Topic: E-Marketing

Your Opinions Please: Unsolicited Email In The Us

Posted by telemoxie on 3000 Points
It seems to be the opinion of many participants in this forum that unsolicited email is not something which "reputable companies" will do. Many have suggested that marketers create content-based web sites and build an opt-in list - and many consultants who participate in this forum can help companies do just that.

Yet many who visit the forum seem to want to send unsolicted emails. Unsolicited emails are legal under certain conditions in the US. Small companies may not have the marketing budget or the time to create and maintain elaborate sites to become "thought leaders".

I'm not interested in hearing your rant about SPAM.

What I am interested to know is: where do you personally draw the line, between "acceptable" unsolicted email, and "unacceptable" unsolicited email?

For example, I subscribe to eFax, and can receive FAXes for free - but as a subscriber to the service (which I highly recommend) I occasionally get an unsolicted email, which I'm happy to glance at and delete. I know that the sender must pay eFax to send the message, and I consider the companies reputable and proper for sending these.

Also, if I have my email address posted on a web site, and someone reads my web page, feels we have a reason to communicate, and sends me a short text-only email with a link to their site, I typically appreciate their efforts.

Where do you draw the line - as a sender, and as a receiver of unsolicited email?
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  • Posted by Billd724 on Accepted
    Dave --

    Good one.

    You've focused the issue very well. Where is the 'line' that can be crossed with email?

    To me, it's not about the volume of it, but the value of it.

    If email, unexpected and unsolicited, is both respectful and relevant, then I have no issue with getting it. If it's not, then I do.

    Truth be told, I do appreciate the respectful, relevant surprises that 'unexpected and unrequested' email brings my way.

    I won't belabor the issue and steal space from others who will weigh in on this . . . and I thank you for helping me realign my thinking on this issue.

  • Posted by darcy.moen on Accepted
    Spam is best defined by the recipient, and always will be defined by the recipient.

    Because one has an email address, it is not an open licence for others to send messages to it. Anyone who sends a message to a recipient should realize that there is a usually a real live person on the other end. Communication is one thing, unwanted communication another.

    Because the sender sees value in a message, there is no assurance the recipient will feel the same way, and it is fool hearty if the sender thinks that every message sent is wanted.

    I like to view a recipient's email in box as an extension of their personality, and their personal space. I also like to think of any message sent is a guest in the recipient's house. There are certain responsibilities and protocols a guest should follow.

    One: be polite. This is not your house, so follow the host's house rules.

    Two: be courteous. Say 'Please' and 'Thank you'.

    Three: know when you are not wanted.

    Four: know when to leave and when not to return.

    The reason why so many of this forum recommend a content rich web site and an opt in email list is because a web site allows a potential customer or client get to know more about you and your business in an anonymous fashion. The web site visitor gets to know you, or can leave, without making an 'investment' with you. Yes, giving up an email address is an investment on your web visitors part. It is personal information, and it is being 'given' to you in trust. It is also an Indicator of Interest, nothing more. Do not violate trust, and do not read more than just interest into a customers intentions.

    This is the tipping point. The customer has made a commitment and an investment in you. They have become a 'qualified' lead. This is where the over ambitious and the unskilled make the biggest mistake....they swamp the customer.

    Just like dating, you wouldn't jump right to planning the would take small steps and get to know one another. Maybe get to a small kiss, and eventually end up at the alter. No need to rush things.

    It is so easy to write and hit send. It is so easy to offend with careless use of technology. Sending email to folks you don't know is much like running down the street asking every pretty (and not so pretty) girl if they would like to sleep with you. You might get one yes, but you'll get your face slapped a lot. Slow down, and take planned steps. Nurture a budding relationship, and encourage it to grow into a long term one.

    Darcy Moen
    Customer Loyalty Network
  • Posted by Harry Hallman on Accepted
    I agree with Billd724 that the message must be relevant, so whether it is an optin list or a "cold call" list it must be well targeted and relevant.

    My experience has been:

    1- Opt in lists generated via general list gathering sites do not get opened or responded to as much as a list you have gathered yourself through in store collection or registrations for white papers and such.
    2- A personal opt-in list and a "cold call" type list that is well targeted get about the same open rates and response rates.
    3- In a B 2 B environment it is very difficult to get people to sign up so you almost always have to find a way to create your own list based on available very targeted sources. These could include, or

    If they ask to be taken off a list then take them off the list before you send another email. Give them a way to opted out. You know the rest.

