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  1. #1
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    Question what's considered spam? anyone have good non-spam examples?

    if you go to search engines and do a search, visit websites/directories/whatever and find email addresses (yes by hand, not using an email address snatcher or whatever they're called), and send an email to that email address.....i'll take it further and say that the email address you find isn't added to any mailing list, but is only kept on an internal list as someone who's been contacted so they're not contacted again unless they request their email be added to a mailing list.....is that considered spam?

    can anyone share non-spam ideas/examples that can be used for a new website project where we obviously don't want the new domain put on everyone's 'they spam' list?

  2. #2
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    My definition of spam?
    Anything that is sent to me, without my permission, that advertises a service or product (excluding things sent by friends).

    Trawling for email addresses manually is just as bad as using a spider in my eyes.

    You might try a word of mouth/referal process. Although this may be a bit slow. With referals you may try to get linked by similar or local websites.

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
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    Defining spam is a hard task I think. Though, I would consider your approach as spam. Only contact/give when the user wants to. You should find other ways for reaching the audience. Signatures, affiliates etc etc.
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  4. #4
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Spam is any unsolicited email.

    Spam is not defined by it's content, but by its solicitation. Laws against spam define it as such, hosts that have policies against spam define it as such. If your definition is different it is irrelevant.

    So what you should ask is "What is solicitation?"
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  5. #5
    Bananas contain Zinc fonzerelli_79's Avatar
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    aspen and TheBlueBoy pretty much summed it up for me

    any email i didnt ask for - probably part of a mass mailing

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard ChrisRoss's Avatar
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    Not just a email -

    Spam is any unsolicited digital contact is how I see it. I won't go as far as saying telemarketing is Spaming, but its pretty close.
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  7. #7
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    thanks for all the replies.....i guess my view is a little bit off of everyone elses. when i get email that is something i might be interested in, it may be spam by definition, but if it's something related to my site/interests, i don't mind. on the other hand, i get tons of spam for viagra, how to enlarge a body part i don't have, HGH, rogaine, casinos, get out of debt/credit repair, mortgages, chain letters and the latest get-rich-quick deals, new 'programs' you can join, cable descramblers, dvd software, and of course every kind of porn most people don't even want to know exists. THAT is spam to me. but there seems to be little one can do to get off those lists once you're on them - complaining seems to bring even more of the same to my inbox, and even the ones that look like a legit site with an unsubscribe deal never seem to take my email off their lists. so using the delete key is all i can do.

    on the other hand, if someone visits one of my sites and fills out the contact form or emails me an offer for something that's related to that site, i wouldn't consider that spam. and hey, i just had a visitor to my site. if i'm not interested in their offer, i can reply saying thanks for visiting my site, no thanks on the offer, and include info about my other sites they may want to check out.

    the problem with word of mouth/referrals is you need one to get one. so how do you get that first one so they can refer others? even using affiliates how are they supposed to get people to refer others let alone get those people to the site themselves?

    the other nite i did a search for non-spam email marketing/lists stuff and bookmarked quite a few sites - is this a good/better way to go? does anyone have any experiences they can share with any of these??
    411marketing.net
    5star-email-marketing.com
    advertising.com
    ezineadauction.comtargetx.com
    infonownet.com
    lvisp.com
    mailbits.com
    opt-influence.com
    postmasterdirect.com
    promotion.nextnethosting.net
    postmasterdirect.com
    sendmoreinfo.com

    or is a USPS mailing a better way to start?

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    Personally,

    I've done a lot of mass mailing (something many people here don't know). During the few months I was doing it, I probably sent out over 150,000,000 emails.

    I still do mass mailing, though on a much smaller scale, probably 500,000 per month.

    The first period of my mass mailing was half-spam, according to my definition. People had signed up to receive "mail" from me, so I sent them mail. They only ever received 1 "unauthorized" email on a given subject, which was a "would you like to be part of this list, no action is required, this is the last you'll hear from us" kind of email.

