Acceptable E-mail Promotions
Article by: Tony L. Callahan
Whenever the subject of commercial e-mail comes up, some one invariably screams "SPAM!" Let me make it clear, I by no means endorse the use of unsolicited commercial e-mail (UCE) as a tool for promoting your web businesses. It is not the intent of this article to discuss the legalities of UCE. The entire issue of UCE is being debated by the United States Congress and the European Union as well as various national, state and local legislatures. New legislation is put forward on an almost daily basis. It is not likely that there will be a satisfactory definition of, let alone a solution for, the issues surrounding UCE anytime soon. If it is your desire to pursue this line of discussion, I suggest you consult a legal expert.
So is there an acceptable way to use e-mail in your web promotion campaigns? The answer is a resounding YES! In order to properly use e-mail in your web promotion campaigns it is necessary to obtain the recipient's permission before sending the e-mail. There are several ways to do this, but the most common is the opt-in mailing list. Simply put, ask your web site visitors to join your mailing list. Equally important, you must also give each recipient the opportunity to cancel their membership in your mailing list at any time. Provide them with an automated means of subscribing or unsubscribing. There are several robot programs available to accomplish this task. Many, such as Topica, are even free for limited use.
Once your mailing list is compiled, do not inundate your readers with e-mail. There is a difference between being informative and being a pest. If your readers start to feel overwhelmed by your mailings, they will begin to ignore them. Worse yet, they may stop doing business with you all together. My research indicates that every two to four weeks is sufficient to remind your readers who you are without overwhelming them with junk e-mail.
Properly applied commercial e-mail can be a productive, cost effective component of an overall web promotion campaign. It is incumbent on the web business person to monitor the on going political and legal debate and to be sure to use commercial e-mail responsibly. If you are in doubt, seek legal advise from an expert. An excellent resource for keeping up with the debate, as well as a means of influencing it, is the nonprofit Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail.
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