Using e-mail is probably the most effective marketing technique online. However, if you use it wrong, your business can be shut down.
Let me start with the story of someone who had trouble with his host from sending too many e-mail messages. He bought software that collects e-mail addresses from the Web and sends e-mail to those addresses. According to the software vendor, using the program wouldn't cause trouble with his host. However, a few days after he started using the software, his Web site was shut down without notice. Despite what the software vendor had said, this process is how unsolicited bulk e-mail (spam) is sent. Most hosting companies have a zero-tolerance policy against spam. Once they receive enough complaints from your e-mail recipients, your site will be shut down in a matter of minutes. Then you'll have trouble getting a new host. So, don't spam. It's not worth the trouble.
There are companies who make their own opt-in e-mail lists and rent them to you. Because people opted in to receive third parties' advertisements, using these lists isn't supposed to put you in trouble. (Hence the name "safe list.") If the recipients are not being paid to read the messages, renting safe lists is worth trying. But, "safe" doesn't mean "profitable." You have to calculate the profits and find the lists that work for YOUR business. Unfortunately, some people sell spammers' lists as safe lists. Even if you aren't aware of it, using phony safe lists is still spamming. Your host will shut your site down. Be careful when you use somebody else's mailing lists, especially when you see advertisements for safe lists in spam e-mail messages.
Abusing Your Opt-in List
The safest and most profitable mailing list is your own opt-in list. Depending on the size of your list, you will generate a lot of income every time you use it. But don't abuse your list. Bombing subscribers with advertisements triggers lots of "unsubscribe" requests. You can send special promotions (advertisement-only newsletter) or include advertisements in every issue, but you should limit the amount of ads, such as not sending special promotion e-mail more often than you send your regular newsletter. Remember, your subscribers opted-in for information, not ads.
© February, 2003