E-mail marketing: Is this acceptable?

26 replies
The case is:

1. You have developed a free product which is targeted to cafes. You believe it can be useful for some of those cafes.

2. You collect their e-mail address` one by one manually from their websites; and you reach their website adress via Yelp.com.

3. Send an informative e-mail about your FREE product only one time?

What are the pros & cons doing something like that ;assuming a decent percent of cafes are really interested in (because it is free ?

Can it cause any trouble legally? (say; you send those mail to 10.000 cafes from USA and EU)
#acceptable #email #marketing
  • Profile picture of the author lattlay123
    As long as it is the one off email and you don't continually email them afterwards then there should not be anything wrong with it.

    As long as it complies with the CAN SPAM act, you're good:

    1. Don't use false or misleading header information. Your "From," "To," "Reply-To," and routing information - including the originating domain name and email address - must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
    2. Don't use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
    3. Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
    4. Tell recipients where you're located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you've registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you've registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
    5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that's easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn't block these opt-out requests.
    6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient's opt-out request within 10 business days. You can't charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don't want to receive more messages from you, you can't sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you've hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
    7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can't contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.
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  • Profile picture of the author zahanega
    You said you would only send the email to each business once, and if you follow the guidelines that lattlay123 posted, I don't believe it would be considered spam.
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    I wouldn't risk "scraping" emails from websites. This is an ineffective form of marketing. This is like doing cold calling or collecting names from the phonebook to do direct mail.

    Stick with opt-in email marketing.
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    • Profile picture of the author Deshayla
      Originally Posted by Randall Magwood View Post

      I wouldn't risk "scraping" emails from websites. This is an ineffective form of marketing. This is like doing cold calling or collecting names from the phonebook to do direct mail.

      Stick with opt-in email marketing.
      I agree with Randall stick to having a opt-in page because the people that opt-in are ppl that are actually interested and you have a greater chance of them buying from you
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    • Profile picture of the author CPH007
      Originally Posted by Randall Magwood View Post

      I wouldn't risk "scraping" emails from websites. This is an ineffective form of marketing. This is like doing cold calling or collecting names from the phonebook to do direct mail.

      Stick with opt-in email marketing.
      But haven't companies made many millions of dollars cold calling and direct mail?

      Just because it's old and doesn't convert as well as opt in marketing i don't think we should dismiss it.

      If the mail has value and is of use to them then surely it will be a good method of making cold contacts
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  • Profile picture of the author JasonBennet
    I think it is better to do inbound marketing where you do some marketing and you get these cafe owners to opt in to join your list. You will be able to build a much better list which will give you better response.
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  • Profile picture of the author ParkerArrow
    I can understand the choice of Opt-In marketing; SEO of course may be one method. Are there any other methods to attract such a narrow prospect niche?

    I mean, you've got to get their eyes on your Inbound offer in the first place....
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    • Profile picture of the author pokerboy
      Originally Posted by ParkerArrow View Post

      I can understand the choice of Opt-In marketing; SEO of course may be one method. Are there any other methods to attract such a narrow prospect niche?

      I mean, you've got to get their eyes on your Inbound offer in the first place....
      I agree.

      I am assuming that some of those cafes will thank me in order to let them know about the service.

      Inbound is much effective in the long term. We need to inform our targets as fast as possible in the very short term.

      Appreciate any ideas.
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  • Profile picture of the author d3communications
    Look up the "Nine-word email" and "whiskers and cheese" from Dean Jackson. A cold call (ok, cold "email") probably won't net you anything for your work, even if the email is actually being watched by a real person, which is kinda doubtful.

    They key? Be all cheese and no whiskers. (seriously, listen to the podcast...#55 at iLovemarketing.com )
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  • Profile picture of the author ParkerArrow
    I've seen email work with a 12% CR on a free opportunity/offer. Converting cash sales is a whole other thing, though.

    What I do is query, have them reply if interested, and kick them an autoresponse with the offer (like an ebook download). Then only those who respond go on my List. Nothing lost.

    I also tried several times posting the offer on Craigslist - all I got were robot phish wanting bank account information. Not worth the bother.

    I'm trying a variation on this theme this week. Will report any significant new information here.
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  • Profile picture of the author ParkerArrow
    Ok, here's what happened:

    Using gmail, I sent out 50 queries with one subject and 50 with another subject to 100 BCC emails total.

