Spam in B-to-B
As the lines between business and consumer transactions continue to blur, B-to-B marketers need to start thinking about spam legislation. Going forward, "there will be little differentiation between how we market to consumers and businesses, here and abroad, and between channels," says Matt Leonard, customer information and EDGE policy and privacy, IBM.
Leonard spells out how he sees the B-to-B e-mail and online marketing environment changing, and offers some practices companies should engage in now.
When thinking about your customers, says Leonard, remember that:
They may be more technically savvy than you.
There will be hell to pay for boilerplate trickery on the Web or in contracts.
They award you no points when you sneak past spam filters.
Leonard gives examples of ways marketers can avoid sabotaging themselves. First, don't try to disguise your unsolicited e-mails to look like something the customer has asked for. "That only makes [customers] write a filter to block all your [messages]."
Also, take the time to target and make relevant offers. When you don't, "it only serves to confirm to your recipients that, at best, you are an idiot and, at worst, you are a spammer," he explains.
Another tip Leonard offers is to "live in the environment your customers live in." To wit:
If you send unsolicited commercial e-mail, consider asking your company not to use spam filters on its own e-mail.
If you make outbound telemarketing calls, consider keeping your own number off the do-not-call list.
Foremost, Leonard says, "never argue with your customers. If they don't want your e-mail (even if they call it spam), don't send it to them! Even if you think you had permission, all you have is a field in a record. Even if you have a signature, that will only help you in court … but telling your customer you're right and they're wrong hurts you right now!"
Matt Leonard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.