As he marched into the valley of death ...
The sad part about this whole debate:
* No one seems to have any accurate numbers either as to the costs of spam or the money made from spam.
Spam costs vary depending on how you calculate the numbers.
When California passed it's anti-spam law last fall, as part of the preamble to the legislation it included a reference to Ferris Research Inc. suggesting the number was in excess of 10 billion dollars in the United States alone.
(To read the full law, including the relevant preambleuse this
Recently, the DMA published a study last month suggesting non-fraudulent unsolicited commercial email was worth over 11 billion in sales last year in the United States.
Personally I have a big question about the DMA study. The total study size was 1,000 and the numbers are extrapolations. Also, the study does not include the negative costs to marketers in spamming.
According to the study e-marketers get better results from sending out good spam (or as the DMA now calls it non-fraudulent unsolicited commercial email) than from sending out solicited commercial email.
"What? Not possible, there must be something wrong." Well, I can't vouch for the study.
To read the news release in DM News, use this
From the news release here are the salient facts:
* 1,000 people were surveyed.
* The surveys respondents reported spending more per order in response to unsolicited commercial emails than solicited commercial emails.
* Based on the survey results, the DMA estimates non-fraudulent unsolicited commercial email is worth 11.7 Billion in online sales.
In October, 2003 the Pew & American Life Internet Project released the results of a major study titled Spam - How it is hurting email and degrading life on the Internet
In this survey, 2,200 respondents were surveyed. Out of this group only 7% reported buying anything from sites advertised in unsolicited commercial email. Apparently the percentage was too small to give further results. This survey was accurate within +/- 2.3%.
For the details read Some emailers pursue offers from unsolicited email
Even if I take the DMA numbers at face value, based on the Ferris Report, it looks like the whole exercise is close to, if not a zero sum game.
Meaning, even though the individual spammer may make money, the total cost to the online community equals or outweighs the individual income and this in part explains why spammers are so vilified.
* Part of the problem is people can't agree on a definition. The big trade associations like the DMA have taken the position spam is dishonest unsolicited commercial email. The grass roots argue spam is unsolicited bulk email, with the most extreme position being spam is any email I receive which I did not request.
This debate on definitions is reflected in this discussion.
What is significant? On March 9th, Yahoo!, Earthlink, Microsoft and AOL filed suit. To read the actual court documents use this
(Look under spam litigation to see the actual court documents. One thing of note is bringing the claims against John Does and then using the court process to ferret out the actual defendants.)
Okay common knowledge given the pr
On March 10th, the FTC issued its call for comment on the Spam Regs and the various reports it has to file with Congress under the Act. To read the press release and related documents, use this
On March 11, 2004 BtoBonline.com reported that some of the majors were placing their email marketing campaigns on hold under the headline ongoing spam concerns hamper e-marketing efforts
The story was subsequently picked up on March 12, 2004 by Marketing Wonk under the headline Big Brands Avoiding Email Marketing For Now
Does this mean the majors are becoming concerned about the illegality of opt-out email marketing, as the Internet access services have:
* the right to establish access use policies prohibiting use of their systems to transmit, route or deliver unsolicited bulk email to subscribers; and,
* the ability to protect their interests, if they can show damages arising from violations of their access use policies, through civil action under the Federal Computer Crime & Abuse Act (and similar State laws)?
The stories in BtoB and Marketing Wonk merely reported the decision, but it will be interesting to see how this develops.
This development may also be important for email marketers with "opt-in lists," small, large or huge, either unconfirmed or confirmed, who do not have affirmative consent (there being a difference between the marketers understanding of opt-in and the definition of affirmative consent).
The bottom line?
Email marketing, if done properly can be an integral part of your overall marketing efforts.
(For those who are interested, the Internet Engineering Task Force published a protocol in April 2001, number 3098, titled "How to Advertise Responsibly Using E-Mail and Newsgroups or - how NOT to $$$$$ MAKE ENEMIES FAST! $$$$$ T. Gavin, D. Eastlake 3rd, S. Hambridge [ April 2001 ]"
. The link is an ftp link. Worth the read as a good starting point.)
At the same time, spamming can not be part of your efforts. Even if you can make significant money, the costs to the overall community and the damage to your reputation outweigh the benefits, unless you like living as an outlaw. Then get used to being hunted and pursued.
For email marketers who reside within the US or who market into the US and rely heavily on email marketing for their bread and butter, as well as email service providers, internet access providers and consumers, you want to review the FTC's call for comment and file comment to ensure your interests are heard.
You can find the FTC's call here
Excuse the pitch about making your voice heard. Debates like this have value, but telling your stories to the regulatory agencies have far greater significance.
Especially since the FTC is not only calling for comment on proposed areas of regulation, but also on the various reports the FTC has to file with Congress under the Act. So, if you have a horror story to tell about how the level of spam in your mail box has gone up and why you want the United States to go to an opt-in law, (even if you know passing a law will not make a big difference), then now is the time to make your voice heard.
(Personally, I am neutral on the issue - I am simply urging people to make their voice heard.)
Trusting this helps,