Did you know that it’s entirely possible to learn the wrong lessons? Well, it is.
I use Zemanta to suggest possible links for blog posts. As I was writing yesterday’s blog post, a suggested link came up dealing with CAN-SPAM and the definition of “spam”. That post by Roger Bauer shows how some people just don’t get it when it comes to permission-based marketing.
Here’s the money quote:
Look, you can flame all you want about unsolicited emails, but they’re part of doing business as long as you comply with the requirements and regulations stipulated. It’s time the over-sensitive types quit designating every unsolicited email as SPAM especially when the email passes all the tests for compliance.
The Bottom Line
I’m not recommending you ever truly SPAM anyone. I’m merely stating that relevant commercial email that complies with the regulations set forth by the US FTC is NOT SPAM no matter how many times you want to cry it.
The problem here is that the word “spam” is fairly meaningless in most contexts. When I first got started working on/with the Internet back in 1997, “spam” was a word that people understood originally dealt with excessive posts to USENET newsgroups. By that time it had also come to take a similar meaning concerning email.
The Spamhaus Project says:
The word “Spam” as applied to Email means “Unsolicited Bulk Email”.
And, unfortunately, the receiving community isn’t helping. As Laura Atkins points out:
Many of the large ISPs use “mail our users complain about” as their definition. With this definition, they do not have to argue permission status with a sender. The data shows that their customers complain about mail from that sender or with that URL. The ISPs are going to block, or deliver to the bulk folder, email that their users do not want.
So now, because some creative people in Congress came up with an acronym for a law touching email which involves the letters “SPAM” we have people thinking that there is a law which defines what spam is and is not. And the result is that we have at least three operative definitions of “spam” running around (and there are quite a few others).
What our intrepid poster wishes us to understand is that email which complies with CAN-SPAM cannot possibly, under any circumstances, be considered by spam by those who receive it. The lessons eventually learned (and mentioned in the second comment) is that your provider’s definitions and rules apply, even when they are more strict than CAN-SPAM’s definitions and rules, and, if you are going to mail a purchased list, you should use some other third-party provider to send that email out and use it to feed your list (a really poor practice in and of itself). But, these are the wrong lessons to learn.
First of all, let’s start with an assumption. As a rule those are bad and we usually desire not to assume anything. However, in this instance, I think there is one assumption that is pretty safe to make: InfusionSoft did not have addresses on the list that was mailed. That is to say that InfusionSoft did not learn that their client was emailing such a list because they actually received the mailing, but rather because they had received a complaint about it from someone else who did.
Talk about getting a relationship off on the wrong foot! Here is someone who is sending mass emails out which are prompting people to complain, and is then complaining that bad things happened.
Email is about relationships, not process. That’s a phrase that I generally detest because many people who work in the area misapply the concept. They think that sending email is about the relationships that they have with people who work for some ISP or large webmail provider. In many of those instances, it’s more about process than relationships now (unlike, say, 5 years ago). When they make those contacts at the ISPs because mail isn’t getting delivered and ask for help the following two questions usually come forth: Did you follow the process? Is something broken in our process?
But, sending bulk email is, in fact, about relationships, just not that relationship. Sending bulk email is about the relationship that the sender has with the recipient, not the recipient’s ISP. The question that didn’t get asked in our post was “why were enough people complaining about what I did that my provider shut me down, even though I had never caused problems before?”
That’s a relationship issue. And that relationship issue is one that has a direct impact on your ability to get mail delivered to the recipient in a timely fashion.