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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast toddstep's Avatar
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    Ideas for promotion

    Alrighty,

    My wife and I own a Bed and Breakfast and have had for about 2 years now. I am a webmaster and Network Admin. by trade so I have been considering starting a website about innkeeping and the challenges it provides.

    I have the site almost ready - www.my-innkeeper.com - and am wondering how best to let other innkeepers out there know about it.

    I have purchased some software for less than $50 that will extract e-mail addresses off of any given website and have extracted 6000+ addresses off of different "Bed and Breakfast" Directories.

    I know many of you will kill me for even suggesting this, but I seriously think It is not a terrible idea of sending e-mail introducing our new website to them.

    Is it "spam," or is it not? I suppose technically, it is, but it is not like I am sending an e-mail to millions that I don;t know about how to increase the length of my ***** by 3-5 inches. I am sending relevant information to a TARGETED audience.

    I have spoken to a represenative at my ISP and he has informed me that as long as I put the disclaimer about "This is not spam according to section whatever and code whatever" and provide them a legitimate wat to opt out, then they will be fine with me sending the mail.

    So I guess my question is this: what would you do if you were me? I think I have a good product (once the site is finished) and I have a limited budget. If you do tell me this is a bad idea, I would apprecaite you giving me more than just a pat, "don't send spam" answer.
    Todd Stephens
    www.Todd-Stephens.com

  2. #2
    Freelance Web Designer KeithMcL's Avatar
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    Sending emails to 1000s of people who didn't ask for that mail is spam, simple as that.

    I think you would be better off searching for "InnKeeping" or something similar on the big search engines. Then go to the top 10 or so results. Get the email addresses off them sites and email the webmasters of those sites asking them if they would be interested in exchanging links to your site.

    Also, submit your site to the search engines. If you can get listed in Yahoo it will definately increase your sites traffic.

    You could add a "Recommend this site" script to your site to allow others to email their friends directly from your site recommending them to visit.

    You could also pay for advertising on another large site all about Inn Keeping or even advertise in an ezine/newsletter.

    These are just a few ideas. I'm sure others will post more.

    Rgds,

  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot Fruit & Veg's Avatar
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    I don't get it, sending a 1000 emails to innkeepers is spam but sending 10 emails to innkeepers is not.

    Your ISP is OK with it, I'd do it. People are too touchy nowadays. How many emails do innkeepers get about innkeeping? Not many I reckon, they'd be glad to receive your email as long as they are targetted!

    Get yourself on the search engines. Submit by hand. I think you need to do some keyword research and add a Meta Keyword tag, write a better description and title as well - they won't work miracles but will help. Get these keywords into the copy of your pages. Don't target too many words per page, maybe about 4 per page.

    Get yourself in the directories especially dmoz.org, Yahoo! and Looksmart - you will have to pay for the latter two but worth it. Also research into specialist directories around your area - travel, accomodation, hotels, regional directories - they won't get you masses of traffic but will get you targetted traffic.

    Link exchanging with related sites can help. You've got a couple of BBonline.com links on your homepage yet they haven't got any links to you on theres.

    I'm sure you'll get more ideas from the 'Promote' section of this site.
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict dpickup's Avatar
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    This is sort of a grey area I guess, but it does seem a little 'spam-ish' to me. But the issue of whether or not this is spam aside, I think you'd be better off investing your time in approaching sites on an individual basis. When I check my email, I immediately delete anything that looks or sounds like spam - and usually anything that begins with 'this is not spam' gets read no further than that before it is zapped.

    In my experience, taking the time to visit a site and personalizing an email to them is much more beneficial. You can certainly work off a standard email template, but try to make it clear that you've actually visited their site (and try to get the name of the proprietor if possible) - it will be much more likely to get their attention and respect. It may take longer than sending out a mass mail, but I think you'll get a much better ROI.

  5. #5
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    I sort of did what you mentioned...extracting email addresses from guestbooks of other sites, and then sending them the information about my site (which is a women's health community site - no e-commerce)

    The only 'down side' I had was that I got so much email from people thanking me for telling them about my site.

    I think of spam as useless unsolicited email. If what you are offering is of true value, and the person doesn't have to pay any money to reap the benefits, then go for it.

    If not...beware...

    One other thing...see if there are any newsgroups on your topic. Join the conversation with a 'hot' sig line that links back to your site.

    This same 'tactic' also works with yahoo groups. I get tons of traffic via mailing lists, but I only post relevant posts, I only mention my site in my sig line.

