Aug 20, 2009 by Aaron Rubman
This week I conclude my series on e-mail deliverability inspired by the Lyris Inc panel featuring Michael Kelly of Click Mail Marketing, Craig Spiezie of the Online Trust Alliance, and David Fowler of Lyris Technologies. If you enjoyed this series, or found it useful, please comment on this post.
Origins of the term SPAM
Anyone telling you that SPAM is an acronym (at least in regards to its online usage) is pulling your leg. It comes from Monty Python’s SPAM skit, where SPAM manages to pervade every item on a restaurant menu and the very idea of avoiding or removing SPAM is beyond comprehension.
All things considered, it does serve as a rather apt allegory for unsolicited bulk e-mail (the technical definition of SPAM), which gets everywhere with no one knowing how to eradicate it without wiping out useful information as well.
Obscenity is in the Eye of the Beholder
And SPAM is most certainly a form of digital obscenity.
It does not matter what good you think your e-mails do for your recipients, if they do not like the content and do not think that they signed up for it (or worse still feel like they were tricked into signing up for it), you have sent SPAM.
If you speak to an audience of thousands, it should not concern you if one or two of them feel that your manner is offensive (everyone has some critics), but if there is a pattern of discontent, you should perk up and listen. Remember, your image online is most definitely a part of your overall image, and unless obscenity itself is your business, you do not want potential clients thinking of you as obscene.
Any time you add names to your mailing list with the sole purpose of increasing the size of your readership, you run the risk of becoming a spammer.
For instance, if all you want to do is increase the size of your mailing list, you may be tempted to buy a pre-made e-mail list. However, this is a great way to get into trouble. Remember, if the list is pre-made, that means people signed up (or were signed up) without knowing a thing about you or your product, and in most peoples minds an unknown correspondent means an unsolicited correspondence.
Do that in quantity and *BAM* unsolicited bulk e-mail. Intentional or not, you just became a spammer.
Pretend Like You’re on the Other Side
Think about the e-mails which you do not respond to. Odds are, they fall into one of three categories:
Senders You Don’t Trust: I don’t know about you, but I tend to chuck these e-mails without even reading them. If I don’t trust the sender, I’m not going to trust the Subject Line. Make sure that the people you add to your list know that they’re going to get e-mail from you.
E-mail You Don’t Find Relevant: An e-mail could have the best call to action in the world, but if you don’t want what they’re selling it won’t matter. Make sure that anyone you add to your mailing list is interested in what you offer.
E-mail With No Call to Action: If you do not know how to respond to an e-mail, of course you aren’t going to do so. Unfortunately, nowadays every e-mail comes with one call to action built in… the ability to report it as SPAM. If you want to make sure positive outcomes outweigh negative outcomes, you must give interested parties something to do so that you know how much of your readership you are actually engaging.
SPAM Free Growth in a Nutshell
Every time you plan to increase the size of your mailing list, try to put yourself in the shoes of a random person who is about to receive your first e-mail. If you would not be expecting the e-mail and/or would not have reason to be interested in it, find a new way to grow your list.
You want your recipients to at least expect and ideally anticipate the e-mail you send.