Most merchants forget the trade and use only the tricks. This aptly describes the scenario of e-mail marketing in current times. Although marketing through the e-mail opens up vast opportunities to showcase a product or service, unethical and abusive use of this medium has become a norm today and, in turn, has resolved in negative publicity.
Commercial email is beneficial to businesses as well as consumers if used in a proper way. But some companies and individuals have aborted this medium to such an extent that today almost all commercial emails are termed as spam. For this reason, bulk marketing can do more harm to your business than good.
One of the most common types of unethical e-mail marketing is sending spam or junk e-mails. When most of the senders of these messages believe that they are actually creating awareness about the product or service, the receivers generally delete them before giving them a second glance. But not all e mail marketing is spam. If you have subscribed to a newsgroup on a website, you have probably joined an opt-in mailing list which is perfectly safe.
What does sending spam mean to your business?
Henry Ford once famously said that business that makes nothing but money is poor business. So if spammers are looking at email marketing as a lucrative option in the long run are in for a rude shock. Instead, they are part of a deteriorating business which can find itself in serious problem for sending unsolicited mail. While spammers generally term spam as bulk marketing, mass marketing, direct marketing or opt in marketing, the receivers of such marketing emails simply call them spam mails or junk mails. Although many take this infiltration of privacy lying down, the more vociferous of their ilk voice out their grievances to their respect ISPs. And this could well be the beginning of the end of your business. ISPs would not think twice before banning you from reaching out to their customers, not only because you are an annoyance to them, but also because you occupy precious bandwidth. The consequences could vary from your email addresses being blocked from myriad email networks to search engines banning your websites from their networks.
There are no two ways about spamming being an unethical business practice. Buying and selling whole lists of email addresses, too is immoral. Websites offering to sell such lists that that receivers have willingly exposed their addresses to receive commercial unsolicited mails. But if you really want your business to work, steer clear of such pseudo claims.
What is ethical email marketing?
So, is there no way of legally or ethically marketing your material through emails? There sure is. Ethical marketing consists in sending marketing emails only to those addresses who have been your customers at some point of time, or who have requested material from you directly. A good marketing practice also consists in not sending such mails very often. Respect a person's privacy and immediately stop sending messages to those who wish not to receive them. Permission based email marketing is a good option for businesses wherein commercial mail is sent only to those who have allowed to receive information and offers on products and services. These fair practices need to be followed not merely for the moral values implicated, but because they are practices that would really work in favor of your business.
Some companies take refuge under the circumstance of allowing an option of opting out in case one wishes not to receive such commercial messages. But the bottom line is that this option is more often than not, complicated to be applied by all and sundry. A number of users are unmindful to the fact that they have access to such a thing.
Coping up with spam
On the receiver's part it is important not to reply to spammers. It will only encourage them to send you more such messages. There is another option of sending the entire spam message to anti spamming email addresses which take note of the fact and act in accordance. The best way to stop someone from sending you spam email is to report it to your ISP. They would be more than happy to block them from sending across spam messages.
All said and done, there is a thin line between ethical and unethical practices in email marketing. A genuine business needs to walk this line without losing out on the opportunity provided by email marketing and at the same time respecting peoples' right to privacy.