    I would venture to say that most everybody who provides marketing services does it this way. I could be wrong and would love to learn about a more effective method.

    Harry Hallman
  • Posted by tim on Accepted

    Like everyone else, I am seemingly inundated with unsolicited emails.

    My behavior is as follows: I glance at the preview screen and, if it doesn't look like something I asked for, have time for, or am interested in (value beyond a simple ad), I delete it forthwith. The only things that usually get through are messages that appear to be inquiries (vs. advertisements) and/or sent to me individually.

    If I haven't opted in, I'm generally not interested in seeing it - no matter what it is. I, in turn, do business the same way. We never send out unsolicited information. I'd like to, but I believe we are all so SPAM'd out, it wouldn't result in a positive outcome anyway.

    I wish you the best in your research.

  • Posted by Deremiah *CPE on Accepted
    Hi Telemoxie,

    Hope you're having a great day but let's cut to the chase. I've read everybody's input and we've got a lot of interesting ideas flowing in both hemispheres of my right and left brain right about now but here's how I feel.

    Your question...What I am interested to know is: where do you personally draw the line, between "acceptable" unsolicted email, and "unacceptable" unsolicited email?

    First of all I'm a very busy man with very little patience for ridiculous request of any type. The further away the email is from the ridiculous and the closer it is to being sincere the better. But the acceptable unsolicited emails that have gotten my attention and really impressed me are the ones that have the following:

    1) the person is respectful and sincere in their approach.

    2) They have researched my area of strength and without a shadow of a doubt know that I can help them.

    3) The person is not asking me to help them with something beyond my natural ability. I.E., I have the skill sets for the work they need...Motivational Speaker, Sales Evangelist, Customer Service Evangelist etc, etc.

    4) The person will be willing to take my advice and "Take ACTION" on the advice I give them. If I think there is a book that I have read that offers them more personal input than I am able to offer for free they must read the book.

    Any email where the person is expecting me to take them by the hand and walk them through life without making any human effort. They must take interest first in their own Dreams, Goals and Desires. Of course they can not expect me to help with request to purchase something that they want me to buy just because they make a request. This type of email is purely one of a selfish nature.

    if the person sending it is willing to serve the best interest of others. Otherwise the email is self centered and INSTANTLY DELETED.

    Without a doubt YES...And when I get tired of their company focused self centered approach to customer relationships I OPT-OUT.

    Most organizations don't ask enough questions about what kind of emails their customers would like to receive. Therefore they often fail to really reach their customers on a level that becomes a WIN, WIN for all involved. Remember our only real problem in life is our failure to be "MORE Creative" than we’ve ever been. If you “Invent” your opportunity YOU WILL most definitely create your future. I'm only an email away from you if you need my help. Is there anything else I can do for you?

    Your Servant, Deremiah, *CPE (Customer Passion Evangelist)
  • Posted by Chris Blackman on Accepted
    Hi Dave,

    Thanks for the question.

    Several others have already pointed out that spam is a conceptual perception which, like any subjective value, is valid for the recipient and exists uniquely in the mind of each recipient. Each recipient will place a different interpretation on an e-mailed piece, although many might classify something as "spam".

    If you send me ads for pharmaceuticals like the ones my system routinely rejects, that's spam and it's unacceptable. But the day I'm looking for a pharmacologically-provided answer, that's the day the e-mail you send me telling where I can get the stuff has some immediate value to me!

    To me, acceptable unsolicited e-mail has a number of attributes:

  • It is targeted - you must genuinely think I am going to be interested in the contents.

  • You are not simply sending out a large number of e-mails randomly to recipients, hoping for a 0.0001% response rate. That's a spammer's technique.

  • Whether we have had some kind of a prior relationship or not, you must always provide me with an unsubscribe link, and it must be one that I can trust. It must be immediately effective. Automated. Preferably one run by an independent verifiable third party (like Constant Contact). Telling me I can write to a dodgy-sounding address in Panama City just isn't going to cut it. Neither is having no unsubscribe link at all. And telling me to reply with "Unsubscribe" in the subject - uh-uh, no...

  • If you open up the conversation in a personal tone first, asking if it would be OK to send an e-mail about a subject that you think might be of value to me, I am probably going to be more positive about the ensuing contents.

