Its 2005----Bulk Email Is Dead
A typical day at the inbox
Today, I received 374 e-mails total.
A pretty light day considering some days I get more than 1,000.
To clarify what they were--35 were for business, 4 were
personal in nature, 11 were from groups I asked to get
information from like Neiman Marcus and Urban Outfitters, VH1,
and a PR Newsletter.
The balance of 324 was unsolicited (UCE-unsolicited commercial
e-mail)--in other words spam.
If I extrapolate the UCE I’ve gotten in the last six hours
alone, I find I must be missing something about myself on some
I am a balding, fat man with a small penis that doesn’t work. I
am in debt.
I am looking for a lower interest rate on my mortgage while at
the same time making thousands of dollars with no effort on my
part in the privacy of my own home—filling out surveys,
stuffing envelopes and not selling something that miraculously
Even better, I can be a travel agent without wrinkles; obtain a
college degree while waiting for my 1500 advance to show up in
my bank account; I can restore my credit rating legally while
watching my free satellite TV and munching on my drugs sent
courtesy of an offshore pharmacy that has a doctor who will
write me a prescription… HMMM…definitely something to consider.
I’ve also discovered that I am a prime candidate to help an
African Prince transfer funds into the US. He trusts me. All I
have to do is give him my bank account information.
The problem is that I am a woman who doesn’t suffer those ills.
Someone thinks I do…There is something wrong with this picture.
The future of bulk email and why it is likely to remain dead
Now, you might be asking why I, who was dubbed the “Spam Queen”
in the “Wall Street Journal” three years ago, am even bothering
to say anything about e-mail?
Just to set the record straight, I have never advocated spam or
One reporter said to me, "Some people consider all bulk email
as spam. What do you have to say about that?" to which I
replied, "Then I guess you'd call me the spam queen," as a
In our sound byte media world, one editor turned this little
quip into a buzzword and I became known almost instantly, all
over the world, as representing what everyone, including
myself, hates about email.
The media as usual emphasized sensationalism and missed the
I am not complaining because my marketing business skyrocketed
as a result.
At that time I advocated email as a very effective medium for
small business, which because of its low cost lets small
businesses level the playing field against big corporations.
At no small personal risk, I visited the Federal Trade
Commission in Washington, DC, and spoke my peace about small
businesses and not throwing out the baby with the bathwater
before even the very term spam could be legally agreed upon and
defined to the satisfaction of marketers, ISPs and the
Small businesses are the lifeblood of the US economy, and
entrepreneurs with their dreams are what have made the US the
economic powerhouse it still is today.
Email that is sent to people who WANT to receive it, and that
is in accordance with their preferences, still gets a high
response. It allows many small businesses to get ahead. I
didn't want to see big corporations or the government take over
email and bar entry, filter, and extort everyone else while
still sending their own advertising messages freely.
And then came the Can-Spam act, which I and many other
legitimate marketers welcomed, because it had a great promise
of getting rid of the noise while keeping the signal.
As it turned out, the opposite happened. Email filters from
ISP's now block a large amount of legitimate messages, which
they call "false positives".
Marketers can't send the text they would like to send to their
subscribers, so they have to resort to filter tricking tactics
such as spelling the word spam as sp@@@M so that they can get
past the filters that were intended for another purpose
In a climate like this, legitimate companies that had been
diligently following best practices, and keeping their lists
clean for years, suddenly did not want to stay in business with
ambiguities in the law and the potential litigation that might
ensue even if all the rules WERE followed, so many companies
However the people that continue to send email illegally did
Often times sending from outside the US borders, they stepped
up their operations even more, to the point that there is
almost no truly legitimate bulk email left.
In other words, the signal has become lost in the noise.
The simplicity is this — bulk commercial e-mail has gotten to
the point where it isn’t effective. We just don’t do it
anymore. What’s the point? It doesn’t get a response, and we
found people are overloaded with advertising messages and no
longer willing to receive more, especially in their inbox,
unless they specifically asked for it.
As a marketing professional, the only thing that should count
for you at the end of the day is effectiveness. Bulk commercial
e-mail has turned into the above, a bunch of unprofessional,
In other words, Spam is a four-letter word.
