{ 16 comments }

Jason Henderson August 16, 2011 at 2:51 am

if you violate someone’s expectations when they signed up to your list, it is spam. i.e. get my free tips

So if you start promoting a bunch of products, then it can be correctly called spam. So best to write a good welcome email outlining what they should expect.

Big Jason

Anonymous August 16, 2011 at 3:05 am

And I don’t know if my comment made it – Disqus has been giving me trouble, but all chain letter forwards are spam. Your own personally written messages sent to multiple recipients are not.
I have deliberately neglected to let certain forward-addicts know when I changed my email address, because they were always sending chain letters – viral guck sent from/to zillions of other people already – and obviously nothing they wrote. Chain emails are manipulative and their aim is clearly to get as many people replicating them as possible. They play on any and every emotion to get people hooked into their schemes. And that is spam.

Ryan Healy August 16, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I’m no fan of chain letters… and my mom has shown more restraint since I talked with her. So I understand why you haven’t let certain people know of your new email address. :-)

Anonymous August 16, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Yes. :) One of my first experiences with a chain-addict was this young girl who was, unfortunately also a new Christian, and this is what’s unfortunate – she, like so many other Christians on the net, was totally wowed by every sappy religious chain forward, and it got to the point where it was like, I’d see her name in my email and go “Oh, no, please not another one…”
She was also my first experience with something that I’d be head desk frustrated with right up until now. That is – the people who begin by writing their own emails until they suddenly decide forwards are so much cooler, so once they send chain letters, that’s literally all you ever get from them – ever. Argh!
I was once on a chat list, until the moderator up and decided it was now a “Christian” list. Much to my huge chagrin, all that meant was now she was going to send and encourage others to send stupid religious exploitive chain letters!
My request for her to stop the forwards was denied, so I screamed in my head and left that list in disgust.
Receiving the same feds over the years coming from different sources, plus my experiences above drove me to make a site where chain letters get smashed. It keeps me from screaming at my friends, though if they send me something that can be debunked with links to back my position up, I’ll still reply letting them know the latest non-urgent, not so profound chain letter they sent really isn’t all that special or true.

Ryan Healy August 16, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Way to go for debunking chain letters. It’s my opinion that anybody who’s ever tempted to “forward a forward” should cross-check it against Snopes or a similar site. Probably half of all chain letters are urban legends with just enough truth to be believable.

Anonymous August 16, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Yes. :) One of my first experiences with a chain-addict was this young girl who was, unfortunately also a new Christian, and this is what’s unfortunate – she, like so many other Christians on the net, was totally wowed by every sappy religious chain forward, and it got to the point where it was like, I’d see her name in my email and go “Oh, no, please not another one…”
She was also my first experience with something that I’d be head desk frustrated with right up until now. That is – the people who begin by writing their own emails until they suddenly decide forwards are so much cooler, so once they send chain letters, that’s literally all you ever get from them – ever. Argh!
I was once on a chat list, until the moderator up and decided it was now a “Christian” list. Much to my huge chagrin, all that meant was now she was going to send and encourage others to send stupid religious exploitive chain letters!
My request for her to stop the forwards was denied, so I screamed in my head and left that list in disgust.
Receiving the same feds over the years coming from different sources, plus my experiences above drove me to make a site where chain letters get smashed. It keeps me from screaming at my friends, though if they send me something that can be debunked with links to back my position up, I’ll still reply letting them know the latest non-urgent, not so profound chain letter they sent really isn’t all that special or true.

Ryan Healy August 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Good point, Jason. A well written welcome email can go a long way toward building a good subscriber relationship.

Jonathan Cohen August 23, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Also, make your unsubscribe process a single-click, or be prepared to be marked as Spam. If the reader has to log in to update their preferences, it’s easier to click Spam in the email client.

Ryan Healy August 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm

If you require people to login to unsubscribe, I believe that’s a violation of CAN-SPAM. Either way, I agree 100%: your unsubscribe process should be one to three clicks total.

I say three clicks because many unsubscribe processes go like this:

1. Click unsubscribe link.
2. Select the list you want to be unsubscribed from.
3. Click confirm.

Ryan Healy August 23, 2011 at 10:24 pm

If you require people to login to unsubscribe, I believe that’s a violation of CAN-SPAM. Either way, I agree 100%: your unsubscribe process should be one to three clicks total.

I say three clicks because many unsubscribe processes go like this:

1. Click unsubscribe link.
2. Select the list you want to be unsubscribed from.
3. Click confirm.

Grahame August 25, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I believe there is another class of spam, Ryan. You request a “monthly” or  “weekly”, maybe even a “daily” newsletter and what you get is bombarded with constant offers that far exceed the original terms of the request, and very little useful content. I call it opt-in spam. Sure, you gave the guy permission to mail you, but you didn’t give him permission to clog up your in-box.

Off topic: I re-aquainted myself with your site while unsubscribing to various lists after encountering (via a different source) the Salty Droid, a real eye-opener. I saw your e-mail, titled “Is the Salty Droid Even Human?” in my in-box and thought it would be in support of the scambags it exposes. LOL, not quite. Nice work. You are now officially not on my unsubscribe list.

Anonymous August 25, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Exactly, that is spam as well.

Ryan Healy August 25, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Hi Grahame – Good points. I think that gets back to setting clear expectations up front so subscribers know what they’re going to get — and then fulfilling those expectations (but not violating them).

I figured that subject line would get some attention, especially since I’ve written posts in support of Salty Droid in the past. Thanks for the positive feedback. :-)

deniseoberry August 27, 2011 at 11:49 pm

I can sure relate to your post. As someone who embraces email marketing as a good relationship building channel, it really annoys me when my messages are marked as spam — especially since all of my lists are double opt in. Every single message has an unsub link at the bottom and I invite people to unsub if they no longer want to receive mail. But, as they say, spam is in the eye of the beholder. The best we can do is manage it.

Ryan Healy August 28, 2011 at 8:31 pm

I’ve found that people in consumer markets are less likely to understand what spam is than people in B2B markets. Most of us in online marketing have a higher tolerance for commercial email… but consumers will often report an email as spam if they happen not to like the information. Frustrating, but just the way it is for now. :-)

Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous August 17, 2011 at 3:32 am

Thanks! :) Yes.

Oh, and I have several of these hoax-debunking sites handy.

I needed more than one of them because some far-right extremists refuse to believe anything from Snopes, because yet another stupid chain letter rumour has told them that Snopes is “flaming leftist” *Headdesk*
Somebody on Twitter posted a pro-birther thing, to which I replied with a debunk from Snopes. To which he replied with “Oh, Snopes, the com my site” or some such drivel. I knew where he got that idea, from that infernal chain email! I screamed. Then I posted back with a TruthOrfiction link, debunking that one. Argh!
Yes.

I’d bet at least 99% of forwards have at least something false in them, and what little truth they contain is actually quite irrelevant to their scheme. Just enough of the right grain of truth to get people hooked, and the rest, being the emotional walloping is there to get people knee jerking and forwarding.
And man can they get huffy when it’s pointed out to them their forwards aren’t such precious little internet gems after all.
Someone got mad at me for posting a Snopes link debunking a stale old Halloween joke chain. Someone else got mad at me for much the same reason – they are so concerned about the truth the rest of the time, but boy when it comes to forwards, they just don’t care if the story is accurate – they just think it’s inspiring or funny etc. and assume I would too. Sheesh!

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