    Yes, that is still spam. But, I wish every spam campaign was done that way, ya know? If it was, I wouldn't be signed up to thousands of newsletters I've never heard of, who have unsub mechanisms which are broken.

    To be "non-spam", you really need to get an individual's permission first. Yes, it could be of value, but you still need their nod.
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  9. #9
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    hey jeremy - that's exactly what this would be. and it wouldn't be like sending emails about viagra to nuns. it would only be sent to exactly who would use the service provided by this new website. and the first email would be an offer they would be hard pressed to pass up but the offer is only good for the first 100 who sign up for the service. if they want to be notified of how many people have signed up (so they can put it off and decide later without losing out on the offer), they need to go to the site and enter their email address to be added to the 'keep me updated' mailing list. otherwise, their email will remain in an excel 'who we've contacted' file and never used again. if they add their email to the update list, their email will be removed from the who we've contacted list.

    i'm like you, it makes a HUGE difference in how it's done to start with - when you're put on the list and have to take yourself off even though you didn't ask to be put on the list and you've never even heard of the site in the first place is a completely different thing.

    my question is how do you get the 'nod' without emailing them something in the first place????

    does everyone consider filling out a 'contact me' form spam too if it includes some kind of offer with a link to a site?

    as i'm writing this i just got an email for a free meineke oil change - that's a new one!

  10. #10
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    and how do you email someone that you've got an offer they won't want to pass up and manage to get them to follow the link to find out what the offer is? if i got that in an email, i'd hit delete before i was done reading the email. the difference is, this IS a rare offer - everyone's been telling me i'm nuts to do it.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    Basically, I have 2 perspectives:

    The User
    Invade my mailbox, and I generally hate you. The only times I've gotten spam and not hated people is when they have said "I will not bother you again, just letting you know about this, no action on your part is required". I delete the email, and then I forget about it.

    The Marketer
    I'll be honest, if I'd continued doing what I was doing just a few short months ago, I could have paid my rent. I labelled myself, really for my own self-conscience, a "responsible spammer".

    Really, how these 2 merge, I don't know. Now I only send email to people who have expressly asked for it. Would I go back to being a "responsible spammer". Maybe. I have rules, but really at the end of the day I am still contributing to the flood of emails people receive. That and I coded the app to not get blocked by spam blockers. People don't want spam, who am I to invade?
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
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  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    Originally posted by amix
    and how do you email someone that you've got an offer they won't want to pass up and manage to get them to follow the link to find out what the offer is? if i got that in an email, i'd hit delete before i was done reading the email. the difference is, this IS a rare offer - everyone's been telling me i'm nuts to do it.
    Let me share with you what I found, and the rules I went by. I could get slammed for this, but that's okay. 1 in 10 people will click on a good offer. 1 in 10 will click on a great offer. 1 in 10 will click on an impossible to pass up offer. 1 in 10 will click on a crap offer.

    That's just the reality, and it's why email marketing works. Just about no matter what you do, 1 in 10 people will click. Where it gets fuzzy is how many people buy from spam, but that's a whole other story. The reality is that there IS a love/hate relationship with spam. Everyone hates it, but everyone clicks on stuff "from time to time", just out of curiosity.

    My rules for "responsible spamming":

    1. Never hide. Take responsibility for what you do. This means the from address was an actual mailbox I checked, and I used no routing or "random server address generation" or anything.
    2. Listen to your emails. You'll get a lot of literal bouncebacks (emails not found). In fact, a 20% bounceback ratio on a single send is amazing, very good. The once that aren't bounce's, act on them. People want to be removed, remove them. They want more info, give it to them.
    3. Only send Introductory Offers. This means that you don't subscribe people to lists. You send them an offer to subscribe to a list, which requires manual action on their part to stay on the list (entering their email, clicking a button, etc).
    4. They choose to stay on the list. You don't say "please do [x] to unsubscribe".
    5. Only send offers which are "wholesome". No porn. No ***** enlargement. No casinos. Etc.
    6. Don't send an individual an Introductory Offer more than once a month.

