Promoting Your Website
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5. Using Bulk Email
When first introduced to the benefits of bulk email, most marketing people
begin drooling uncontrollably and muttering "gimme, gimme, gimme."
And why shouldn't they?
After all, the wonders of the Net make it possible to deliver your message
to millions of email users at next to no cost and in a fraction the time
it would take just to print that many letters.
What's more, you can buy all the software and targeted mailing lists you
need for just a few hundred dollars.
Sounds great eh?
In fact, it almost sounds too good to be true -- and there's a very good
reason for that: It IS too good to be true.
Spam? What's Spam?
I'm sure you've noticed that your own email contains a growing number of
unsolicited offers for a wide range of products. Whether you want your
credit history repaired, need to make money working from home, or want
some part of your anatomy reduced/enlarged by a miracle wonder-cream,
someone will be emailing you to pitch their product.
These unsolicited, untargeted and unwanted emails are known as spam
and they're a real problem that's getting bigger every day.
Spam is defined as any unsolicited email sent out in bulk and usually
(but not always) promoting the sale of some product or service.
But You're No Spammer Right?
At this stage, most marketing people are busy thinking to themselves "we
wouldn't be spamming if we used bulk email -- because our products/services
are solid and reliable, as is our company."
BZZZT ... wrong answer!
It doesn't matter what the product or service is, or who's trying to sell
it -- if you send out unsolicited commercial email then you're a spammer.
If Mother Theresa herself had used email to send out blessings by bulk
unsolicited email -- she'd have been branded a spammer!
What Spamming Says About You
Let's assume for a moment that, despite the advice given here, you decide
to do a bulk emailing to promote your company or its products/services. What
message will you really be delivering?
So, if you're happy to be labeled a cheapskate, unethical, immoral fool then
maybe you won't care about sending spam.
- First of all you'll be telling the recipients of this email that you're a
spammer. They know that spammers and the companies they represent are
not nice, reliable or ethical people to do business with.
- Spammers regularly send pornographic emails to millions of addresses, many of
which belong to children as young as seven or eight years of age. You really
want to associate yourself with this type of practice?
- Spammers regularly sell products that are nothing but a scam. The medical
profession unanimously agrees that there are no creams that will enlarge your
breasts or make your male-member larger. Do you really want your products
associated with scams like this?
- Virtually all ISPs have very clear statements in their terms and conditions
of supply that prohibit customers from sending bulk unsolicited email. If you
go ahead and do it anyway then you're telling the recipients that you're either
too stupid to read the contracts you sign or that you're so unethical that
you're prepared to break a contract in the quest for commercial gain.
- By sending spam, you're telling prospective customers that the prospect of
earning their custom doesn't even warrant a stamp or a phone call.
However, if you decide to go ahead anyway, you may soon find yourself regretting
that decision for the following reasons:
Your ISP will almost certainly receive complaints from some of those who receive
your spam. They may well choose to invoke their right to terminate your
email, hosting or whatever other services are being provided.
So, when you look at bulk emailing stop and think for a moment before you
rush out and make a big mistake. Here are some basic caveats:
- Some of the more militant recipients of your spam will contact you
directly to voice their anger. Don't be surprised if you receive death
threats, find your servers hacked or even get yourself "blacklisted"
as a result.
- Having demonstrated your acceptance of spam as a marketing method, you
may well find that you also start receiving a lot more than you ever did
before -- and that becomes a along-term cost-burden.
So Email's Out Eh?
- Don't believe claims that any email list you buy is targeted -- it won't
be. Those selling these lists lie through their teeth in order to make a sale.
- Don't believe claims that a certain program will make it impossible for
your spam to be tracked back to your ISP. There is always a way to track
spam back to the sender -- otherwise how else could prospective clients
get in touch to place their orders?
- Don't believe claims that by putting an "opt-out" option at the bottom
of your spam it's suddenly legitimate and ethical -- it's not! Even pornographic
spam often has an "opt-out" facility -- that doesn't stop it from being spam.
No, you can use email as a very effective marketing tool -- but you must
only send email to those people who have explicitly given you permission
to do so.
Simply putting a form on your website that invites people to submit their
email address and then automatically subscribing them to your list is
not enough though.
What you really need is an extra step which confirms that the owner of
a submitted address really does wish to subscribe. This is usually
achieved by sending an email to all submitted addresses asking the recipient
to confirm by replying. How else will you know if the address
firstname.lastname@example.org really was submitted by John Smith and not by someone
who simply wants to annoy him by having his mailbox filled with spam?
The best way to market a product or service online is to make sure that you:
By following these simple suggestions you can maximise your use of the Net
while avoiding the stigma, costs and disgrace of being labeled a spammer.
- are offering the best possible value for money
- provide the very best levels of service and support
- have a good, easy to use, information-rich website
- promote that website in other media such as print/broadcast
- employ some ethical methods of getting a good search engine ranking
- consider an affiliate scheme such as that used by Amazon, et al
- set up a genuine confirmed-opt-in mailing list
- follow the other suggestions made on this website