Spam or not spam

I have been a bit behind on my blog reading recently, and am slowly going through my RSS feed catching up with what everyone has had to say about spam in the last few weeks.
One of the articles that caught my attention was a post from VerticalResponse discussing the response to a marketing campaign from one of their customers. It seems to me the point of the post is to defend the VerticalResponse mail to the customer. The mail VerticalResponse sent was not spam. Why this is true is not made clear, other than the mail was not pills spam, phishing or porn.
Contrasting with that article is a post a friend pointed out to me today. This article goes to the other extreme, and seems to say that any one-to-many email is spam and should not be sent. While trying to find his point, the author does take the step of exempting any opt-in marketing from his definition. The confusing bit is that the statistics he is using are compiled by MailerMailer, who have a very clear anti-spam policy and allow only permission based marketing.
What both posts seem to be missing is that, these days, spam is in the eye of the receiver, not the sender. There are customers who groan every time they receive mail from their vendor. Eventually, they may lash out at a sender and complain about the email. At that point, a sender is now dealing with an angry person, and arguing the mail is no spam is not going to diffuse the situation. On the flip side, there are people who are very happy to receive mail, even advertising and marketing mail, from vendors. Even if they do not “open” the mail (read: load images in the email), they may be opening, reading and acting on the offers in the email.
Email marketing is a valuable tool, when it is done correctly and focuses on the receiver’s needs and wants. It is when marketers ignore the individuals they are mailing that they are more likely to see complaints or problems.


  1. hanov3r says

    I suspect that VerticalResponse’s qualification of that mailing as “not spam” is, at least in part, derived from the fact that they sent it to people with whom they have a contractual business relationship – their customers.
    That said, a lot of what’s in that post is significantly more naive than I expect from Janine.

  2. laura says

    Well, even if a sender is mailing customers, some of those recipients may think they have been spammed by their vendor. Getting defensive and telling the recipient why the the recipient is wrong is not, to my mind, an effective strategy for convincing them the mail is not spam.


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