    There were others, but the reality is that I sent out at least 150,000,000 emails. I had 50,000,000 valid email addresses I owned. I normally sent out lists in batches of 500,000. It was actually rare that I got an angry email back.

    Spam is spam. I stand by that, and I still feel that all spam is bad. If, though, you choose to make it your business, the above rules do put you in a class above the trash spammers we all have frequenting our box who make up 99% of the spam in the world.

    If every spammer was a Responsible Spammer, you would at most, in your lifetime, receive 10,000 unwanted emails (all Introductory Offers). I could live with 10,000. That's only like 5/week.
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
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  13. #13
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    jeremy - thanks for the do's and dont's list. i agree with everything on your list but i don't know what we'll do. what i'm getting from most of the responses here is any email we might send is spam. and the last thing we want is for the site to be blacklisted from the beginning.

    it's pretty much making it sound like we'll have to put up the site, submit it to search engines/directories, maybe try advertising in newsletters or some other form of advertising, and other than that we'll just have to sit back and hope for visitors. unless we make the offer AND add a weekly drawing that we can submit to contest type sites and offer the winner of the drawing the same offer.... but a drawing wouldn't be targeting the specific people/companies we'd be emailing by doing searches and sending emails to addresses we find on sites.

    would the same spam definition apply to email addresses found anywhere? say they advertise in the paper and include their email address? isn't that more or less asking people to send emails? (of course, i think having an email address on a website is asking for it too, but apparently i'm not in the mainstream of thinking on that one.)

    not a very promising outlook, i must say.

    on a completely different topic - i just started reading the 'war on the usa' thread and your pink koolaid post still has me laughing. my dog thinks i've comPLETEly lost my mind now.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    Pink Koolaid rules the world. NOT Coca-Cola
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  15. #15
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    my guess is if it relaxes and lowers sperm count it probably also makes us females horny. just another one of god's little jokes.

    i'm always amazed that we can get along with the people we don't necessarily like that we work with, live next to, deal with at the local grocery store (well, except for the idiot who takes 'my' parking space!) and yet we can't seem to just keep extending that out in a circle around us. i know, there are bin laden types around to keep that from happening universally, but nothing seems to bring people in a community together faster than a horrible disaster.

    as for the us/americans bashing - it's hard to listen to the point of view of those who live in a place where their government tells them what's what even when it's not what's true. those of us that don't live in countries like that at least have access to enough news channels to allow us to use our noggins to recognize and weed out the spin.

    oh well, i've probably wasted enough time for today. i better get something done.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard ChrisRoss's Avatar
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    Everyone has there own opinion on this subject but I think Jeremy gave some pretty solid rules for sending email. Personally I have a pet peeve with SPAM, I will go out of my way to track down a spammer if I get a repeat offender.

    Filling out a form is a different story. If someone took the time to look at my site and fill out my form (not copy and paste..... you can tell the difference) I will give them the time back and read their email.

    The only other rule I would add to that list is to not send email everyday. If you have a list, the worst thing you can do is send stuff everyday. The best thing you can do is send "info" with content. Not just solo emails.
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  17. #17
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    as i said, people would be contacted only once and their email placed on the internal 'contacted' list. the whole purpose of keeping that list is so people aren't emailed more than once.

    for the 'keep me updated' list, how often we send them emails will depend on how quickly the first 100 signups happen. if 50 people signup in two days and a person has asked to be updated on the number of people who signup, i assume they'll want to know 50 signed up that quickly. again, so they don't lose out on the offer.

    we're trying to think of what we could include in a newsletter for after the promo is done - but don't want to send a newsletter just to be sending a newsletter out. whatever we come up with i don't see us sending that out more than once a month if that. i personally feel a bit overloaded with the newsletters i get and find that if i don't take the time to look at them right away, they never get looked at.

    inweekly - regarding the spammers you go out of your way to track down - even if it's something that's definitely, no-questions-asked targeted to you based on what you do for a living??

    if filling out contact forms is ok, how is that different from sending an email to an email address listed on a website?