    Kat
    TheWeighWeWere.com - Weight Loss Success Stories from A to Z!

    oops, I did it again...re-relaunced July '07

  6. #6
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    personally, i wouldn't do it.
    when i make a post in a guestbook or a forum or something, i expect my email address to by used ONLY regarding my post.

    i've made almost 300 posts on the sitepoint forums. i wouldn't like it if another webmasters resource/forum site emailed me about their site or product.

    i suggest you pursue quality as opposed to quantity. and the way i suggest you do that is by exchanging links with similar sites, exhanging links with sites in the same industry, purchasing adverstising space on other sites, purchasing advertising in newsletter (on or offline), purchasing advertising in magazine, etc etc etc etc ...

    you have so many more effective options than sending blind emails. out of the 6000+ emails you send, how many people are you going to actually attract?
    sure it costs more to place an ad than to email, but you get what you pay for.
    . . . chris

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard
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    What you propose IS spam, toddstep, and will be treated as such. It's more than likely you will be added to one of the many spammer lists. These lists tell mail servers not to forward any of your mail. So, if you sent spam, you would not recieve ANY of your mail at all (most likely) because you abused the mail system.

    You would get MUCH better results if you chose 10 or 20 webmasters and contacted them personally.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    I have to agree with the "It is Spam" brigade. Actually, my thoughts on it are more "It would be construed as Spam". While the sentiment of what you are doing is sound, the major spamming that has been going on for years has made people automatically anti anything unsolicited.
    To use myself as an example, I teach martial arts and consequently make frequent posts on m.a. related forums. Recently I have begun recieving unsolicited e-mails from m.a. related groups I have never heard of - I suspect because they have employed the same tactics you plan.
    While I am ordinarily pleasantly surprised to discvover new stuff that relates to m.a. on the web, I find these things get sent straight to my trash - even though they might actually interest me - just because of the way they were delivered.

    I know many others who share the view - while I cannot speak for all web users, it would be unfortunate if your actually damaged your branding when there are so many other avenues open to you.

    H
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  9. #9
    SitePoint Evangelist mad-onion's Avatar
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    I agree it is spam, a mailout such as you propose could work for you though! It may be a total failure or it maybe a great success..

    Maybe if you type up a template mail (and personalise it for each recipient) and then find sites of people who you think may benefit from your site and mail them saying something like...

    "Hello Jim,
    While surfing the net yesterday i came accross your site...say something about their site! (i like the colour scheme or whatever, then they know you are actually taking an interest)
    I also run a B&B and have started a site....etc etc"

    Just a suggestion but it might work!
    And also make sure in the from field of the mailing it says your name or your sites name (not like spamer@server123) and also in the to field that it says their name or email address (that way they will feel it has been addressed to them and not every person who they can find), maybe send the mailing manually!
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  10. #10
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    It's not spam

    It's not spam, it's a targetted direct email.

    What will get you in trouble is blindly extracting. You might point it at innkeepers sites but you could end up getting all sorts of other people.. these people will then call it spam as it will not interest them.

    To get around this what you want is personal, direct 1 to 1 email: try http://www.2bpop.com - free tool to search and browse the web and then with a template message contact people you find..it is actually quite fast and you will not get into trouble.
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  11. #11
    Sports Publisher mjames's Avatar
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    Re: It's not spam

    Originally posted by miicchael
    It's not spam, it's a targetted direct email.
    If extracting unknowing e-mail addressese from a web site is NOT spam, I would like to know what is. You can say what you want, but that's spam in it's purest form. E-mail separate inn keepers personally and separately is fine, but I certaintly am against what you said you'd do. If I get an e-mail trying to sell me a bunch of sports goods, that's spam in my book - if I didn't request or opt-in to such a mailing and especially if my e-mail was taken off another site. It doesn't matter what genre the e-mails are - they're either spam or not spam.

  12. #12
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    huh??

    >E-mail separate inn keepers personally and separately is fine,
    >but I certaintly am against what you said you'd do. If I get
    >an e-mail trying to sell me a bunch of sports goods, that's
    >spam in my book

    So it's ok to email people personally and directly.. but it's not ok becuase it's got this funny name called spam? Do you want to be introduced to new things you are interested in or don't you? The internet is a communication medium for people to find and create new relationships .. if I start trying to flog an MLM scheme making you a millionaire in two days.. yes thats rubbish.

    But If I was say likeyourself and into sport and wanted to exchnage links with you, swap banners on sites, maybe point out some interesting stuff or invite/ask you to list your site on mine... how is this wrong?? All this fellow wants to do is invite other innkeepers to his innkeepers site.. to talk about innkeeping.. and most likely have these people list themselves.. guess what after a little while it will build up a community.. wow, is'nt that what the internet is about?