Legitimate marketers are staying away in droves and it’s easy
to see why. First of all let’s look at some facts. In the
United States, it is legal to send unsolicited commercial
e-mail. The CAN SPAM act allows for this. You have to provide a
way to opt-out and not hide who you are, and a few more simple
but ethical rules.
Although it is legal, there isn’t an internet service provider
in the United States who will allow you to send unsolicited
Larger mailers have opt-in information from lists they purchase
which imply consent but those lists aren’t originated from the
mailer, but from other sub-mailers—you get a free thing or
access to a particular site and the user checks a box that it
is okay to get information from their “affiliates and
The “affiliates and partners” they are referring to are those
who pay for the e-mail addresses and opt-in information.
These guys are sending you mail legally, but the fact is, they
are not getting into your e-mail box for the most part.
Blocking, filtering, and doing it the “legal” way bulk wise, is
just not working.
Not to mention, there is no way to prove that the recipients
opted in or are willing to get the message since they opted in
at someone else’s site, not yours.
The response rate is pathetic and when that mail does get
through, you have many disgruntled individuals who never
remember opting in, so in their view, the mail is unsolicited.
The only way to get e-mail into inboxes en masse is by not
following the rules, so the only messages getting through are
the scams, including the pornographic, illegal, and
It is ironic that the very thing people want to rail against,
they are getting more of in the aftermath of Can-Spam.
So where does that leave us?
What can a small businessperson do to get their message out,
and not break their bank?
How to market effectively in the new internet wave
If you are a small businessperson, there are 3 alternatives
that you should consider, which are described in this next
What is effective you might ask? (Ask away, it’s kind of the
1) First party offers that impart some value added (a tip; some
information, something the consumer is interested in.)
Lets say John Q. Consumer gave his e-mail address for a
newsletter, or for more information on a particular subject, or
to play a game.
Chances are he probably would not be angered to get an e-mail
from your company especially since he asked for you to contact
him. He would recognize your domain name since he spent enough
time on your site to actually ask the info.
Additionally, your internet service provider would not shut you
down for violations and you’d start to build a small but
effective list of people who are actually interested in what
you, as a business owner, have to say.
This has been effective since the beginning of the internet.
The only problem is, how do you reach people the first time, to
get them to your site?
How do you find a target market for your products that is
likely to be interested in what you have to offer and sign up
for your newsletter, visit your site, and hopefully buy your
Is there anything less costly than television, radio, and
(ugh!) banner ads?
Yes there is. Drum roll please…..Search Engine Marketing. If
you write good ads, and compete with the right keywords, people
who are already searching for an answer to a question, doing
research, comparison shopping will go to a search engine and
type in their parameters.
If you know how to market well, only people who are interested
will go to your site.
If you have a web site that is compelling and you are offering
a value added, they will ask for more information or sign up
for your newsletter, or get your free download.
Now, getting to this point can sometimes take a little time,
but if you are persistent, and know how to interpret your
statistics, you can do this. If you want the result without the
learning curve, hire a Search Engine Marketing Firm.
So the new tools for small businesspeople to stampede traffic
to their websites in 2005 and beyond are going to be:
1) Search Engine Marketing
2) Publicity, including press releases that provide meaningful
3) Providing quality content and expert commentary for radio,
TV, and internet hubs in your field
You can be successful on the internet and these tools help to
establish you as an expert in your field, as well as attract
the very people who are looking for your product or service at
the same time.
These are the tools of a new form of marketing, which people
are calling "In Touch" Marketing, or "intelligent marketing"
and is one way to cut through and actually get you the most
possible business, at the lowest possible cost, with laser
precise targeting. In future articles I will teach you how to
use them with deadly precision.
This is the new way for small businesses and entrepreneurs to
succeed in 2005 and beyond.
Remember, you heard it here first :)
CEO, In Touch Media Group
About The Author: Laura Betterly is the CEO of In Touch Media
Group, (OTC:ITOU) and has successfully launched many
ebusinesses for herself and others More information is
available at www.intouchmediagroup.com