  • The content must read like a one-to-one communication. If I get a sense that you wrote to me and many thousands of others all at the same time, I am going to feel like I have been lumped into some kind of grouping that I may not want to be in.

  • If you do these things, chances are your unsolicited e-mail will get through most e-mail filters and should show up in the recipient's inbox.

  • BTW I usually don't even get to see spam - it never even reaches my inbox because I use MailGuard which stops it all out on the web. So the system applies a whole series of rules to decide whether I should even be told about an e-mail... I can go check the list of quarantined e-mail if I like, but I can't remember when it last gave me a "false positive".

    Hope this helps.


  • Posted by SRyan ;] on Accepted
    Dave, this is a helluva question! I hope I can add something of value, although I already agree with much that has been posted (especially by Jim and Chris).

    I've got three email addresses that I use. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has a permanent personal address, a business address, and (at least) one address that I use for various online transactions. If you exclude the slew of obvious spamagrams, the amount of "unsolicited" email I get at all three addresses is surprisingly low.

    Like you, I expect to see some incoming messages from sponsors of free services I use. Case in point: MarketingProfs! About 95% of the members here are Basic subscribers, so they get at least one advertisement from a marketing-focused vendor per week. And many folks get a promo message about seminars or Premium membership per week, too. That's how MProfs covers the production costs of all the free content, but I know some recipients get frustrated that they can't just get the weekly newsletter alone. C'est la vie. Does that fall under the "unsolicited" category, though? They ostensibly know that they will get mail like that when they subscribe. :)

    I'm like Jim — the From line and the Subject line drive my decision whether to even glance at the content in an email. And like Chris — I'll read a message if it seems personal and relevant. Unlike a lot of others here, though, I honestly don't go nuts looking for a legitimate Unsubscribe option. Maybe I don't bother because frankly, I just don't trust that those links always work.

    So... I'm willing to give a lot of senders a chance, as long as their message makes it through my virus/spam filters. Maybe that's because I spend so much time and energy MYSELF writing messages with subject lines that are worth opening and reading. I appreciate a well-crafted email more than most people, I suppose!

  • Posted by Harry Hallman on Accepted
    I thought you might like to see the results of a survey we conducte with 21-35 year olds this year. The two questions and there answers that realte are below. This was a consumer list but still provides insight fro all email marketing.

    When you receive a message what criteria do you use before opening or accepting it?
    From a source I know and trust 51%
    I know sender personally 30%
    The subject interest me 16%

    Why would you reject a communication?
    Open response answers were mostly “from an unknown source”

    Harry Hallman
  • Posted on Accepted
    If an unsolicited email looks like a one-of-a-kind message to ME, I'm going to read it. Projects I'm involved in mean I could get messages from people I don't yet know. However, if it looks like a sales message, I delete it. I'm virtually never going to buy something because of an email message. Even if it were something I might be interested in, the channel's credibility is below zero as a means of advertising. I do subscribe to lots of listservs, and read many of their messages. So to me email is a great way to inform people (or to get information); it's a way to build a relationship if you're working one to one (or simulating one to one). I don't see how any legitimate business could use it to generate new leads anymore.
  • Posted by telemoxie on Author
    Great comments so far, please keep them coming.

    The reason I have posted this is: I've tried to implement the "Golden rule" in outbound marketing. I've tried to make the sort of outbound phone calls that I would like to receive myself. And I typically ask folks how they would prefer to receive info: by mail, by FAX, by email...

    In the last 6 months or so, I believe I'm seeing a change in attitudes towards email. There was a time when email marketing was new and exciting, before SPAM was totally out of control. There was a time when the huge volume of SPAM created a backlash against any email from an unknown source. Now it seems to me we may be moving into a new time, when the rules are changing.

    For example, I call on very large companies on behalf of a number of clients. Many CXOs have published their email addresses on their web sites, and if you reach their secretaries, and ask the best way to introduce yourself, an increasingly typical response is, "Send the email directly to his or her email address, I will print it out and route it appropriately, if there is an interest, we will let you know.' I personally believe that in many cases, this is exactly what happens.

    And so email, in these cases, is not only an acceptable way to introduce oneself, it is in fact the preferred way.