    This rubbish about spam has been brought to the frontline by nerds who have zero social ability and don;t want to be involved in the world... MLM, viagra and sex stuff I am not interested in is junk.. but when someone goes out to seek someone of a like mind that is human.. not junk..
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  13. #13
    SitePoint Evangelist mad-onion's Avatar
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    Sorry miicheal im with james here....
    targetted direct mail = politically correct name for unsolicited mail = SPAM!

    I think the line between spam and normal mail is whether it is being sent on mass!
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  14. #14
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    that's cool everyone is entitled to their opinion.

    I am not talking about harvesting addresses and sending a 100 or a thousand messages... I am talking about looking at a page..picking one email and sending a message direct, personally, 1 to 1 to that person.. not an automated computer driven process but me as a human being talking to another human being.. "hello"

    My opinion is spam is junk, I want to hear and talk to real people of like minds.. it is why I use the internet.. I am a human being. And to talk to human beings, I have not met before, that I think are of a like mind, unless they can read my mind I have to email them and introduce myself.

    It's all very human, sort of what people have been doing for thousands of years without computers.. So I guess we have all been spamming for thousands of years and there are all these very nasty horrible spamming people that are being human... or should we all become nerds and hide in a dark computer room and not talk to anyone and just converse with our computer and only interface with other people by interfacing first with the computer and then the computer can interface back with the other people.

    I'll stick to being a human being and if I see someone that is of a like mind I will contact them .. email or whatever and if they say hey I am not interested, I politely and respectfully accept, smile and wish them all the best - 9 times out of ten it is the reverse.

    So.. I say.. obviously we are not of like minds on this and I do sincerely wish you all the best.. :-) have a nice day.

    ciao
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  15. #15
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    miicchael, i think you are missing the point a little here.
    it doesn't matter that it's targetted email, it's still unsolicited.
    it doesn't matter that you're emailing one person at a time, you're still emailing alot of people.

    how would you like to come home one day and find 25 letters had been delivered to your house advertising whatever products, just because someone thought you might be interested?

    the only excuse you're using is "oh, i think this person might be interested, so i'll email them"

    if you want to be human and talk to other humans why would you do it by sending an email.
    just by this post alone, you have found that many people disagree with you and think that it would be spam. what makes you think that the people you email will be any different.

    i'm not trying to be a jerk here or discourage you. the point i'm trying to make is that there are better and more effective ways of making contact, drawing traffic, and making a sale or whatever than by sending out emails to people you just happen to think might be interested.
    . . . chris

  16. #16
    SitePoint Evangelist mad-onion's Avatar
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    Well said atomic!

    I think if you were say promoting a b&b site and you were staying at a b&b and one morning you were talking to the owner(s) it would be fine to say "hey i run a community site for b&b owners" or something....or in some other way contacting them in a personal manner and taking time with each one!
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  17. #17
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    fine.... don't contact anyone.. I am not asking you to do this. It's my choice to do so and if I am smart I will respect others as I meet them....

    Read my posts carefully.. don't speed read.. read them carefully.

    Say you want to exchange a link with someone or a web site you find ... how are you going to do this?

    Look forward to your answer....
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  18. #18
    SitePoint Enthusiast toddstep's Avatar
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    Good Grief...

    well good grief..... I kinda figured it would turn out this way, but I had no idea it would accelerate so rapidly.

    Let me add this to the frenzy of conversation.

    I also agree it is spam. Spam in the one of the purest forms. It is UNSOLICITED. That qualifies it, by definition, as spam. Now, with this said, I can also say that I still think it might be an ok idea and that I still might do it. "WHY??", you ask? Because, I think it will attract the target audience I am looking to attract. While it might be unsolicited, it is still VERY targeted. Remember I said I have been collecting addresses from B&B sites. Not just millions of addresses at random...

    Again, I'm not selling viagria, telling you how to increase the length of anything by 3-5 inches, or get out of debt. I'm asking people to join a community of people that have something in common with them. I'm not asking Catholics to convert to Hinduisim.

    Again, I agree that by definition what I am proposing to do is SPAM. But I feel like it also is in a gray area as to wheter it is as horrid as some of the other crap we all get....... So really I do feel like it fits the definition of spam, but it doesn't feel like spam. I can defiantely see a difference here. Can anyone else or am I too close to the situation?

    If I do this, I will use a real address, provide a REAL way to opt out and I will write an intelligent sounding letter describing to them what I would like them to become a part of.

    Change anyone's mind?
    Last edited by toddstep; Jul 4, 2001 at 21:04.
    Todd Stephens
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  19. #19
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    ok ... i honestly don't think anyone will be changing their minds soon. everyone seems to have a strong opinion.

    i think that the only way you might be able to change our minds is if you can come back to us with some stats that show that your email idea was effective.
    . . . chris

  20. #20
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    people can call it what you like..

