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  1. #1
    We like music. weirdbeardmt's Avatar
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    Unsolicited Email

    Hey,

    What is the general "net standing/etiquette" on unsolicited approaches to companies. Here I mean specifically offers to overhaul their website for them.

    A while ago I approached an established design company, enquiring politely about a job, and they were rude and patronising about me back, saying they didn't accept unsolicited email. I have recently started a design company myself (mainly as a result!) but I am nervous about unsolicited contacts as a means of building the client database.

    Any thoughts on this?
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    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Unsolicited email is spam.

    However most companies do solicit suggestions and feedback and their website.
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  3. #3
    We like music. weirdbeardmt's Avatar
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    Well this is it -- I don't want to be accused of Spam.
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    ********* Addict jaiem's Avatar
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    Personally, I think what you did was fine. If you sent a personalized letter inquirying of them I don't see how they can say it was spam.

    But that's the sad irony of this whole thing: You can send someone a snail mail letter or post card, cold call them, put a flier in thier mail box or wind shield, hand out business cards and brochures to everyone on the street, etc etc. That's all fine. (yes, I know some places may have some restrictions on these.) But heaven for bid you send a first-contact email and [b]WHAM![/B} your dirt.

    Am I the only one who sees the hypocracy in this?
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  5. #5
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    to be honest, I think people way too many people are jumping on the "I hate spam" bandwagon..ok, so its not anything you asked for, but how hard is it to press the delete key when it comes into your inbox?! (thats completely irrelevant however)

    I wouldnt consider it spam if it was personally addressed, and had some customisation to my situation. Not a form email you sent to 10k people. as long as you do that, I would think you will be fine.

    hope that helped.

  6. #6
    We like music. weirdbeardmt's Avatar
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    The words "double" and "standard", or even "sucks" and "it", spring to mind.
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  7. #7
    We like music. weirdbeardmt's Avatar
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    Originally posted by steb


    I wouldnt consider it spam if it was personally addressed, and had some customisation to my situation. Not a form email you sent to 10k people. as long as you do that, I would think you will be fine.

    hope that helped.
    That is good advice -- and I would always find a somone to contact personally (with name and position etc), and of course personalise the email to fit their needs. Without doing this I find it difficult to find new clients, as I'm a little dubious about search engines.

    This is what i sent to "potential" -- is it spam?

    Dear Ms ******,

    Firstly may I apologise for the unsolicited nature of this email! As a subscriber to ****, and someone with an interest in furthering my *******, I followed the link from this months edition's pullout to your Experience website.

    My name is Matt Thornton, and I am the founder of a small, Southampton based web design company. We have extensive skills and knowledge in web design, but our portfolio is limited as we have only just formed (hence the need for the unsolicited email).

    The purpose of this email is to enquire whether or not you would be interested in an overhaul of your website. As I see it, the site is capable of an awful lot more, and in particular the automation of the site in order to ease the ability to update it quickly and easily. I have reviewed certain aspects of it and believe the nature of the site would be well suited to a database environment, for which it would be possible to use a content management system, which would present you (or your staff) with a web based page, allowing them to update the site, with out any knowledge of web programming.

    I will not continue with further details unless you are indeed interested. There are a couple of links at the bottom of this email which will provide you with a better idea, but please note the company website (www.thornworx.com) is only a temporary thing (and took about 20 minutes to design), so if you would like any further, more detailed information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Thank-you for your time,

    Yours sincerely,




    Matt Thornton
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    I would consider that a very good first contact email.If I received it, i definately wouldnt just hit the delete key and get rid of it.

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    SitePoint Wizard iTec's Avatar
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    if they call that spam... then slap them accross the head!
    as for the company that you sent regarding a job, they need to be slapped across the head and told to wake up.

    below is something i wrote in a forum ages ago.

    what spam was and what spam is are 2 different things

    spaming originaly was more associated with newsgroups people advertising in them was spam, like wise receiving an email from the same person everyday promoting there product was spam...
    Now spam is... any email you receive other then from your mothers uncles cousins pet gold fish.... its stupid.. if i get an email and i dont know who its from, its read last, if it says save 30% off it gets trashed... otherwise i read and act appropriatly... the world has gone stupid, and definatly needs some chlorene in the gene pool, i mean suing somebody becasue they sent you an email... whats a court going to do? make them come over to your house and delete it??? pay you $2,000,000 for the rsi it caused in your thumb and wrist as it moved them mouse to the message and clicked delete???

    spam in my dictionary is the equivelant of the "No junk mail... save the trees" stickers you see on mail boxes in the real world... only somebody forgot to tell the moron inside that email doesnt kill trees
    Last edited by iTec; Sep 28, 2001 at 08:10.

