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Would you call this spam?

 12:19 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am planning to send about 5,000 emails out to people who have used any of the services one of my sites, purchased an item or have sent a personal email to me, with a text on top, "You have previously used one of my services, please click here if you don't want to receive similar newsletters from #*$!X anymore."





 12:27 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't know what to call it, but unless I have opted in to this kind of email, I always curse and delete this kind of 'follow up' email and add the address to my spam filter.

I may or may not be unusual in this.


 12:33 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's an unsolicited bulk email.

Spam in my book.


 1:10 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

What else is in the email?


 1:22 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> What else is in the email?

What I am going to offer them, I expect 95% of them will be happy that they came across this email? But then again, one person is enough to report you as a spammer?



 2:48 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

But then again, one person is enough to report you as a spammer?

Yes. Not everyone is going to remember signing up or e-mailing you. Some will remember and won't be happy getting an unsolicited e-mail. I know I'm not thrilled when I get an e-mail claiming that I signed up for something, when I know I haven't, or more offers to buy something from someone from whom I bought one item a year ago. Even well-known e-commerce sites send this even if you unclick the boxes that say "Please send me future offers."

I check my spam filters regularly and you'd be surprised who's in there.


 3:11 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I wouldnt do it, I too receive emails from big ecom sites and I never read any of their recommendations.

Besides what would your ISP/Host say to you sending 5000 emails?


 3:13 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Unrequested,unapproved email = spam.


 3:13 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Funny, just before I read this I got such an email from someone I only very vaguely recall buying something from through ebay ages ago. I marked the email as spam.

Matt Probert

 3:22 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

In my experience, some people will classify this as spamming, and with the paranoida that abounds, even a single complaint can cause major disruption.

Sadly, the advice must be don't do it.



 3:47 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Definitely spam.


 4:46 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

From a legal standpoint (IANAL) - I believe this is not SPAM [ftc.gov...]

From a moral standpoint - I would probaly consider it SPAM unless they specifically requested it.

From a business standpoint - check with your ISP and Hosting Provider. If they consider ot SPAM, you can get your web site and or home/office offline from a single complaint.


 5:06 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I even held back on emailing my forum members about an ongoing contest for fear of spam reports.


 8:55 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you want the ability to do this in the future, add a way for your customers to opt into getting email offers and start building your list. But I wouldn't try to do it retroactively - for all the reasons already given.


 8:28 am on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

The exact laws on spam vary from country to country. I was almost laughing too much to block the sender when I received a mail from a .uk address in my .uk inbox that said that it complied with the Canspam act.

If you didn't give the customers an opportunity to opt in at the time then it is too late. If you have a legit reason to contact previous customers individually then slip an opt-in offer into the signature.


 8:47 am on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> From a legal standpoint (IANAL) - I believe this is not SPAM [ftc.gov...]

My worries were more of a legal than ethical point of it. I am hoping that most of the customers will be pleased to receive this email.



 9:42 am on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

If the intention is money-making, I would call it spam.

The only legit reason I can think of for sending unsolicited bulk email is to offer some sort of warning (e.g. there's a bug in version 3.2 of GeeWhizz, please upgrade to 3.2.1) however, emails of this sort are sent out regularly and most, if not all, are fakes so even this reason is dubious.



 5:42 pm on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

in my opinion ITS SPAM regardless of what the context is unless you know every one of them. 5000 emails? What else would you call it.


 5:49 pm on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

In my opinion, it's clearly SPAM. It may or may not comply with 'can spam' but it is spam.

Don't worry about the law as much as about your upstream providers. Your webhost, datacenter and ISP are all likely to take a very hard line against even a single complaint. In most cases your webhost will deactivate your site first and ask questions later - because if they don't - they could have their whole operation suspended by the datacenter who forwarded them the complaint.

Your ISP probably has pretty strict rules about emailing. Check their terms of use.


 8:35 pm on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't know about the legalities, but I'm not sure I agree with Paladin [webmasterworld.com] on the moral question. That is, I might agree and I might not, depending on the relationship you have with these people, if they'll remember dealing with you, if you're providing real content, etc.

Legalities aside, this is a little closer to the spam line than I'd care to be with a list of 5000. I know two people who are at this moment considering the exact same thing you're thinking of; however, one of these folks has a list of just 40 (yes, forty) and the other might possibly have 200. And they both know their audiences exceptionally well.

I'd say you need to make sure of your legal ground first, then see if the potential risk is worth the potential benefit. Out of 5000, you will certainly have some upset (possibly irate) people. But if you're really sure 95% will appreciate being included, well, that's your decision! :)

As a customer, I would probably not consider this spam, but I also would probably not click the link to subscribe unless I really felt a need for your services and was confident you'd be providing information I could really use. I do admire that you're offering people the chance to opt-in to receive future mailings. A lot of people in your situation would just set up the list and make people unsubscribe.


 12:02 am on Jun 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

>> spam .... 5000 emails? What else would you call it. <<

So if someone like say Amazon, or e-bay, were to send ten million emails out to their previous customers that would be mass spam of an unimaginable size?


It would be normal business communication.

If this is to people who are already your customers then it is probably not spam.


 12:54 am on Jun 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I would call this borderline spam, because they are customers of yours and so they're not absolute cold-calls, which spam usually seems to be. However, why alienate any customers by spamming them? The sales you make from it will probably just about balance out the customers you lose permanently because they are mad from you spamming them. Doesn't seem worth it.

I have a list of 1500 people who double opted in to get my newsletter (which I pretty much never send out because I am so disorganized), but even so, I would not send them anything EXCEPT the newsletter. They didn't sign up for anything else, and it isn't fair, IMO, to go ahead and send them something they didn't ask for just because they wanted to get my newsletter.

I don't even like it when Amazon sends me spam, and I buy tons of books from them.


 12:31 pm on Jun 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I suppose that if these people have used your services before this wouldn't be considered as spam but as an update or notification kind of thing. If the case is that they haven't heard of it or want it then it is a spam with a capital S.


 2:55 pm on Jun 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

i do not think so - as long as you are stating that you have done one of the following....etc that is fine I think - because they have interacted with your site prior

I have a new mailing list and I need to import all my old list and the email system will not allow imports because of spam issues, whatever

so what I did is sent and email out saying you will receive this once and if you would like to continue to receive updates please re subscribe here... etc


 7:44 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

For me - not spam, though there is an extremely high probability that I will delete the email immediately. These are your customers. Customer contact, follow-up, service - all good - all acceptable - usually. We are all bombarded with spam to the point that we don't even want to see email that is perfectly reasonable and justifiable. If I were your customer and you gave me an opt-out, we would remain on good terms. If I liked doing business with you and would do so again, then I probably would not opt-out - unless you sent me an email every f'n week forever, which a ton a big time companies elect to do - and they ought to know better. Those are the ones that I will go out of my way not to do business with ever again.


 8:17 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

What I am going to offer them, I expect 95% of them will be happy that they came across this email?

Yeah, right, sure they will.

If people registered in some way and agreed to be contacted, you're home free. Otherwise it's spam. Also, sending you a personal email does not constitute signing up for a newsletter.

In any case you should be less concerned about the "legalities" and more concerned about the practical consequences. You shouldn't be worried about the state prosecutor going after you, you should be worried about what action your ISP or your sponsors/partners might take if they start getting spam reports.

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