the branch of linguistics concerned with the nature, the structure, and the development and changes of the meanings of speech forms, or with contextual meaning
the branch of semiotics dealing with relationships of signs and symbols to the things to which they refer, or with referential meaning
the relationships between signs and symbols and the concepts, feelings, etc. associated with them in the minds of their interpreters; notional meaning
loosely deliberate distortion or twisting of meaning, as in some types of advertising, propaganda, etc.
That’s immediately what came to mind when I was pointed to an article in BtoB Magazine by Kelly Lorenz and read the quote in this post’s title.
The entire point of the article is to say that the national economy has forced businesses into rethinking the use of best practices:
E-mail best practices dictate that you get the best results when you send messages to those who have opted in. But the recession, said Gary Halliwell, CEO of NetProspex, a “crowdsourcing” marketing database company, has changed e-mail marketing.
The post created a nice little discussion both on the website and on Twitter, which eventually included NetProspex and its COO, Mark Feldman. The long and short of the discussions ended up centering around NetProspex defending its business model. Best practices which conflict with NetProspex’s business model are “etiquette” and should be changed or dropped. Best practices which don’t conflict with the NetProspex business model are still best practices that should be followed.
This idea is prevalent across the board there. Consider, for instance, this post on their website: ““Targeted Opt-Out is the New 'Opt-in'.” Subtitles in this post include “Relevance trumps permission,” “Buying targeted lists is OK,” and “Can you afford not to?” I don’t find anything shocking in this, for we are talking about their livelihood, after all.
The gist of their argument is that opt-out email is legal under CAN-SPAM, so it should be okay with your recipients, too. For instance, in the BtoB Magazine article, their CEO says:
“The requirements of CAN-SPAM are really clear,” he said. “The sender of an e-mail has to provide an opt-out link, but there’s nothing prohibiting a marketer from sending an e-mail to someone who hasn’t opted in. The recession has forced us to drop this etiquette. We’re seeing a lot of companies, including Fortune 1,000 companies, changing their strategies from opt-in to opt-out with good results. As long as you’re sending relevant materials and creating educational experiences, people will be open to receiving your messages.”
On their website, you find this bit:
Contrary to some thinking, buying lists is OK. Remember the CAN SPAM act never mentions the words “opt-in” at all. That’s because CAN SPAM deals specifically with how to conduct opt-out campaigns that are in compliance with the law. There has often been confusion in this area, confusing “opt-in” with CAN SPAM.
I will certainly grant them that there has been some confusion here, but that confusion isn’t on the part of the people advocating best practices. We advocate things like “get permission” because it’s the right thing to do for our customers and clients, not because it’s a legal requirement. Best practices are best practices for a reason, and that reason in the commercial email space is rarely because Miss Manners has suggested that it’s the proper thing to do. It is far more often found in the desires of the recipients and the ISPs they pay to process mail for them.
And, as Al Iverson points out, “If ‘don’t break the law’ is your best advice, maybe you’re not really much of an expert.’”