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    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Spam is unsolicited email. What the email is about doesn't matter, if its unsolicited it is spam.

    The difference between sending an unsolicited email and making an unsolicited phone call are that.

    1. Telemarketing Calls are regulated, the people have to identify themselves to you first, they can't trick you, and if you ask they HAVE to remove you from their list.

    2. Receiving a call doesn't cost you money.


    You do however pay for your email, you pay for the disk space to store your emails, you pay for the service. This is the same reason unsolicited faxes are illegal. If you send an unsolicited fax you're using someone elses ink to print your advertisement thus costing them money.

    If you do spam you run the risk of having your site shut down and being sued by the person you are spamming. Do so at your own risk.
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    ********* Addict jaiem's Avatar
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    Cost to receive email? It's all part of your ISP plan. You'd still have your ISP regardless of any email you receive. Disk space too. If you keep the emails aroudn, yea it takes up space but that's why you have a delete key! And who keeps ad emails anyway.

    If you want to say it costs to receive email, you can say the same for phone service. If I get a sales call it "costs" me because I have to have the phone service in the first place. It "costs" me time to have answered the phone. And who knows, I may trip and fall and break my leg on the way to the telephone to answer a cold call. And talk about snail mail, I can't tell you how many times a year my mail slot gets jammed or bent by the postman trying to cram in all the junk mail and offers I didn't ask for! Yet no one is suggested multi-$1,000 fines to catalog companies or driving them out of business.

    All I'm saying is that it's hypocratic to say email is any more "evil" than getting a dozen credit card offers in the mail a week or getting a phone call at dinner time. And the argument about cost doesn't wash either.
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  12. #12
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jaiem
    Cost to receive email? It's all part of your ISP plan. You'd still have your ISP regardless of any email you receive. Disk space too. If you keep the emails aroudn, yea it takes up space but that's why you have a delete key! And who keeps ad emails anyway.
    Why do you think AOL regularly sues spammers?

    If you want to think differently I can't stop you, but the fact is the law, the government, hosting companies, and ISPs, see things as I have said. And if you want to send unsolicited email you have to deal with the repercussions.
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    Originally posted by weirdbeardmt
    ...but please note the company website (www.thornworx.com) is only a temporary thing (and took about 20 minutes to design)
    I think it sounded good until that statement. I wouldn't take the inquiry seriously because of it. If you're going to be sending inquiries to companies you should really have a completed site, especially in considering the point you made about a limited portfolio. Anyone interesting will likely want to see what you can do and that you are serious about it, if you don't have your own site completed I would see that as a bad sign.
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  14. #14
    We like music. weirdbeardmt's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Seer


    I think it sounded good until that statement. I wouldn't take the inquiry seriously because of it. If you're going to be sending inquiries to companies you should really have a completed site, especially in considering the point you made about a limited portfolio. Anyone interesting will likely want to see what you can do and that you are serious about it, if you don't have your own site completed I would see that as a bad sign.
    yeh -- i had already thought that -- and regret having included it. oh well. I just won't put it in next time!
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    ********* Addict jaiem's Avatar
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    Aspen - I do not send such message. But I also don't see them as the greatest threat to humanity since the black plague either.

    Hey, I don't particularly like getting all those emails about applying for credit cards, mortgages, money schemes from Kenya, and can do without all the offers for Bitney Spears porn. And I do get unsolicited messages from other hosts (now that's funny!), merchant account providers, web designers etc etc. But I don't go balistic and call my lawyer either.

    Calm down, have a decaf-cappacino.
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  16. #16
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Who says I'm calling my lawyer, I'm just explaining the facts about spam.
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  17. #17
    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Originally posted by aspen
    Spam is unsolicited email. What the email is about doesn't matter, if its unsolicited it is spam.
    You've said this twice.

    Spam is a slang term. It has no legal meaning, nor has it a technical meaning. People's opinions about the exact usage of the term 'spam' will differ, and therefore, in my opinion, you can't use the terms 'spam' interchangeably with 'unsolicited email' or 'unwanted email'. Not all unsolicited email is spam, and not all spam is unwanted.

