E-Mail Myths and Realities
Myth: The recipient knows the difference between permission-based e-mail and spam.
Reality: Mass e-mail list compilers rent their list and hide the relationship. When the consumer gets an e-mail with "Mike" or "Your order status" as the sender, they don't recognize them as a legitimate opt-in e-mail list owner. Even when the subject is legitimate there's no way the recipient links that e-mail to his registration on a Web site. As far as the consumer is concerned, it's spam.
Myth: You can profitably motivate the marketplace using chat groups.
Reality: Tightly knit groups, with refined areas of interest, continue to want to exchange specific information. These groups abhor and prohibit commercialization. Chat groups often have moderators who censor you if you try to pitch the group members.
Myth: Spam is illegal.
Reality: There are anti-spam laws in some states, but the overwhelming majority of states allow unsolicited e-mails as long as you follow some simple rules. These include: using a legitimate sender name and address; using a realistic subject line; and offering and honoring an opt-out. Some countries, including Canada, have no anti-spam legislation whatsoever.
Most ISPs have software to filter out spam, but that doesn't mean it's illegal. When an ISP receives enough complaints, they usually will shut you down. Illegal spammers use phony addresses in order not to be shut down, and by doing so are breaking the law.
Myth: Spam still works because it's cheap.
Reality: New software blocks spam, so those who want to block it, do so. E-mails that do get through are resented. No matter how cheap spam is, it's still not worth the effort.
A shady marketer working out of his garage can buy a list of 200 million e-mails and do a massive e-mail blast. But it doesn't work in the real world, because people complain to the ISP and shut them down. This isn't a free speech issue; your ISP contract specifically prohibits you from doing this. If you're a well-recognized brand, recipients will dislike, distrust and detest your company for sending unsolicited e-mails. You can do more harm with e-mails than any other media.