    Many larger companies are implementing "vendor mailboxes" and other techniques to somehow gain control of their relationships with new vendors (and many companies are trying to reduce the number of vendors - so the time to get in is NOW). Six months ago, most requested snail mail. Today, it seems to me that most request or suggest email.

    In addition, in attempting to expand the level of service I offer my clients, I've been asking folks if they generally prefer to receive postcards, or letters as an introduction. To my suprise, the majority say they prefer email.

    Times are changing. Attitudes are changing.

    Last week, one of my clients called me, with one of his prospects on the line, to introduce me. My client was trying to throw me some business, and was giving me an excellent recommendation, and so they gave me a call. Quite honestly, I would have preferred an email.

    What I am interested to know is: where do you personally draw the line, between "acceptable" unsolicted email, and "unacceptable" unsolicited email?
  • Posted by Frank Hurtte on Accepted
    I tend to draw the line on spam as mail for which I have no interest whatsoever, from someone I have never dealt with.
    For instance, I now have over 5000 people in my auto delete file for sending anything that has to do with Viagra, low mortgage rates, credit cards, or introductions to wanton women in my neighborhood.

    What I do find is that I sign up for something then my interest changes and the emails continue.

    Here is the issue for those of us who are building businesses and marketing. Sending information out that is interesting and sent often enough that we stay in the front mind of potential clients, without being so often that they hit the auto delete button.
  • Posted by GJA-Miami on Accepted
    I use a BlackBerry to screen my e-mails since I am constantly on the road. Under normal circumstances, I get a snapshot of the first few lines as soon as the message comes in, and anything that comes from someone I don't recognize and looks general (e.g. subject line = "Invoice", "Your account", "Meeting", etc.) automatically gets deleted without a look.

    On the other hand, personalized e-mails (e.g. "I was searching your website for information and...", or "Please let me know if you would be interested in...") have a better chance. At least the sender put a little thought into it. The line then gets drawn by the level of personalization. I don't trust e-mails to "undisclosed recipients", picture e-mails, or anything labeled "Dear Friend".
  • Posted on Accepted
    For the last year, I've gotten sooo much scam emails promising I either won the lottery or someone died and made me rich that everything else seems okay. hehe

    Drawing the line between spam and non-spam is simple.

    Does the receive want to get the email you are sending them? If they opt-in for that type of email, they are explicitly saying they do want it. If they unsubscribe, then they are explicitly saying they don't want it.

    But if it comes to unsolicited, you have to make a judgment call... if they had the option to opt-in for this type of email, would they? Would they want to get the email you are sending?

    For example, one of my clients does a tradeshow here in Sacramento. A couple weeks before the tradeshow, he sends an email blast to almost every business in the city offering them a free to ticket and asking them to stop by if they are going to the show. He assumes that give the option, most people opt-in into that email. It's a marketing decision you have to make considering the relevant risks and opportunities.

    ~ mel

    PS: Visit my profile to get a free thought-of-the-day software and to learn more about me.

    Melvin Ram
    Volcanic Marketing
  • Posted by michael on Accepted

    For receiving e-mails it doesn't bother me if it's unsolicited. I just pitch I do for junk mail in the US mail.

    If someone wants to contact me unsolicited I'm open provided they have a good story to tell AND that they've done some research to know about me.

    Sexual content is where I draw the line for receiving mail.

    As far as sending mail, I have a story to tell and I can tell it in person or thru e-mail. I owe the potential recipient at least as much respect as I require. In other words, we do our homework and make the message relevant.

  • Posted by steven.alker on Accepted
    Dear Dave

    This is interesting because for me because it cuts three or four ways – what I receive and read personally and in business and what I send or advise people to send.

    Obviously, I am a recipient of unsolicited emails and I’ll take your hint not to rant about the endless and piss-poor attempts to lose weight, “As Scen on Oprah” for the last 500 or so which whistled down the drain.

    These unsolicited emails divide into two types and two email addresses; my personal address and my business address. Both have differing filtering arrangements and if a genuine personal or B2B email gets through these, I am interested enough to want to read it.

    The trouble here is, teaching the filters to do the right thing and ensuring that my friends and contacts are all included. It is very time consuming. Then someone I haven’t heard from for a few years drops me a line saying that they’ve lost weight and BAM, I’m searching for their communications in the waste bin! In fact I probably spend as long checking the filtered–out mail at the moment as filtering save me time and effort in receiving unwanted stuff in the first place, but it is getting better. Interestingly, Yahoo’s spam filters which are set by them, on my BT, ISP personal account have never been wrong. I scan 750 emails at the end of the week and there’s never been one which has been accidentally trashed.