    The question asked not about 'spam', but about 'unsolicited email', which is a lot easier to define.

    Most websites have a preferred method of contact, and usually this is an email address such as 'webmaster@domain.com' that can be found on a page such as 'contact us'. This is the correct way of contacting a webmaster that you wish to do business with.

    Webmasters of well established sites will receive up to hundreds of emails, all of them unsolicited, every day. Some of these will be questions, from people wanting product information or help. Some will be business offers from companies or individuals with something very worthwhile to offer. Some may be unsolicited bulk mail.

    The webmaster has to sort through all of this mail, and respond only to those which are of benefit to him. Obviously, it is of benefit to him to provide excellent support to potential customers. It would also be beneficial to follow up on business offers that seem to be very suitable. Finally, all of the unsolicited bulk mail, which is a real nuisance, is identified and discarded.

    Aspen, under your definition of unsolicited mail, every request for help or support would be spam. Every business offer, both beneficial and boring, would also be spam. Therefore, it follows that with this particular definition of spam, spam is a crucial element in the operation and growth of every business for without it, the webmaster would never hear from potential clients or business partners.

    I propose that the term 'spam' be limited to unsolicited bulk email, and that the regular, day-to-day messages that a webmaster receives and acts upon are not spam, and are not a nuisance.

    To relate this back to what weirdbeard was saying, this form of individual contact, in my opinion, is a perfectly normal way of contacting a business for the first time, given that the message you send is addressed specifically to that particular business.
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    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Aspen, under your definition of unsolicited mail, every request for help or support would be spam. Every business offer, both beneficial and boring, would also be spam. Therefore, it follows that with this particular definition of spam, spam is a crucial element in the operation and growth of every business for without it, the webmaster would never hear from potential clients or business partners.

    I propose that the term 'spam' be limited to unsolicited bulk email, and that the regular, day-to-day messages that a webmaster receives and acts upon are not spam, and are not a nuisance.
    Spam is not bulk email. I once naively thought that only bulk email was spam, and I learned the hard way that it is not. Besides the person getting this mail doesn't know how many people you sent it to.

    My definition of spam is unsolicited email.

    But to make things clearer I'll just use unsolicited email.

    If you send unsolicited email, it doesn't matter if it's a really good idea, it doesn't matter if you send it to only 1 person, if you do send the following things can happen to you:

    1. Your host, if the email referenced a website, will shut down your website. Assuming the host has an anti-spam policy.

    2. Your ISP will cancel your account if the email was sent with that address.

    3. The person you sent the mail to or their ISP can bring a civil suit against you.

    That the facts.

    Therefore, it follows that with this particular definition of spam, spam is a crucial element in the operation and growth of every business for without it, the webmaster would never hear from potential clients or business partners.
    Do you know the definition of solicitation? If you put contact information on your site its a solicitation, if you put a form on your site for feedback its a solicitation, if you say "Write to us with any suggestions" its a solication. Thus any email written in response to these is not unsolicited. So if a webmaster is interested in anything you said then its very easy for them to solicit it, and the fact is that most people do.

    If you don't believe me, by all means experiment. Maybe try webmaster@aol.com

    Write to webmaster@aol.com, just 1 person. Tell them how great your site is and suggest to them that they add a link.

    Now thats an unsolicited email. If your host has a no spam policy and the webmaster feels like doing more than just deleting it you can expect your website to be taken down in a short while.

    It doesn't matter what you say, it doesn't matter if the person is interested, it doesn't matter how many people you send it to. Sending unsolicited email (aka Spam) can result in you losing your hosting, you isp, and your money in a civil lawsuit.
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    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    Originally posted by aspen
    If you put contact information on your site its a solicitation, if you put a form on your site for feedback its a solicitation, if you say "Write to us with any suggestions" its a solication. Thus any email written in response to these is not unsolicited. So if a webmaster is interested in anything you said then its very easy for them to solicit it, and the fact is that most people do.

    I see, and I agree. Thanks.