    Google rejected the message due to the possibility of spam. First time that ever happened. Must have been the content, I had some multimedia in there. Or maybe the phrasing. Who knows?

    Still, if I could get people to email me, the autoresponder would still work. FWIW.

    As an alternative I suppose one could always hand out brochures and business cards with an offer on them. Beyond this, private messaging on social networks, or cold calling, I'm not sure how else to laser target a narrow prospect niche. Oh, and being their customer and starting a chat.

    Interesting problem, I bet a solution would be worth something....
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Originally Posted by ParkerArrow View Post

      Using gmail, I sent out 50 queries with one subject and 50 with another subject to 100 BCC emails total.
      Here's your problem.

      In your first post, you spoke of sending individual emails, not bulk messages. The same email copy with two different subject lines? Smells like potential spam to me, too.

      Try sending the emails one at a time, and personalize them with details about their website, menu, something.

      See if you still get rejected. If so, it's something in your copy.
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      • Profile picture of the author ParkerArrow
        Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

        Here's your problem.

        In your first post, you spoke of sending individual emails, not bulk messages. The same email copy with two different subject lines? Smells like potential spam to me, too.

        Try sending the emails one at a time, and personalize them with details about their website, menu, something.

        See if you still get rejected. If so, it's something in your copy.
        Great input, thanks John! To clarify what I was doing, I was split testing emails which I painstakingly took from individual sites and using BCC in order to avoid the repetition of sending an introduction letter to hundreds of people at a time. Is it spam? These are local businesses I was trying to make a personal connection with. I guess Google doesn't make the geographical distinction, so...they don't factor everything.

        I guess Gmail is not for networking. Their explanation as to why my message was rejected included a suggestion to try Google Groups! Groups! Is that still a thing??? Sorry, I can't speak Fortran anymore either! Now if you'll excuse me I have to update my freewebs site from last millennia!
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  • Profile picture of the author PaulDomains
    Hello folks,

    I guess most people is already aware of important changes on Gmail, which created filters for Spam, Social and Promotions. Now, for instance, all the emails managed by Aweber among many other autoresponder systems, are send automatically stored in a Promotions folder with independent counter and a green tag. The blue tag stores emails from the social media where you may find Linkldn, facebook, twitter, Youtube, hi5, and all those kind of automatically generated emails.

    From my humble perspective, this might represent a big change on how email marketing is currently working. The model was very simple. People would go to the inbox and would see emails grouped in a single category. Now, the Primay category is where no social and promotions emails would go.

    I am not pretty sure about the criteria they use to identify emails in order to filter them, but as I have recently found scary technology around, like the facebook face recognition software which ask you to tag a face they have recognized from your list of contacts, I have no idea what they will come with next time. Information acquisition is by far more complex than we think. It is not paranoia. Just simple observation.

    Besides, being a buyer myself, I find these tools very handy to help coping with the hundreds of spam messages every day. I´ve learned to identify which messages are pure BS allowing me to delete them right away.

    Finally, what I have found to be the best method to have potential businesses is content marketing. SEO, SEM. Email marketing, as the new direct response method, may be experiencing a decrease in success percentage. Of course, not everybody uses gmail, however, ignoring specific numbers, I would bet that most people do have gmail as their primary email provider. It is just faster and easier to use than most email managers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kieran R
    I believe this is within Can Spam laws, however sending the same email to so many different scraped emails may not bring the best success.

    Of course, it depends on the conversion rates of your product, but if you (or someone you outsource) were to send specific, unique emails which the cafes can relate to it would convert MUCH better.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewbieLifer
    Ditto to pretty much what everyone else has said. Your spamming people period. You are scraping email addresses. This is against the regulations of almost every major email marketing service out there. If you didn't already know this, then you wouldn't be posting this question. Your conscious already knows the answer to this question.

    It might work for awhile...until you get so many spam reports that your email provider shuts your list down.
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    • Profile picture of the author pokerboy
      Originally Posted by NewbieLifer View Post

      Ditto to pretty much what everyone else has said. Your spamming people period. You are scraping email addresses. This is against the regulations of almost every major email marketing service out there. If you didn't already know this, then you wouldn't be posting this question. Your conscious already knows the answer to this question.

