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Marketing or spamming?

A friend of mine sent me a copy of an email she received, asking if I’d ever heard of this particular sender. It seems a B2B lead generation company was sending her an email telling her AOL was blocking their mail and they had stopped delivery. All she needed to do was click a link to reactivate her subscription.
The mail copy and the website spends an awful lot of time talking about how their mail is accidentally blocked by ISPs and businesses.

Many legitimate businesses like emedia are finding that strict spam filters are causing some of our emails to be miss-classified as junk email even though you opted-in to subscribe to our free service.
For information and support to guarantee your ebulletins are delivered click here

I admit it, I have some bias against companies that spend time and energy pointing out how ISPs are being mean and blocking their mail. Yes, ISPs do screw up and occasionally block mail that probably shouldn’t be blocked. But, in my experience, senders who spend a lot of time focused on the blocks are usually not following best practices.
This company is not only sending mail to people who have no idea who they are and don’t remember subscribing, but they’re also violating CAN SPAM. The mail I was forwarded did not contain an opt-out link. I suppose technically it is a transactional message, but if the mail isn’t being delivered what’s the harm in putting in an opt-out link?
emedia also claims to be “an active member of Return Path’s Sender Score Certified program, the leading third party email certification program.” The IP this email came from isn’t certified and has what I consider to be a low Sender Score. Maybe this is an attempt to clean up to stay certified, that’s possible.
One thing that makes me very, very suspicious of this sender is that to sign up for the mail you need to create an account and provide a password. I have this horrible suspicion that were my friend to try and opt-out, they wouldn’t let her do it until she provided a password. This is a clear CAN SPAM violation.
Nonsense like this drives me totally batty. Their webpage looks like hundreds of other marketing webpages out there. They talk a good game. But they’re sending spam and seem to think the problem is “overly strict spam filters” rather than the fact that people they’re mailing never asked to receive their mail.
I interact with a lot of online marketers and I have a huge amount of respect for many of them. I know how difficult it can be to run a good email marketing program and that sometimes it feels like ISPs are a sender’s worst nightmare. Then I look at marketers like this and I understand why ISPs block so much “legitimate” mail. Even if most of the emediaUSA list is opt-in, some portion of it isn’t and I think it’s totally fair game to block all mail from that source.
There are so many esoteric discussions going on where people argue about frequency, list hygiene, data management, and permission. All of those are just ignoring the fact that there are a lot of marketers sending mail the recipients never opted-in to receive. Botnets might be a problem for the ISPs, just in the total volume of mail that hits their mail servers. But for the average person, it’s that non-botnet “legitimate company” spam in their inbox that is the most visible spam problem.

1 comment

  1. The Proverbial Barry says

    thank you, that is exactly how i and all of my colleagues feel also.

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