    Todd you are doing nothing wrong.. if someone complains, respectfully take them off the list, be careful who you send to, to make sure it goes to your intended target.

    What irriates me is that all the others in this discussiopn simply calling it spam gets it caught up with the other rubbish out there.. It is Direct Email not spam. Spam came from the Monty Python sketch "Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam" spam for spams sake - viagra, mlm and fixing insecurities...

    Direct Email is where people like youself to to great lengths and effort to make contact with like minded people..

    If we do not start getting this kind of definition right we are going to strangle the internet and reduce it to a one way medium like the TV... only people with a lot of money to buy space in your eyes.. this would be very sad.

    Please to all the others in this discussion consider revising your definitions and approaches to this spam-direct email futile argument.. in your "goody goody approach" you are shooting yourself in the foot.

    The media companies did a good job on you, protecting themselves by making a powerful person to person medium for promotion of small businesses in like mind communities a social no-no..

    Todd, it's direct email, so long as you take it step by step, carefully targetting and approaching it as a human being you will be successfull and I wish you all the best with it.

    If you are looking for a tool to help: http://www.2bpop.com/
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  21. #21
    SitePoint Zealot Fruit & Veg's Avatar
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    OK, like toddstep pointed out initially, does anyone have any other ideas to promote his site. I'm bored with all this spam talk let's leave it to Todd to decide.

    Are there any other ways that his site could be effectively promoted?
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  22. #22
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    Traditional marketing methods perhaps?
    Direct mail to all Inn-Keepers (list available from the likes of http://www.marketscan.co.uk ) - consider POS advertising (stickers/posters/cardboard stands for their receptions). Reward schemes for using your promotion materials/membership (ie free banner rotation, Inn of the week etc).
    Take out adverisements in whatever your trade magazine happens to be. National tourism campaigns and leaflets are always looking for affiliate publishing deals.
    There are millions of options open before you resort to the crude (& potentially damaging) route of spam.

    H
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  23. #23
    SitePoint Addict dpickup's Avatar
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    My point and suggestion was not to get into a spam debate, I was suggesting a way to maximize your returns. For the record Spam is a generic, mass produced meat product, just as 'spam' emails are generic, mass produced emails. No one likes to read them, which is why I think you'd be better off approaching a few sites a day with targetted emails. And anything that begins with the declaration 'this is not spam' will most likely be construed as being just that. Furthermore, offering them a chance to opt-out of a list reinforces the fact that they are just one of many you approached. You don't want people to feel that way, you want them to feel special. You want to send the message that you care enough, and think your proposal is important enough, to spend the time approaching quality candidates personally.

    Sure it may take longer (even working off a standard template) to send personalized emails to various sites, but you're much more likely to create your community that way than with a single mass email. Good communities are built over time, not over night. As for it being 'unsolicited' - or course it is - that is what good businesses do, solicit business. So long as you're actually taking the time to visit the person's site, and genuinely believe that they have an interest in participating, then what's the problem?

    We need to communicate somehow, and if we just sit in front of our computers waiting for people to approach us, we would spend an awful lot of time staring at our monitors. But the best way to solicit attention is not with a mass mail, but with individually targetted emails.

  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy TheOriginalH's Avatar
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    oops

    Sorry, forgot your location - ignore the MarketScan link - I don't think they'll be much help

    H
    ~The Artist Latterly Known as Crazy Hamster~
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  25. #25
    SitePoint Zealot
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    I guess if your heart is set on it then you didn't need to ask us. Rather, just agree with those who agree with you!

    You want you ruin your image? Go ahead and do what you propose. All it takes is 4-5 people complaining and your site will die. You'll be put on the blacklist and ISP's everywhere will not accept any email from you at all. You will then need to work endless hours correcting your mistake.

    Here are some alternatives:
    1)Participate in sites where your targets hang out. You wont need to make 100 posts a day. Just be helpful. You could even let them know about your new articles or whatever.

    You want people to come to your site and make a contribution, why not make a contribution to them first? It's not that hard.

    2)Find some relevant but non-competeing sites and CALL them! Yes, call them. Introduce yourself and propose some sort of link swap or a joint venture of some kind. Do this with multiple sites and you'll get somewhere. Nobody will look badly at you for this.

    Going the spam route will only tarnish your image. There is a long line of people who tried to get started this way and have figured out it was a bad decision, by then it was too late. Their business reputation was ruined.

    Look, you're just getting started, it's not worth the risk of spoiling your markets image of you and thereby making everything you say in the future tarnished.

    I personally wouldn't do anything on purpose to tarnish my reputation in the eyes of even ONE of my market base. It's just too risky.

    But, do as you will.
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