill your ability to conduct business by email. You may be a spammer and not even know it.

We all know the “old” email spam, advertising Viagra or get rich at home schemes, but lately I’ve seen a different kind of spam – sent by legitimate small operations trying to promote their business, but done in a way that is absolutely wrong. Bad subject lines, bad copy, poorly crafted, and not in compliance with the regulations. Most senders appear to be gathering the email addresses themselves, or worse yet, buying a list for their ill-conceived marketing efforts.

Legit or not, it’s still email spam

Doesn’t matter if you are a real business with a real product, if you violate the CAN-SPAM Act, you’re still a spammer. I’m seeing two consistent CAN-SPAM no-no’s

  • There is no existing business relationship – most of them appear to be using “harvested” or generic addresses (info@, admin@, etc.)
  • No unsubscribe mechanism or opt out feature

Worst of all, most of these emails are coming straight out of an email account on their business’ domain. Very few are using an email service provider (which, by the way are set up to stop this very issue from happening)

You’re not going to jail

If you’re doing this you probably aren’t even going to get a fine. But the punishment may end up being worse, especially if you use your business email account to send these messages.

Start sending these messages and people will flag them as spam. Send enough and destination service providers (like Yahoo, Gmail, and big companies) will flag you as a spammer and stop delivering your messages. Want every business contact with a Gmail account not to get your emails? Start sending out SPAM to people @gmail.com.

It can get worse. If someone complains to your service provider or hosting service, you can get your email account shut down. If the problem is bad enough, all your company’s email accounts could get shut down.

Do it Right

Even if you don’t get shut down or shut out, sending email solicitations to people you don’t know puts you in the same class as get rich quick and other shady operations – probably not the association you want. Just don’t do it. Interested in doing it right – read more about The Right Way to Email Market over on the Think Locally Blog.

Photo credit: arnold|inuyaki

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