Is It Spam or Is It Something Else?

It really bugs me when people misapply the term “spam” to something that is not spam at all.

In my vernacular (which is English, by the way), spam is bulk unsolicited email sent indiscriminately, regardless of whether it is commercial or not.

If I send an email to my friends and family members — and they did not ask to receive it — it is not spam because it has been discriminately sent.

(And trust me, I’ve never asked to get all those email forwards from my mom, but I’ve never reported her as a “spammer.”)

But if I send a broadcast email to a bunch of people I have no relationship with… and they’ve never given me permission to email them… then that’s spam.

Unfortunately, I see a growing trend to label as “spam” any email you don’t want or didn’t find useful enough.

Example: Mr. Smith opts in to an email list about a topic he’s interested in. He likes the free report he gets, but quickly discovers he already knows the information in the other follow up emails.

He gets mad.

And then, simply because he doesn’t find the information useful enough, he calls it “spam.”

But wait — he already requested the information. He explicitly asked the publisher to send information by email. Therefore, by definition, it cannot be spam.

Here are a few scenarios I’ve seen and experienced that do not meet the criteria for spam, but often get reported as spam:

  • If you asked a publisher to send you email, and you don’t like the style of writing, it’s NOT spam.
  • If you asked a publisher to send you email, and you don’t find the information useful enough, it’s NOT spam.
  • If you asked a publisher to send you email, and you don’t like the product recommendations he makes, it’s NOT spam.
  • If you asked a publisher to send you email, and — God forbid — he suggests you buy a product, it’s still NOT spam.

Remember: It is a misapplication of terms to call somebody a spammer for sending you information you requested.

Don’t like the emails you’re getting? The solution is simple…

Take responsibility for your own inbox, click the unsubscribe button, and you won’t get any more emails.

-Ryan M. Healy

Ryan M. Healy

Ryan Healy is a financial copywriter and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like WordStream.com, SmallBizClub.com, and MarketingForSuccess.com.

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