  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard ChrisRoss's Avatar
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    "inweekly - regarding the spammers you go out of your way to track down - even if it's something that's definitely, no-questions-asked targeted to you based on what you do for a living??"

    Still I didn't ask for it and my email address isn't listed anywhere. So they got my email address from one of two ways... They bought it from someone (which means whoever they bought it from is going to sell it again and again) or they added me to a list without my permission. Both are major problems with me.

    "if filling out contact forms is ok, how is that different from sending an email to an email address listed on a website?"

    Like I said before - If they took the time to look at my site and fill out the form. The least I can do is read what they wrote.

    What your doing is fine.... I don't see that as spam if you follow some of the above rules.
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  19. #19
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    not to beat this into the ground, but i wanna make sure we don't start off on the wrong foot.

    if we do searches and go to web sites and
    (a) find an email address that we send a short, one-time offer to or
    (b) fill out a contact form with as short a message as we can
    or we find email addresses advertised elsewhere (whether flyers, magazines, newspapers or newsletters) and send them an email......

    meanwhile keeping the email address (or url of the contact form) on an internal 'contacted' list so they are only contacted once, and keeping the message text only and as short as possible..... this is ok?

  20. #20
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    My original comments still stand.
    Spam is still spam, whether it is sent once or 100 times.

    However, Jeremy W. does make some interesting points (about emails, not Koolaid!)
    His 6 rules of "responsible emailing" should really be followed by everyone. It would make for a much happier BlueBoy at least.

    It sounds like you do want to go through with this, so my advice is to be very careful with the details you collect. Also, make sure you follow through with any request made by the mailee about their information.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    My newsletter is single opt in and some people likes to put in other email addresses just for the fun or maybe sabotage. Do you consider me spamming?

    Note that every person who claims that he did not subscribe and got my newsletter would be handled in an appropriate manner and since I have the ip of the person who signed up, I could give it to the angry mailbox owner.

    I am wondering if this is fine or too late?

  22. #22
    SitePoint Zealot anam's Avatar
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    FreebieGuy, you really should set up a double opt-in system to avoid people placing unwilling others on your list.

    Jeremy said: "Everyone hates it, but everyone clicks on stuff "from time to time", just out of curiosity."

    Not true Even if I inadvertently open a spam email -- which is rare as I usually delete anything off the server I suspect is spam, without ever even bringing it down to my box -- I never, ever click a thing in it. Not ever. I don't care if it's something I'd even be really interested in. It's spam and they will never ever get my time/money simply for the fact that they spammed me. And all the newbie online people I've set up over the years are trained by me from the start how to handle spam, and step one is deleting it off the server, depending on their email client. Barring that, it's delete without ever opening it.

    Now there is another side to this. I handle the email for a company who aren't too PC proficient. I check all the email daily and forward them the legitimate ones. A lot of spam comes to that box, and sometimes I must download and open it if I am not sure it may be a legit mail. I sometimes get those "this is a one-off, we won't bother you again" emails as mentioned previously. I don't think they should bother me in the first place, but as long as they keep their word, then that's fine, and I just forget about it.

    If that box seems to be getting spam from the same sources a lot, I will download and open it, then trace and file complaints. If I'm PMSing then I will really go to town to get their butt booted off their host

    Spam pisses me off to no end. It wastes my time and uses my host resources without my permission. If I want a product or service, I'll go look for it myself. If I want a deal, there's tons of sites I can go to to look for deals. I hate spammers the same way I hate telemarketers. Worse even, because they hide behind fake info and are often hideously deceitful. I await the day when real legislation with teeth in it is implemented and enforced. If we MUST have spam, at least make the spammers have legitimate reply addresses, other contact info, and a working opt-out system. If we can't have that, we should be able to track 'em down and throw 'em in jail for harrassment Telemarketers can't get away with it, why should spammers??

  23. #23
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    I am now looking for a solution to make my newslettetr double opt-in.

    Anyway, do you consider contacting webmasters for link exchange as spam, even though sometimes you email those really big sites, who apparently would not link to you.


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