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Just stop spamming!

Al posted a clip from the Jim Carrey movie Liar Liar on SpamResource (slightly NSFW) that resonated with me this week.
If you meet me on the street and ask me what my job is I’ll tell you that I work with companies who send bulk email to make sure that they’re not sending spam. I do this by educating clients into good practices and teaching them how to send mail people want to receive. What this statement doesn’t tell people is that usually clients find me because they have been suspended by their ISP for spamming or blocked by some receiver.
Clients who find me because they can’t send mail usually hire me to solve their immediate problem. And I do give the the best advice I can to resolve their problem. But fixing today’s problem isn’t enough, you also need to fix the processes that caused the problem. To me, a critical part of my job is to set clients up for long term success by creating procedures that will get them delisted and keep them from being relisted in the future.
Sometimes, though, I have those moments Al is talking about. When clients don’t actually want to fix their problems, they just want to argue. They want to argue about the definition of spam. They want to argue about permission. They want to argue about how awful their ISPs are for suspending their account. They want to argue about CAN SPAM. They want to argue about free speech. They are angry and they want to fight.
My role is to listen to them, then guide them down a constructive path. I do turn out to be the sounding board for a lot of customers, sometimes they just need to know someone is listening to them. Once they get it all out we can move on into solving the problem.
But, boy, are there the occasional conversations where I just want to scream, “JUST STOP SPAMMING!”

5 comments

  1. Jay Chambers says

    Laura,
    Do you never see any place for targeted but non-permission based email marketing?
    How do you fee about the gray areas of co-opt in etc?
    Jay

    1. laura says

      I don’t see much of a place for non-permission based email. It doesn’t scale, it transfers a lot of cost to the recipients and their ISPs and most people who send non-permission based email annoy an awful lot of people for very little return. I don’t argue that it’s impossible to do in a way that doesn’t cause problems or annoy recipients, but I’ve never seen it done in that way.
      As for co-opt in, are you talking about co-reg? If so, I have long asserted it is possible to do co-reg in a non-abusive way. I’ve just never actually seen it happen. It is possible people do co-reg in a totally non-abusive and non-problematic way, but those aren’t the people that come to me for help because they’re dealing with fallout, and they’re also not the people showing up in my inbox.

  2. Al says

    When I meet me people the street who ask me what my job is, I lie and tell them that I’m a garbage collector.
    With regard to “targeted but non-permission marketing,” I find it to be a magical, wonderfully unobtainable thing, like unicorn meat. Seriously, though, if it’s not permission-based, it’s not targeted properly, because your target includes people who don’t want the mail, and who will complain about it in large numbers.

  3. Al says

    And thanks for the shout out, my friend.

  4. Mike Hillyer says

    I still remember bringing you on a call with one company in Florida, where the owner suddenly said “guys I think we might be spammers”. You showed them the light!

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