    The other side is that we both send unsolicited emails ourselves and advise clients on how to run an email campaign from Maximizer software, so we have to tread carefully on what it is acceptable to do and what it is acceptable to advise our clients to do along with what will work and how to handle it.

    The paragraph about how I get the emails I want to get through my filters becomes the reverse when contacting prospects or when clients send out an unsolicited email. The task becomes not so much “What’s the right message or indicator to get someone to read an email?” to “How do I get my email through to the intended reader?” We have to look at getting them to read and respond as a secondary objective. As you have said, all the rules are changing.

    If I pause to reflect on the general debate so-far, a the opinions are very personal as you wanted and that’s good, but they imply a degree of understanding about the technology of email and the psychology of treating the reading of emails which will not be evident in the average recipient.

    For example, I know that to unsubscribe by sending “Unsubscribe” in an email only confirms that my address is valid as does providing any further detail via an unsubscribe link. That’s just a method for the unscrupulous sender to sell my details on as a “Confirmed Address” for a few cents. But how many recipients out there know that and a host of other technical issues. (I’ll take the legal ones as read and complied with)

    Here is a new point to consider. For the sender, the attitude to cost is rarely considered. With any campaign, we want the number of recipients who go “Oh, that’s interesting” to be high in comparison to those who either don’t read it and those who read and pass on. What really differentiates emails from mail or fax is that the sender apparently doesn’t have to pay, so the rejections and the trashed appear to be “Free”.

    Well they are not. Just as you have to pay for envelope stamps and paper, then pay for your time or someone else’s time to write something, pay for a brochure or an enclosure, you have to set up the campaign, which if the sender would bother to calculate it is rather expensive. OK, if it is sent out to thousands of recipients, the cost per recipient is small, but if we measure it on the basis of the cost per positive response, you might be looking at £100 per lead, which is in many cases, unacceptably high.

    By the way, there is an interesting article available by giving all your details to SilverPop on what makes people open and read emails. You can get a copy from Larry Chase’s web site on the page for his current newsletter:

    As you asked for personal opinions, here’s the way I used to use it for CRM. In the good old days (5 years ago!!), I just bought a list with SIC codes from Kompass ( and emailed every MD, Marketing Director and Sales Director with our CRM offerings. That 35% of them bounced didn’t bother me. The thing was that the response rates were high enough for me to say that the cost per lead was acceptable.

    Even with the Stone Age technology of Maximizer 2000, I could enter every contact onto the CRM system (Should be PRM or Prospect Relationship Management for this exercise) and then send them a text only, merged email which read like a letter:

    FAO: Mr J Smith
    Managing Director
    Smith’s Instrument
    Down House
    Horsham, RH12 4RT

    Dear Mr Smith

    Sales Forecasting

    Blah, Blah etc

    Because it looked like a letter, felt like a letter (if printed) and read like a letter to all intents and purposes it was a letter, so it killed two birds with one stone. Because it was personalised to whatever degree I could (I merged into the letter details of their business held in Maximizer which were drawn from fields in the original list) it was almost as though it had been written by me, to him. To cover the other bases raised, the content was vetted as thoroughly as we would vet the text for a brochure or a press release. Moreover, it was sent individually through Outlook to a single named recipient and from a business address, so the things actually got though (If the email address existed). Out of a list of about 2500 email address 1600 got through. Out of these we got 50 enquiries and closed 12 sales. That is an acceptable ratio and the email was self filtering – if the recipient didn’t understand my content, he was unlikely to buy in the near future and that was the purpose of the exercise. As for the bounce back’s, I always intended to do something about them, manually, but never got round to it. Now we can do it automatically.

    More about how we do, it or should do it now will follow later. I’m running up against the MarketingProfs word limit and as you know, I’m not the world’s most concise person! (Unless paid to be so)


    Steve Alker
    Unimax Solutions

  • Posted by steven.alker on Accepted
    Dear Dave (Again)

    There were a few points that I couldn’t squeeze into the last posting, so I’m doing a Deremiah!

