E-mail marketing’s prolific evil twin is known as spam. According to a 2009 McAfee Threats Report, spam accounts for 92 percent of all e-mails. That’s about 183 million e-mails per day. Why, with all the spam filters and blacklists out there, does spam still exist? According to a spam study by the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Diego, spam generally gets one response per 12,500,000 e-mails, a response rate of just 0.00001 percent. A recent report has upped the number to 95 percent of e-mail as spam. Check out: www.net-security.org/secworld.php?id=8755.
The reason spam still exists as an unethical online marketing practice is because even a minuscule response rate can be hugely profitable. If unethical (otherwise known as “black hat”) spammers can make a profit with such a microscopic success rate, imagine what an ethical, strategic, and scalable e-mail marketing program can do for your organization!
The main goal with e-mail marketing is to use it to serve, support, and sell as effectively as possible, without getting hit with a spam hammer by your users. Being branded as spam is more than an inconvenience. It could be a death blow to all of your web marketing. Once you’re blacklisted, major web marketing efforts vanish with the flip of a switch. Most e-mail, hosting, and Internet providers have an anti-spam clause in their contract that states if a company is even accused of being a spammer, that is a violation of the terms of service and their account will be terminated immediately, stopping the ability to send marketing messages. Suspected spammers are found guilty before they even know what the charges are. It can take months or even years to restore a good e-mail marketing reputation.
The best way to avoid this fate is to use e-mail marketing best practices right from the start. People fear what they do not understand, and the biggest fear with spam is fear itself. It’s easy to be compliant as long as you know the rules of the e-mail marketing game. The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 is a law in the United States that was created to help clarify the multiple uses of e-mail communication and regulate the use of commercial e-mails to protect recipients. CAN-SPAM is an acronym: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing. As online marketers, fun or not, you must learn, love, and live CAN-SPAM compliance.
CAN-SPAM had a clear purpose: to address the use of commercial messages, anything that was deemed promotional. Transactional e-mails (like a product recall announcement, a sales confi rmation e-mail receipt, changes to an online privacy, etc.) are a separate type of e-mail and do not apply to the “spam” label. Dual-purpose messages that have both transactional and commercial content can be flagged for spam. To help marketers stay compliant, the Federal Trade Commission has set up a website that provides guidelines for how businesses must comply with CAN-SPAM.