BrowserSites.com has a policy against doing any business which uses "spamming" as a marketing technique -- that is, any business, political campaign, or non-profit orginization that knowingly sends out or authorizes "mass e-mails" to large amounts of people unsolicited, unless those recipients have a personal relationship with the sender or have given previous "opt in" permission to receive messages from organizations or individuals related to the product, service, or message being communicated.
Now, you might ask, why? You need to get your message, service, or information about your product communicated to as many people as possible -- why not spam?
It's a good question, and here is why you shouldn't:
1. Much spamming is illegal for businesses. Under the federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, a company cannot use harvested email addresses, must use relevant subject lines, and a legitimate physical address of the sender is provided. Though these provisions do not apply to political campaigns or religious organizations, BrowserSites.com does as do most other legitimate e-mail marketers.
2. Legitimate e-mail marketers prohibit spamming. Most e-mail marketers, such as GoDaddy, Constant Contact, and Rate Point prohibit sending mass emails to people unless they have given permission to receive emails from you. All of these providers are affordable, so if you are having to go outside them to send your emails, that is a sure sign what you're doing is not a good idea.
3. It's unethical. Sending mass e-mails to people who haven't given you permission or without any previous known association or interest in your product, business, service, organization or campaign is unethical, even if it is not explicitly illegal. You are invading that person's personal e-mail account without their permission or any other association.
4. It's stupid. Making dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people mad is not worth the benefit of spamming. Do you really want your business, your organization or your campaign harmed by getting the reputation as a spammer? There are dozens of spam-watchers on the internet who will not resist the opportunity to "ding" you if you are spamming them.
5. It's annoying. Many "spammed" e-mail addresses are not "personal" e-mail addresses, but those owned by businesses -- i.e., places where people work. Sending mass e-mails to those e-mails unsolicited and without any previous known connection with what you're offering is annoying and causes those businesses to spend needless time and energy trying to prevent spam. Not only do you stand the likelihood of your email going to a spam-folder, you will likely have your email blocked and your future e-mails from being read. Also, once someone receives a spam message from you -- chances are they will "blacklist" you in their own mind as well -- meaning you will have permanently established a negative relationship with them, when a positive one could have been obtained via other means.
6. Spamming is lazy and is not productive. Mass e-mailing people who want nothing to do with you or have given no previous indication about wanting to hear what you have to say is inherently lazy -- you are better off working hard to obtain email addresses from people who want to hear about what you are saying. Plus, spamming is unlikely to generate the business or response you're looking for in sufficient quantities to make up for the loss of reputation!
7. Good products don't need to spam. If your service, product, message or campaign is as good as you think it is, you don't need to spam. Spamming is essentially "forcing" people to get e-mails from you when they really don't want to. If "what you're selling" is good, they WILL want to and will sign up to receive emails from you.
8. It's going to hurt your reputation. Do you really want to be associated with the hundreds of emails that fill your spam folders every day? Spamming is even more unpopular than telemarketing these days -- primarily because it often requires shady means to do.
When one is calling, it is through legitimately obtained lists -- such as a voter database or other kinds of lead lists. People already think that is annoying, and most "spamming" is done through illegitimate means -- it is done through mass emailing harvested emails or using email lists that have never indicated any interest in receiving emails from the sender or the subject matter of the e-mail. By mass emailing those people unsolicited, you are going to hurt reputation -- not just with those you want to receive your message, but legitimate businesses that use best practices when doing e-mail marketing.
9. You don't need to spam to market your message! If you want to obtain someone's e-mail, obtain it legitimately -- through advertising on the radio, television, newspaper, direct mail, internet, or Facebook -- or just through plain old word of mouth. Those methods will help you obtain e-mails from people who actually are interested in your product, service, message, or campaign -- without permanently driving people away via spam! It means nothing to get one client if you permanently drive them away becuase they don't like receiving your spammy e-mail.
10. The Golden Rule. Do not do to others what you would not like to be done to you. You know spam is annoying, so don't do it! Obtain your clients/customers/voters/patrons through legitimate means, not through spamming them.
How to Obtain Emails & Market to People Directly
So you know it's not a good idea to spam. But now you're asking, "how do I get my message out?" There are several ways:
1. ADVERTISE! This is the best way and it still works. Television, radio, the internet (targeted websites), Facebook, print, and direct mail are all legitimate ways to advertise what you are selling and drive people to your website to sign up for email. If your message is good, they will do so. Yes, this costs money, but it works when tried -- and is legitimate.
2. WORD OF MOUTH Spamming is not wise -- i.e., the mass e-mailing of people who want nothing to do with your product. However, encouraging those on your e-mail list to forward your note to their own like-minded personal friends is perfectly legitimate. So, if BrowserSites.com sends an email to a customer, that customer can forward that email to his friend who might need a website. That's the old fashioned word-of-mouth, and it works!
3. LEGITIMATELY OBTAINED OPT-IN LEAD LISTS Obtaining opt-in lead lists -- of people who have expressed direct interest in your message and/or have given direct permission to receive emails from others, is legitimate. For example, if you're a political campaign, you might have another political campaign provide you an email address list. This is NOT SPAM, as long as you indicate in your initial email where you obtained their email so they can immediately opt-out.
Note: Though this isn't spam, you still have to be careful -- you'd be more wise to have your "friend" email his/her list on your behalf and advise them to sign up with you. That way you're not, again, needlessly e-mailing a bunch of people who don't want to hear from you.
4. SOCIAL NETWORKING. In some ways, email is becoming obsolete in advertising anyway. This is partially due to the prevelance of spammers and the increased likelihood people will just "delete" you, but also due to the incredible rise in social networking like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other forms of "grassroots marketing". Through befreinding/advertising/connecting through these mediums, you are marketing your message in a way that is not intrusive and is inherently "permission-based". While spammers are also using these mediums, they can also all be used quite legitimately to become connected with those who are interested in receiving information about what you're trying to sell.
Remember, the ultimate goal is not to blast people with your message -- but to obtain results. If you're a politician, that means contributions and votes. If you're a business, that means people buying your product or service. If you're a church, that means people showing up on Sunday. Your marketing should be geared towards making those things happen in a way that is positive and doesn't result in intense negative feedback.
Legitimate, best-practice-based marketing can do that. Spamming cannot!