    How we do it now is different on two fronts. The Technologies which send out the email letter and the way we slowly build email lists as well as using opportunistic purchases.

    Firstly, the technical bit. Let me stress that the old “Unformatted text only” email-merge method, sent out via Outlook still works. B2B recipients who admire sparse and concise content respond well, but people who are longer term prospects and frankly need to be “Turned On” or educated won’t have a clue why they have received the email “Letter”

    We now automate our email offerings tailoring them to Customers, Qualified prospects, Identified but Unqualified prospects and names from lists. Again, they are all in the CRM system in the first place, so merging and adding relevance from stored information is possible. By coding the contact records, we use Maximizer Marketing Campaign Manager to send out HTML merged emails which are much more attractive to look at and more appealing to those who need to be warmed up a bit. That way we have a list of what we sent and to whom. It also allows us to fill in (Manually or automatically) a “Do not solicit by email/fax/phone/letter” field which will inhibit further communications. That’s how our opt-out works and it is very effective.

    We can also track the opening, scanning and reading of emails automatically so that we can follow the success or lack of it through the campaign. Bounce backs can be intercepted by Workflow Automation otherwise known as KnowledgeSync which will delete unusable email addresses from a record and mark it for action “Find the correct email address” Unsubscribe requests are likewise automated (As long as they use the link) and any positive reply or enquiry via the website will automatically be entered onto Maximizer, an acknowledgement sent and the information passed onto a sales person for follow-up discussions. Eventually this will give us a statistical basis for what works for us and with whom!

    At the moment, my feel for what is acceptable and what works is essentially subjective, despite the hard statistics I was able to give you previously for a plain text, unformatted letters. Thus what I feel to be acceptable has to be split into Acceptable for me to read, acceptable for us to send and acceptable to a client’s shifting sands of their corporate values. (Ever seen a haughty mission statement that can withstand to fast flowing tide of a quick buck from a “Free” email list?)

    Your other correspondents have covered almost all the bases when it comes to content, relevance, ease of unsubscribing, more relevance, clear message, usefulness and the attractiveness of the heading. So it comes down to some of the points you made in your second posting. Things have changed and just as un-warmed cold calls don’t work for us (I know that you can make them work, but we can’t and hiring UK based telemarketers has even led to them scoring false hits due to their enthusiasm on the telephone and ability to get a YES to “Would you like someone from Unimax to call to discuss this----?”!) bulk-list marketing is both expensive per lead and expensive to source – that’s because we do bother to calculate the costs, including the opportunity cost of not doing something else more profitable.

    So I’ve asked everyone, but this is for me in particular, to start to identify the email address of the contact(s) we should be talking to, whilst we start to build a relationship with a customer. If we speak to them whilst doing this (10% of the phone calls) we try to get permission so send an introductory email. If they say write we write. We offer to call them back to see how they felt about it – they can decline this offer, but we do follow things through to see if there is an interest. For the rest, (90%) we get the key people’s names. I am adept at getting personal details like direct lines and mobile numbers and email addresses, but I am careful about it. If I the guy / gal receives an email from me, I want them to be aware that I’m sending it.

    We’re not selling at this stage, just outlining what we do. There is no proposition in the email, just areas which might interest them. For us in the CRM world the start of a sale is pressing the right buttons and until I’ve spoken to someone in some detail, I don’t know which of the 553 buttons we have on offer are the right ones, so selling in our emails is a no-no.

    In fact I’m taking some leaves out of Chris Cardell’s advice ( about web sites, which is don’t rely on the site to sell things, use it as a means of building a relationship and do that by offering something useful for free, in order to encourage readers to start the relationship. So the email sent might contain a useful offer such as a white paper or an hour of free on-site consultancy on their sales forecasting techniques.

    Only then does the selling start. This “harvesting by hand” must seem extraordinarily slow to those used to mailing 100,000 contacts a pop, but the numbers grow. 50 a week will become 1000 a year and if all of us do it, some more than others, that’s 4000 a year. Because we are then known and the email is expected, we will get a good response where 1000 of my contacts might generate the same response as 100,000 from a bought in list.

    Unless that is I tell the recipient that they can Max*mize their 1ncom_e using our low cost, low weight solutions, and re-christen myself “Justinian Thinkpad Concerned” or put Save ££££ in the title. And remember, whilst I’m building my email list. I’m having other useful conversations and ferreting into the company to get information and generate lateral or peer level interest.

