Sending Unsolicited Email Can Still Get You in Trouble

Posted by Marty Dickinson on Oct 14, 2009

Today a client asked me how he could get a list of emails for his market and send spam to them promoting his website using iContact. Here was my response:

I just got off the phone with a list provider I’ve used in the past called InfoUSA.com and they have a list of 888 total contacts in their database under the umbrella of “h-isniche.”

388 opt-in emails are on their list, meaning, people who have agreed to get email from them. InfoUSA will not give you this list of emails, but they will do an email campaign for you for $475 one-time. That is their starting rate, so you might be able to get that list number up higher targeting some other related categories and still only pay $475 for the emailing.

Call InfoUSA if you’d like to ask any questions or for next steps.

So, using that scenario, you would have InfoUSA send the email to their list on your behalf. Then you would offer something on your website as some kind of incentive for those email recipients to sign-up onto YOUR email list (the opt-in form would be provided by iContact). That could be a coupon or a free report that could be as simple as “5 Ways to Know You’re Getting the Best Deal on Your Niche Product“. Then you would be able to build your own list and send to them whenever you want using iContact.

In talking with iContact this morning, I did discover that we can now import existing lists to iContact and start sending email out. It used to be that they required an authorization email to go out first to the list you import (like Constant Contact still does) to verify that those people really do know who you are and want to receive your emails. That no longer appears to be the case.

So, you could certainly canvass your existing customers and get their email addresses and then import them into iContact. Then new visitors to the website would add their name and email to that list as well.

I’m sure we could use some kind of hacker script to go scrape solar sites and get email addresses. But, that’s not an ethical way to build a list.

I strongly suggest staying away from visiting websites, copying and pasting email addresses, and sending blankets of unsolicited email to them. That will get you in trouble.

The question you will ask yourself as a result of that statement is “Everybody does it, why can’t I?” Well, the reason people do spam and get away with it is because the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) cannot find who the sender is to fine them thousands of dollars. True spammers spend their days creating programs that use other peoples’ IP addresses to send their broadcasts from and fake addresses where the companies supposedly reside. People like you and me who would send genuine emails to people out of the blue would get reported and blacklisted and fined and all kinds of potentially bad things. Best to avoid it all and focus on getting people to opt-in to your list and build your list over time.

So, those are just some findings for you.

The alternative, and maybe a happy medium I suppose, would be to simply search google manually and find all the sites you can like hisnichecompetitor.com and then call them on the phone and ask for an email address of the person that would make the buying decision. Then you could send an individual email to that person saying “nancy” or whoever “suggested I send this email to you with the following information…” and invite them to come to the site and opt-in to your iContact list. At least you would have “semi” permission that way.

Hope that helps.

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