6 February 2013

Spam, AnyOne?

Spam, we all hate it and yet accept it as part of  everyday life. I recently gave a social media presentation which resulted in a heated debate about the definition of spam.  I assumed everyone knew what spam was, but there seemed to be different opinions as to what exactly spam is.

According to Wikipedia Spam is the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages, especially advertising, indiscriminately. While the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media.

Spamming occurs when a company typically buys an email list and bulk emails these people without them having even shown an interest in that company or its products.
It is illegal to send unsolicited emails to both companies and individuals.  I was surprised to see some think it was acceptable for spammers to target companies but not individuals.  Spamming is spamming and no differentiation is made between spamming individuals or company members.
The regulations state that when someone subscribes to your list (gives you their name and email) you must give them the option to be able to unsubscribe. Otherwise this is again spamming.
Subscribing to an email list is known in the trade as opting in.  The opt-in form is typically found on the top right hand side of a web page were it is most effective.
Bulk emailing to an audience who have volunteered their name and email in return for a newsletter sign-up or a free product is not spamming.  If you do subscribe to such a list you can unsubscribe anytime to avoid any unwanted further emails.
The only thing is, experienced marketers will mix value emails (containing something of interest to you) with promotional emails so it will feel less like you are being sold to. 

In the late 19th century Western Union allowed telegraphic messages on its network to be sent to multiple destinations. This first recorded instance of a mass unsolicited commercial telegram occurred in May 1864.  Given that spam of one kind or another has been with us for so long, it will continue to be part of our daily lives for some time yet to come.

If you have any interesting "spam stories" to tell, please comment below.
Many thanks, Chris.

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