    Getting clients to recognize their optimal route is a lot harder as they need to plot the cost versus the returns and that is a steep hill for most to climb. Just getting them to communicate in an appropriate manner with the different categories of Customer and Contact on their database is however appropriate. Getting the content right is a blessing and getting them to stop putting 5000 name in the “To:” box in Outlook is often the starting point.

    And you think that you have a long way to go to understand this!

    Good luck Dave and keep them coming


    Steve Alker
    Unimax Solutions
  • Posted by narthur on Accepted
    Whew, this has become one of the longest posts I've ever read on KHE and just like SPAM, value is in the beholder. The postings are great...SPAM, not so much.

    I have only an anecdote to reinforce the definition that 'SPAM is in the eye of that beholder. '

    A Senior Account Exec at my wife's B2B industrial ad agency refuses to have anyone edit or filter his email box or offers to set up a new address. He is terrified of 'missing' something important. So now he must DAILY sort through over 1,000 incoming msgs. Not an exaggeration...Monday's are not pretty.

    This from a guy who spends 10-20 days a month on the road.

    The IT people there have determined that he only gets 10-15 client business emails a day. You do the math on wasted time...some people just need control and want to feel wanted?!? He doesn't see SPAM in his mailbox.
  • Posted on Accepted

    I think everything that needs to be said has already been said, very informative to see from different perspectives.

    I get roughly about 50 e-mails a day of which about 90% are irrelevant. Personally, I only open e-mails by which I was the first one to initiate communication. For instance, I would instantly recognize an e-mail from a site that I have visited before and have given permission for them to send me e-mails.

    I did a research a couple of months ago on New Product Development (NPD) whereby I was required to contact NPD managers personally to get them to participate in my research. By personalizing the e-mails to their company wants, needs and also to the name of the person in charge I manage to get a return rate of 45% which is way higher than any spam provider. So I believe it is safe to assume that e-mails which people most probably would open and read is those which are meant for their eyes only. It shows that someone has indeed taken the initiative and effort in contacting them.

    I've been reading a book by Seth Godin which I think hits the bull's eye for this thread as it addresses this issue of spamming or what he calls Interruption Marketing. The books entitled Permission Marketing. Visit this site: to get a grasp of what he's addressing and you can get read the first four chapters of his book for free!

    Hope this helps ;)

  • Posted by Inbox_Interactive on Accepted
    In my humble opinion, it primarily comes down to relevance. Remember the joke from the offline world that "Direct mail is what you send. Junk mail is what you get..."

    If the email is relevant to the recipient, then the recipient is less likely to be irritated by the message.

    But relevance is not the only factor here. Quantity also weighs heavily, maybe even more so than relevance. After all, when you really get down to it, a single spam message in your inbox each day won't be a bother. It's the fact that you get 100+ of them each morning that irritates you.

    If you collected purple cows and received an unsolicited email from a purveyor of purple cows, you probably wouldn't care. You might even enjoy it. But if you got 500+ messages each day from 500+ purple cow vendors, you're going to be upset.

    I think the unsolicited message issue is more important in the B2C world than the B2B world because of the greater potential for recipients to receive massive quantities of redundant or highly similar email. Also, most individuals do not post their email addresses for everyone to see and use; they are somewhat guarded about them.

    This is different than in the B2B world where, by design, it is our intent to communicate and do business with other business people. We post our email addresses on our Web sites, and many of us would prefer to get an unsolicited email over an unsolicited (and interruptive) phone call. What would you rather get, 500 unsolicited emails or 50 phone calls? I'll take the emails any day.

    Moreover, in the B2B world, it's easier to know that what you're writing about in your email is going to be of interest to the recipient based on the recipient's industry, position, geography, etc. And if you're one of only a handful of people who offer what you offer, then you don't really run the risk of adding to the quantity problem, because there aren't 100+ people who offer what you do.

    I guess you could boil down my thoughts on this as follows: If your unsolicited message is relevant and will not add to the quantity issue, then it might be okay to send it. I don't think there are any hard and fast rules here (CAN SPAM does not make spam illegal), you just have to think about what you're sending, who is receiving it, and what your intentions are. Let your own moral compass be your guide.
  • Posted by telemoxie on Author
    Thank you to everyone who has participated. I'll be closing this question soon... I very much appreciate the time and thought folks have put into their responses, and I'd like to try to take the time to reflect on and summarize these responses, and to comment on some of the issues raised.

