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E-mail Marketing with UCEs (unsolicited commercial email)

Q. Thanks for some interesting reading, the Internet does not enjoy "spam" and neither do we, but can you enlighten me on sending UCE to targeted website mailto addresses (i.e. contactus@, info@, enquiries@ etc)? Thank you. Regards -- Cush

Advice by Nach Maravilla
Publisher, PowerHomeBiz.com

A. Dear Cush,

When you say, "sending UCE to targeted websites," you have already accepted that you are sending a UCE; and anything that is not asked for is unsolicited and therefore is considered "Spam."

I advise you to tread carefully in this. What for you may simply be an attempt to get the word out about your business may backfire at you. You could hurt the reputation of your business, lose your site if your host terminate your account, Internet access cut off by the ISP. Worse, you could be held legally liable as more and more people are going to court to make spammers pay.

The danger lies in how the recipient accepts your UCE. The recipient may be like those who support the "SpamCops," a group whose mission is to eradicate spam and make life miserable to those who send it (and they are good at what they do!). They define spam as any email sent to anyone who did not ask for it, no matter what the content maybe. They argue that even if Yahoo, for example sends you an email requesting to partner with your site - they consider that spam since you did not invite Yahoo to email you. Of course, you and I won't agree to that but they insist that it is. So, we leave them to their own beliefs.

But going back to your request for enlightenment, let us use common sense.

I believe that if you have a website of your own, you would place email addresses like, as you said, info@; contact@,enquiries@ for specific purposes. You would like to have your website visitors send you an email to info@____ to request information about your product or service, contact@___ to get in touch with your customer service or you personally for anything specific to your website's content, enquiries@____, for maybe what ever they want to know further than what they already saw.

Now, if you received emails in these addresses containing long messages of products from nowhere, how would you feel? Instead of hearing from people who are interested in advertising in your site in your advertising@domainname.com address, you receive unwanted emails. And multiply that 100 times (or the number of newbies who were led to believe that your email address is fair game). Would you now tell yourself that those senders are sending emails to targeted recipient websites and would therefore welcome those emails?

Receiving UCE's in one of these addresses is sometimes tolerable. But due to the proliferation of email harvesters who sell harvested emails to unknowing newbie entrepreneurs, it is possible to receive hundreds of UCEs in one email address coming from different sources. And that would be VERY irritating. And COSTLY, as your resource transfer to the domains used increases at your web hosting company.

Senders of unsolicited commercial emails resort to so many defensive notes in their emails. You may have received some of them. Messages like, "you are receiving this email because you are in a purchased mailing list; you have posted in my FFA classified ad; you have communicated with me before. 

The most popular one is: This is not Spam. This message is sent in compliance of the new e-mail bill: SECTION 301. Per Section 301, Paragraph (a)(2)(C) of S. 1618,Further transmissions to you by the sender of this email may be stopped at no cost to you by sending a reply to this e-mail address with the word 'REMOVE' in the subject line."

People sending this "legal disclaimer" do not even know what they are talking about. And it just makes them all the more laughable. The Anti-Spam Bill filed by Rep Goodlatte in the House introduced on 3/14/2001 has not been approved into law. The Senate version has a different number, and it is the 'Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2001', or the `CAN SPAM Act of 2001'. This is Senate Bill S.630. That Bill defines UCE as:

(17) Unsolicited commercial electronic mail message-

(A) IN GENERAL- The term `unsolicited commercial electronic mail message' means any commercial electronic mail message that is sent to a recipient--

(i) without prior affirmative consent or implied consent from the recipient; or

(ii) to a recipient who, subsequent to the establishment of affirmative or implied consent under subparagraph (i), has expressed, in a reply submitted pursuant to section 5(a)(3), or in response to any other opportunity the sender may have provided to the recipient, a desire not to receive commercial electronic mail messages from the sender.

(B) EXCLUSION- Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), the term `unsolicited commercial electronic mail message' does not include an electronic mail message sent by or on behalf of one or more lawful owners of copyright, patent, publicity, or trademark rights to an unauthorized user of protected material notifying such user that the use is unauthorized and requesting that the use be terminated or that permission for such use be obtained from the rights holder or holders.

The UCE story may never end. One thing I am sure is that 99 percent of it, the UCE is never read farther beyond the subject line before it is clicked to the trash box and deleted. Many senders of UCEs get burned and suspended by their ISPs. Particularly if you have to resort to camouflaging your return email address so people cannot flame you. So, if you were sending these UCE's -- what good would it do to you? I don't see the point of sending an offer to people yet hiding email addresses or forging their email headers.

At PowerHomeBiz.com, we sometimes tolerate UCEs. But not if the person sends his email to ALL our email addresses, particularly those created for specific business purposes (advertise, partnerships, purchase of e-book, etc). That is when we take these steps: (1) report to the ISP; (2) report to the web host; (3) file a report for the person to be included in the Realtime BlackHole List http://mail-abuse.org 

We don't tolerate spam. Some people I know have even gone to the extent of calling the sender and giving them an earful to stop sending their spam mesages. I don't think you would welcome people calling you to shout at you and demand that you stop spamming their email addresses. If that happens to me, I will have many sleepless nights wondering if my site is still up or whether I still have Internet connection the next morning. 

Sending UCEs is not worth it.

I hope I have given you some enlightenment on the subject.

Perhaps you can check out the following reference books:

Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends, and Friends into Customers by Seth Godin, Don Peppers

E-mail Business Strategies & Dozens of Other Great Ways to Take Advantage of the Internet (Revised & Updated for 2001) by Phil Gurian

Good Luck !

About the PowerHomeBiz.com Guide: 

Nach Maravilla is the Publisher of Power Homebiz Guides. He has over thirty years experience in sales and marketing of various products, which covered as he jokingly describes, "from toothpicks to airplanes"  He also had extensive experience in International trading and he always excelled in special promotional ideas for  retail outlets. 

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of PowerHomeBiz.com. Users should not treat the Guide's response as legal, accounting, or professional advice as all answers are intended to be general in nature. Such advice can only be properly given by qualified professionals who are fully aware of a user's specific geographical areas or circumstances, such as an attorney or accountant.