Below is an article I wrote YEARS ago when I was in the business of email marketing (yes, back when it was brand new). I am sharing it because the experience is still valid today, this still goes on, and rereading this after all those years made me shake my head in awe of the chutzpah these companies had and still have. I think it’s an important thing to remember.

Recently, we took on a great new account which really helped out financially (five-figures per month in income). They guaranteed their lists were permission-based (in writing) and we began distributing for them. Three weeks later, we had 2/3’s of each mailing bouncing, more complaints than we could shake a stick at and all of the spam bureau’s down our throats. We didn’t understand it – yet.

Soon after this, we began to notice little things, for example, they had huge Fortune 5,000-type companies paying them to distribute their email ads for everything from mortgages to car accessories and all points in-between. The emails always went to the subscriber as “FabulousDeals@___.com” (name changed) … ick … not only that, the statistics didn’t seem to phase our client. For example, on a 211,000 piece mailing, 57,000 bounced, 4,900 opted-out and 198 clicked thru. From my experience with truly permission-based emarketing, that’s really bad.

So, we spoke with our client, informing them that to continue doing business with them, we would require the next email they send will be an OPT-IN permission-verification email (i.e. the subscribers had to take action to continue to receive our client’s mail). Wow did they adamantly refuse to allow us to do this stating “if you send an Opt-In mailing you will get a 70% drop-off and ruin the list.”

Since they wouldn’t do this to “clean out” the list to make it truly permission-based, we had to ask them to find another distributor. We offered to send them their lists, cleaned out of all the bounces and opt-outs since we had been distributing (FREE OF CHARGE) and they REFUSED to accept it … can you believe it??? I was totally shocked. This lead me to realize something we had no way of knowing previously … this company makes millions of dollars off of HUGE very well known National and International businesses sending SPAM … and doesn’t care. They’ll use a distributor for a while until they get blocked and then move on to another distributor, repeating the process.

Now I understood why there was so much hatred from the subscribers to this list … we were just another distributor in the line, starting over after the last distributor bowed-out. The poor subscribers have to go through it all over again.

I make my point …

My point is, I feel the anti-spam organizations are hitting distribution firms (such as myself) VERY hard while either forgetting, ignoring or not knowing what to do about those I call the “Instigators” (i.e. those who pay to have the spam sent in the first place, without their money, the spam would go nowhere). We are serious about keeping it legal and ethical, refusing to “take the easy road to riches” like others who tried to stay legal and went back to their foul practices, but the anti-spammers are making it hard for us and forcing those trying to comply, back into their nefarious pasts.

I would invite you to share your views, points and stories, here in our Blog. I welcome your success stories with permission-based email, your spam nightmares, even your insight into the problem of spam and what to do about it, how can businesses like mine help clean up the industry while staying in business – what additional tools and services might we be able to add to make email marketing tools more valuable while avoiding the spam trap (which is easy for any business to fall into at one point or another).

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