95% of all communications sent via the Internet are deemed to constitute spam. This statistic is disturbing and worthy of our consideration. This communication method, moreover, should be used judiciously, with due respect for e-marketing rules of conduct. Failure to do so could result in your newsletters being labelled as “spam” and your company dubbed a “spammer”.

Here are a few situations where this could occur:

  • When a newsletter includes content other than that to which your readers have subscribed.
  • When your mailing lists include addresses such as “info@___.com”.
  • When you send your communications to e-mail addresses you’ve obtained from a third party (example: a list from your local Board of Trade) but whose owners have not given you their individual consent (opt-in*).
  • When unsubscribing from a mailing list is difficult if not impossible (opt-out*).
  • When you don’t regularly update your mailing lists (example: by deleting addresses that are no longer valid).
  • When you suddenly increase the frequency at which you send out your newsletter (example: going from a monthly to a weekly communication).
  • When you fail to adhere to technical standards regarding mailings (example: servers transmitting mail at a high throughput).

To avoid having your newsletters tagged as spam, make sure you have recipients’ consent (opt-in).  Some senders even take the added step of obtaining this consent twice (double opt-in).

* Here are a few buzz words that you need to know:

ACTIVE OPT-IN: The Internet user must voluntarily check a box (or make a selection in a dropdown list) to be added to a mailing list.

PASSIVE OPT-IN: An affirmative response is already checked (in a box) or selected in a dropdown list.

DOUBLE OPT-IN: The Internet user who subscribes to a mailing list receives an e-mail which he must reply to in order to confirm his subscription. This double opt-in thus serves to protect Internet users from malevolent subscriptions by third parties, in addition to enabling a sender to validate e-mail addresses.

OPT-OUT: The opt-out enables an Internet user to unsubscribe from a mailing list to which he was previously subscribed (with or without his consent).

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One good rule of thumb: Remember that the Internet user is the one granting you the privilege of opening and reading your electronic communication, and not vice versa!

Also make sure that there exists a business relationship with recipients (or that you have obtained consent) before sending out newsletters.

Lastly, you should not attempt to instantaneously become a mass marketer. Various rules must be followed, and numerous products are available to help you send professional messages. We invite you to visit the Cyberimpact.ca site to learn more about the features of one such product.
This article was posted at 12:04 p.m. on Monday, November 17, 2008 and is available under cyber newsletters. You can read comments and responses to this post via RSS 2.0 feed. You can also post a comment or do a trackback from your own site.