    If the site weirdbeard contacted listed their email address on a contact page, then this is indeed a solicitation for the purpose of 'general enquiries'. If this was true, weirdbeard's enquiry was quite acceptable. Would you agree?
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    ********* Addict jaiem's Avatar
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    Originally posted by aspen
    Sending unsolicited email (aka Spam) can result in you losing your hosting, you isp, and your money in a civil lawsuit.
    And that's just my point. You want that to be the punishment for sending an "unsolicited" email, fine. But be fair about it. If you believe it is reasonable and justifiable to put someone out of business for sending just 1 email, get them kicked out of thier rented store front (which is what a host is for an E-commerce business), and sue the pants of them then in fairness you must be able to do the exact same thing to every single non-online business that ever sends you a letter, postcard or brochure without you specifically asking for it. Or anyone who ever calls you on the phone trying to sell you something. Or knocks on your front door. Or comes into your office or store.

    That's what you are advocating.
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    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mmj



    I see, and I agree. Thanks.

    If the site weirdbeard contacted listed their email address on a contact page, then this is indeed a solicitation for the purpose of 'general enquiries'. If this was true, weirdbeard's enquiry was quite acceptable. Would you agree?
    Assuming that it was solicited, then yes.
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    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Originally posted by jaiem


    And that's just my point. You want that to be the punishment for sending an "unsolicited" email, fine. But be fair about it. If you believe it is reasonable and justifiable to put someone out of business for sending just 1 email, get them kicked out of thier rented store front (which is what a host is for an E-commerce business), and sue the pants of them then in fairness you must be able to do the exact same thing to every single non-online business that ever sends you a letter, postcard or brochure without you specifically asking for it. Or anyone who ever calls you on the phone trying to sell you something. Or knocks on your front door. Or comes into your office or store.

    That's what you are advocating.
    Again its not the same thing.

    Standard Mail costs money to send, you must print it and stuff the evelopes in addition to paying for postage.

    Unsolicited Bulk Email costs nothing to the person who sends it. It however costs the ISP by bogging down their servers, and this is why AOL can sue spammers and win.

    If we didn't fight spam as we do it would quickly make email useless. Considering how easy it is to send an email if there weren't consequences of sending spam then we'd each receive so much email a day that our mailboxes would overflow.

    If someone is going to send out 50,000 letters it's going to cost them around $20,000-$25,000 dollars. So the cost of it will stop it from getting out of control.

    Email has no cost, the only thing stopping it right now is anti-spam policies and lawsuits.
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    One website at a time mmj's Avatar
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    It is possible, then, that he [weirdbeard] was getting falsely accused of sending unsolicited mail.

    Being falsely accused of spamming is a real danger, and I know of innocent people who have had their accounts frozen for days on suspicion of spamming. Sometimes this is because they have unknowingly advertised with somebody who later spammed, and sometimes it is because somebody with their domain name happened to be within the body of an email.

    While I have no intention of ever spamming, how can people like me reduce the possibility of having my site suspended on suspicion of doing so, when I am falsely accused? I direct my question to everyone.
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    Originally posted by aspen
    Standard Mail costs money to send, you must print it and stuff the evelopes in addition to paying for postage.

    Unsolicited Bulk Email costs nothing to the person who sends it. It however costs the ISP by bogging down their servers, and this is why AOL can sue spammers and win.
    So your gripe is that it's free?

    The person sending the email has to compile or purchase a list of names so that's a cost. The person has to compose a message and time is money. And they need a mail server to send it from. Even if they use a free service like Hotmail or Yahoo they still need a PC and a net connection. Maybe not $20k but it isn't free.

    The argument over cost doesn't hold water. No law says advertising has to cost bundles. Every company from GE and Microsoft down to mom&pop deli is looking for the cheapest promotion/highest return method. Nothing says you need to spend a fortune on it.

    It's for reasons like your that I would hope some form of safeguard is added to whatever anti-spam laws are eventually passed. Seeing how almost hysterical you are over the idea of receiving an unrequested email I hope there's something to protect businesses against accusations and misunderstandings. But I think hysperia will win over reason. It looks better on paper.
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    ********* Addict jaiem's Avatar
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    MMJ - You're 110% correct. I've seen it happen too.

    I know a guy who used to send out an opt-in newsletter until someone complained to his host that he sent spam. The host didn't give a hoot about anything. No trial, no hearing, no otherside-of-the-story, just pulled the plug. For all he knew it could have been a competitor! (and don't think for one split second your competition wouldn't think of making false accusations against you to shut you down!!!!)

    That's why I say reason has to reign over emotion about this. You simply can't have a business shut down because someone says they wewre spammed or feels they were spammed.
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