Bulk Email or Opt-in Email?

A comparison of the pros and cons of unsolicited commercial email vis a vis opt-in email.

by Jim Daniels

A faithful reader and customer wrote me a letter this past week. In it, he described his frustrating situation. As he was not the first to write about this particular dilemma, I felt I should address it.

Being new to internet marketing, with a limited marketing budget, this fellow had been utilizing many low cost advertising resources. These consisted mostly of free classified sites and newsgroups. As most marketers know, this form of advertising can be very time consuming and the results somewhat discouraging.

His question went something like this…

“Instead of making sales and getting leads, I seem to be getting more and more unsolicited email. Most of the offers tell me bulk email works much better than other forms of internet marketing. I’m thinking of trying it, are there any reasons why I shouldn’t?”

Okay, just the facts…

There are basically two types of direct email marketing.

1. “Unsolicited Bulk Email”
2. “Opt-in” Direct Email

1. “Unsolicited Bulk Email”

This is the practice of transmitting mass quantities of email to large lists of “unqualified” email addresses.

This practice in itself is a very controversial subject. You must be very careful when considering using bulk email to market your wares on the internet.

Why? Let’s just say your reputation is at stake.

Unsolicited bulk email is frowned upon by many internet citizens. You may have heard this practice of sending unsolicited bulk email referred to as “spamming.” (Yes, the name comes from the famous comedy skit “Spam! Spam! Spam!” by Monty Python.) In the online world, spamming means sending unsolicited email directly to a list of unsuspecting email addresses or newsgroups.

Just why is bulk email so popular? Simple. It’s far cheaper than traditional bulk postage mail. The costs associated with traditional bulk mailing can cut deeply into potential profits immediately. Postage costs alone can break the bank. Bulk email is very cheap.

So why not try it?

The simple fact is, unsolicited bulk email is considered bad “netiquette” by many netizens. If you send unsolicited email to addresses that do not want commercial email, you can get into more trouble than you would expect.

What kind of trouble?

A. Since a large number of internet citizens DO NOT approve of unsolicited email and WILL complain to your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

B. Many ISP’s will discontinue your account when they get complaints from angry recipients of your unsolicited bulk email.

Does sending your ad to thousands of unsuspecting addresses really work anyway? Do you really get any genuinely interested leads mixed in with all those flames? Sure you can. Are they enough to offset all the negative factors of bulk email? NO.

But hey, it’s your business and it’s your decision. If you want to play it safe though, you should consider the next type of direct email marketing.

2. “Opt-In” Direct Email

“Opt-In” Direct Email is the practice sending commercial email to recipients that HAVE approved of commercial email. If you really want to try bulk email marketing but aren’t up to the rigors of unsolicited bulk email, consider hiring a company that specializes in direct email or using list management software such as iContact Pro.

In addition to advertising in targeted ezines such as my BizWeb Gazette, you can also “rent” Opt-In Direct Email lists. These opt-in lists are targeted email lists which offer marketers a “politically correct” way to reach their target audience on the net. Not only will your offer be sent to a targeted list, you won’t have to worry about flames and ISP cancellation. All recipients have “opted in” to receive offers like yours.

Although this targeted direct email marketing can be more costly than unsolicited bulk email marketing, it is far more effective. Here are some excellent resources for targeted Opt-In lists:

MeMail, Advertising.com, Bulletmail, Targ-It, E-Target, Htmail, PostMaster Direct, The Direct Email List Source

Article by Jim Daniels of JDD Publishing. Jim\'s site has helped 1000\'s of regular folks profit online. Visit Jim at http://www.bizweb2000.com and http://www.make-a-living-online.com.

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