Are You Email Marketing or Spamming?
Email marketing is a proven method of developing a relationship with your customers and, if that relationship is properly developed and nurtured, a way to generate affiliate cash flow when you need it. All that is well and good, but when your opt-out doesn’t result in being opted out, email marketing campaigns can result in driving business away.
One of the inboxes that I own began receiving email from Elizabeth Jackson. Since I used to know an Elizabeth Jackson, I was enthused to see her name. It was disappointing to find an advertisement for Work At Home jobs when I opened the email.
I used the option to unsubscribe, more than a dozen times during the past 3 months, and I continued to get email from Elizabeth Jackson from different email addresses. Each time, I opted out again. Further research today helped me deduce that Elizabeth Jackson is a fictitious name used to “protect the affiliates” who are promoting a certain CPA campaign offered by Clickbooth, to get income. Clickbooth advertises themselves as the “exclusive CPA Network” who is ranked #1 by Website Magazine.
Ok, that is all legal but my question today is, who is protecting me, or others who didn’t invite these CPA email offers?
SPAM and the Consumer
Prior to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, I was forced to close a business email account that was being overwhelmed by no less than 50+ messages an hour in a language I couldn’t even read! Things have gotten better, for sure, but it is possible to be in compliance of that act and still be doing nothing other than irritating customers or prospects. Case in Point: Elizabeth Jackson.
Here are some CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 cliff notes:
- It is an opt-out law and, for most purposes, permission of the e-mail recipient is not required. If a recipient wants to unsubscribe or opt-out, however, you’d better stop sending e-mails you are at risk of being subject to severe civil and criminal penalties.
- Fraudulent or deceptive subjects, headers, return addresses, etc., are prohibited.
- Sending sexually explicit email without clear markings is a criminal act.
- Email marketers must have a functional opt-out system that is easy for consumers to use and is operational for at least 30-days following each mailing.
- Email messages should include a physical address of the company in the email.
- Spammers AND those who procure their services are culpable and both can be prosecuted.
- Personal emails, and perhaps non-profit emails, are not addressed by the act. It applies to all US businesses who are sending commercial email of a transactional nature.
SPAM and the Business Owner
Looking over the guidelines again, a smile came to my face. I do feel that some of the earnings claims in subject lines from a few of the internet marketing lists that I’ve joined are nothing other than deceptive, in spite of their disclaimers. This is especially true when the click through leads to a product or service that was not developed by the sender. But I am a perpetual student of marketing methods and completely understand that this is how affiliate programs work.
Email marketing is a good business strategy, especially for affiliate marketers. At Flippa, sites with lists are worth more than other sites at the time of sale. Thus, whether your motivation in launching a site is to build a Niche Empire or develop a site to later sell for profit, building an email marketing list is very important!
An apparent loophole in the CAN-SPAM Act, which is always exploited by senders of unsolicited email, allows email marketers have up to 10-days to complete an unsubscribe request. Although those business owners are adhering to the letter of the law, I find it absurd. All the autoresponders that I have ever used or recommended facilitate immediate removal from a list.
Pick Up The Phone!
In my desperation to stop getting three more months of unsolicited email from Elizabeth Jackson, whom I now know is a fake person, I was prepared to send a snail mail letter but I dug deep enough to find a phone number to call. I did allude to the CAN-SPAM act during my call, which may have inspired them to be more attentive, but that remains to be seen. Regardless, it was comforting to actually speak with someone who listened to my concerns and gathered up the email addresses that I wanted to eradicate from their lists.
The phone seems to have gone out of fashion but the truth remains that consumers sometimes need a phone number to call. Business owners might conclude that including a phone number on your primary sales page footers or within the terms and conditions page at your site is a good idea for owners of affiliate programs. After all, the program owner is equally exposed to the fines and penalties outlined in the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, and they are legally obligated to manage the affiliates who are issuing email marketing messages on their behalf.