The Real Spam Has Stood Up

In "Will the Real Spam Please Stand Up?," Kevin Stirtz disagrees with the statement, "until a user has opted-in to your email list, you are sending spam."

All fine and good. Nothing wrong with a bit of disagreement. I'll prove it: I disagree!

Do any of the following apply to what you're doing?
  • You add people to an email list and start mailing them without their prior knowledge.
  • Recipients on your list aren't expecting your mail.
  • You bought an email list.
  • You found one or more email addresses on the web and added them to your list.
If any of those apply to what you're doing: You're a spammer, dummy.

Forget about Web Marketing 101, let's talk about Email Marketing 101, and how to get your email delivered.

Target it all you want, avoid including a sales pitch, whatever. But if you build a list of people who didn't ask to hear from you, and are not expecting to hear from you, you're not going to have the ability to successfully deliver to that list. It's that simple.

Forget what Kevin thinks. Forget what I think. What do ISPs think? Let me clue you in: ISPs hate spam, because their users hate spam. When you send unwanted and unexpected email, recipients report it as spam in overwhelming numbers. Those spam reports significantly damage your sending reputation. Hotmail, Yahoo, and AOL will filter or reject your mail as a result. You're likely to get blacklisted by Barracuda, Spamcop, Brightmail, and Spamhaus, as a result.

In spite of a cheekily-written blog post containing a clever redefinition of what constitutes spam, permission remains key to getting your email delivered. Sure, you can get away with bypassing permission -- for a little while. Until your sending reputation catches up to you. Just because it hasn't caught up with Kevin (yet), doesn't mean it makes for a sustainable marketing model or best practice.

It seems that I'm not the only one with this viewpoint, either.