      It might work for awhile...until you get so many spam reports that your email provider shuts your list down.
      Thanks for your comment.

      I do know it is spamming. Dropbox is also a free and very useful product; but it is not spamming to its potential customers, right?

      Nevertheless they do have other marketing options, but i dont. How will i make a contact of the decision makers or owners of those cafes & pubs?
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      • Profile picture of the author NewbieLifer
        Originally Posted by pokerboy View Post

        How will i make a contact of the decision makers or owners of those cafes & pubs?
        Paid Search ads that target that audience, article writing on subjects that they would find of interest, LinkedIn, facebook ads, direct mail postcards or cold calling.
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        • Profile picture of the author pokerboy
          Originally Posted by NewbieLifer View Post

          Paid Search ads that target that audience, article writing on subjects that they would find of interest, LinkedIn, facebook ads, direct mail postcards or cold calling.
          Why is unsolicited direct maling or cold calling is acceptable to a point whereas cold e-mailing is not?

          Is it because of the psychological factor that you spent money to reach those owners?
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          • Profile picture of the author ParkerArrow
            Originally Posted by pokerboy View Post

            Why is unsolicited direct maling or cold calling is acceptable to a point whereas cold e-mailing is not?

            Is it because of the psychological factor that you spent money to reach those owners?
            Good question. Also, how is emailing them individually any different from a BCC?

            If I ran a business and freaked out every time I got an unsolicited offer or networker, that would be my full time job. And let's face it, take away unsolicited emails, and Google becomes far less relevant to the world at large. Why not just eliminate the promotional tab altogether? Because it's equally as relevant as personal email and social email, is why.

            So easy to condemn "spammers," yet not so easy to renounce business through email, is it.
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            • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
              Originally Posted by ParkerArrow View Post

              Great input, thanks John! To clarify what I was doing, I was split testing emails which I painstakingly took from individual sites and using BCC in order to avoid the repetition of sending an introduction letter to hundreds of people at a time. Is it spam? These are local businesses I was trying to make a personal connection with. I guess Google doesn't make the geographical distinction, so...they don't factor everything.
              When you use the BCC function, especially with 50 addresses, it can look like you are trying to hide something. When your email arrives, it will show the original To: address, not the BCCs.

              You keep saying you were trying to make a "personal connection", but you were trying to do so with a bulk letter sent to a large group in one mailing.

              My personal reaction when I get that type of letter is the message is a) one of those meant-to-be funny messages someone got and forwarded to their entire address book, b) some kind of chain letter or c) some kind of scam.

              Spend the same kind of care sending the messages that you did in finding and selecting the recipients. That means sending personal emails one at a time. Follow the content and identification rules from CAN-SPAM, and it's just a business email, not spam (at least not in the eyes of the law).

              When I get an email sent to me, from a real email account, and a subject line that gets my attention, I open it. I may only read the opening paragraph, but at least the sender had a chance to connect. Give the folks you chose the same courtesy.
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  • Profile picture of the author AlfieGWhattam
    This could work however it's much more effective if they opt in themselves.

    Good luck either way, a coffee shop product sounds rather interesting,

    I'm good friends with Jerry Baldwin (the co-founder of starbucks) so if there's anything you think he could help you with then just shoot me a personal message, I'm happy to set up a phone call or something!
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  • Profile picture of the author thedanbrown
    I think the only way you'll find out is by trying... but no i dont believe you're breaking any laws or any part of the SPAM act
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  • Profile picture of the author ParkerArrow
    I'm not defending bulk mailing. You try this, you try that, you see what works. Certainly you want to attract sales and you don't do that by offending people.

    I'm just too busy to take offense at some things and I forget other people have the time.


    Still, this thread seems to instruct that personalizing targeted queries is worth the time. Good to know! It's better to have one acceptance than 100 rejections.
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  • Profile picture of the author garyt
    Not effective at all. They will probably ignore your emails. Think of other means....
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  • Profile picture of the author r0dvan
    Not that effective. But sometimes it might work.
    Be careful and add always an Unsubscribe link so you know that you wont ever email them again. Otherwise it will be considered as SPAM.
    Take care also on how much Spammy words you send. If it happend that several people report your IP, you will get into SpamHaus.
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