To Spam or Not to Spam - You Know the Answer
by Joseph Nchor
When you send Unsolicited Commercial E-mail
(UCE) to one recipient or to many, that e-mail
is considered spam. Internet Service Providers
(ISPs) complain that some UCE overloads and
sometimes short down servers. Email recipients
protest that barrage of UCE cost them money
- especially if they pay metered Internet access.
Time used in deleting unwanted e-mails results
in lost money too. There is truth to both complains.
Therefore, the question whether to spam or not
is obvious. Do not do it! While legislators
are wrestling whether to outlaw UCE, some states
have laws in place that make it illegal.
Well, if you don't do it, how will you get
your message to prospective customers you
never created any acquaintance? Use opt-in
mailing lists. You can build a mailing list
by collecting email addresses of your visitors
who have opted to receive news from you, or
you can rent a mailing list from opt-in email
Building opt-in e-mail takes time, and renting
an opt-in e-mail list is not cheap. The use
of opt-in mailing list does not guarantee
that you will not receive complains from email
recipients. An alternative is to collect e-mail
addresses and send your message to a target
audience that is in need of your product or
services. However proceed with care: don't
just randomly harvest e-mail addresses and
blast them. Remember, there is risk involved
in this approach, but if you are afraid of
risks, you should not be in business. This
is what you should do:
1. Know your audience.
Every business or everyone is in need of something.
Businesses who are your prospective clients
need your products or services. The same is
true with consumers. While they may be in
need of your business, this may not be true
at all times. Therefore, before you send your
e-mail out, know when they want your business.
Know your target audience.
2. Use legal means to collect e-mail addresses.
When you have ascertained your target audience,
use legal means possible to collect email
addresses. Start your own opt-in mailing list.
Place a form on your web site to collect e-mail
addresses. If you have a brick and mortar
store, place a box to collect e-mail addresses.
Look at the business cards you received from
people you met at meetings, business expos
or conventions. Visit websites of your prospective
customers and request that they join your
mailing list. Keep your first contact introductory
3. Keep Your Message Short
After you have built your mailing list, write
your message. Keep it short, preferably about
a paragraph long. Do not sell in your first
message. Introduce yourself or your company
with a free or special offer. Remember that
nobody wants to read a long e-mail from a
stranger. Nonetheless, include your web site
address where he or she can find more information
about your company. Do not, however, forget
to include your contact information - especially
your mailing address and phone number.
4. Personalize Your Message
Personalize your message; your reader will
feel special and will less likely take you
for an intruder. Include the reader's name
and if possible, the position he or her holds.
If your email is short and personalized, your
email recipient is likely to read and digest
5. Send your Message
Send your message in batches to prevent server
overload. You may want to do it at night when
there is less traffic over your ISP. Consider
mailing list software that act like e-mail
servers and will run from your desktop --
a software that will allow you to manage bounced
e-mails and "remove" requests from
individuals who may not want to read from
you again. Watch responses roll in -- hopefully
positive responses that request more information
about your product or service.
Before you start writing UCE, know that spamming
is wrong. Opt-in mail is the best option to
solicit business through e-mail, but when
in need to reach a target audience that you
have not created any acquaintance either in
person or through the web, a carefully planned,
targeted, short and personalized UCE is an
alternative. Above all, know your audience
and also know that the use of this alternative
comes with some risk, but when a business
or consumer receives your e-mail at the time
they need your product or service, your e-mail
message may not be spam after all. Nonetheless,
proceed with care. Happy prospecting!