Sending emails promoting your business to your subscriber list is one thing, using that list to develop and grow sales is another. It is an entirely different strategy to utilize black hat techniques, marketing your business through strategies and practices that are considered unethical. When it comes to email marketing, many businesses use these unethical strategies and many even break the law.
What are some examples of unethical email marketing strategies (and the consequences that come with them)?
Using Unsolicited Emails. Using unsolicited emails means that you are sending sales pitch emails in bulk to your subscribers without their consent. You may have purchased the list or used certain programs to “scrape” the web to obtain emails.
When it comes to unsolicited emails, the common belief is at least one recipient out of every thousand will lead to a sales conversion, regardless of their location or niche. These emails are not targeted and, as mentioned, their use is not based on an agreement between the customer and vendor.
Private companies, organizations and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are working to “crack down” on this style of spam. Consequences of using unsolicited emails include the loss of your Internet service provider account and your inclusion in the “block list.” Your brand will be associated with spam. In addition, you could be fined by the FTC.
Opt-Out Refusals. Another problem that a business might face when they implement email marketing can arise from their refusal to allow recipients to opt out of receiving emails. If a customer or client wants to unsubscribe from a mailing list and you ignore or deny their request, you are using “black hat” marketing.
“An act called Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) was passed by the FTC in 2003,” said defense lawyer, Brockton Hunter. “CAN-SPAM states that commercial emails must provide recipients with the option of declining future emails. When a recipient wants out, the sender should comply within 30 days. A fine as high as $16,000 can be charged to a business for every email sent after the request was made by the recipient to opt out.”
Scraping Websites for Email Addresses. There is a debate over whether the purchase and use of programs that “scrape” email addresses is illegal or not.
The programs used to scrape sites use spambots. Spambots search sites for embedded email address in order to facilitate contact between the customer and vendor. In other words, the bots collect emails without the email owner’s consent in order to send promotional materials to those emails.
By using this method, you risk having your domain added to a black list. Additionally, there will be a greater chance of hackers attacking your servers.
Instead of using illegal email marketing practices, consider consulting ethical campaigns. Apart from protecting yourself from anti-spam and federal retaliation, your customers and peers are more than likely to appreciate respectful marketing principles.