    If anyone is new to this question - I'd love to have your opinion.. it doesn't have to be a new or different idea - just your personal perspective on where you draw the line between acceptable and unacceptable unsolicited email.
  • Posted by cread on Accepted
    Dear telemoxie:

    I receive 300 unsolicited emails per day. I use a service to screen out anything that is not addressed to my exact email address. (Postini) This eliminates 90% and most of the real junk. There is very little junk left except link requests from people who have taken the time and trouble to get my name off my web site. These I just delete. Basically anyone who has taken the time and trouble to find my exact email and includes a well craft subject line that is of interest to my business life gets a very quick read. In my personal email if I don't know the sender it gets deleted without a second glance.

    We use to send bulk email. We might have even been called a spammer. But it didn't work well and became worthless for our business before can-spam was enacted. Now we work hard at crafting emails to individuals that have one way or another expressed interest in what we do.

    If spam would work in our business I would use it. It is no different to me than junk mail. I throw away a dozen pieces a day, unopened. I discard 270 emails a day unlooked at and unopened. As a sender I would use anything that is effective. I don't care what parties uninterested in my services think. I am interested in increasing my client base. If other people don't like what I do with email they can go pound sand!

    So as a sender I draw the line at what works for us, period.

    As a user, address it to ME, and make it relevant, and catch my interest. You have less than two seconds, good luck.

  • Posted by jpoyer on Accepted
    Dave -
    I'm glad you posted this question. It's great to hear what everyone has to say and interesting to see the opinions on both sides (sending/receiving).

    When I was the webmaster for a medium-sized university, in addition to the monumental task of maintaining the site, I was stuck with the task of sorting through all the e-mails that got by the SPAM filters. Even targeted e-mails that were "for the head librarian" or for "the director of the bookstore" went right to the trash, because I felt strongly if whoever didn't take the time to look up the information on the website for those people's contact information (readily available on the library pages or the bookstore pages in the university website – and man we worked hard to keep those 13,000 pages updated.) then that e-mail didn't deserve to be passed along. If someone did not care enough to take the time to actually look at the website of the organization they were so interested in serving, then what kind of service would that person provide?

    All those who noted in their responses that the e-mail should be targeted, personal, and relevant are right on. I will usually open/respond to e-mails that I feel are relevant to what my interests are, unless I’m just totally slammed and just need to clear my inbox so I can work.

    The point of being careful of "over mailing" once you have a qualified lead is also well received. If I feel choked with e-mails that I'm not ready for (when I specifically note that in the sign up form - "just signing up to get the whitepaper, not interested in your service at this time") or didn't expect when I signed up, then you have damaged your credibility as a useful source/site/product and you've lost me as a customer - most likely permanently. Not only me, but anyone that I might have recommended your service to: my family, my friends, my colleagues. When you talking about viral communication that could be a very costly mistake to make very often.

    Generally, except for the companies who inundate me with targeted e-mails, I am very open to reading communication according to my interests and online spending habits, and I’m responsive to those that appeal to me. Even if I’m on of a million who got the e-mail. I don’t really care if it’s personal.

    In fact, I find it quite irritating when e-mails attempt to be personal, when they are really not. Also, if there is any shady keywording, nonsense text or anything else that appears to be not above board in the preview, I delete it unopened. Now that I’m going back and proofing my response, I’m wondering if I’m a bit high maintenance in this regard, ahhh. My inbox, my prerogative, ay?

    Best regards and thanks for posting this question.

    XPRT Creative
  • Posted by telemoxie on Author
    Thanks very much to everyone who has participated.

    Personally, years ago, I had sent quite a bit of unsolicited email. When the sentiment turned very strongly against unsolicted emails, I stopped sending them... and my policy has been NOT to send them on behalf of clients.

    On the basis of comments above, I believe that targeted on-to-one emails which solve unique problems are which are relevant to the recipient are not only acceptable, but appreciated.

    This is quite helpful to me - this adds another tool to my arsenal. I'll draw from your specific comments and suggestions to craft an outbound email policy (and may ask for your opinion on that, down the road).

    Thanks again, and take care, Dave Krehbiel, aka TeleMoxie
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