Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"SPAM" disguised

You visit a website. On the side you see a link for something or another that you think may be interesting to know about. You fill out the info with your email address included. You may not know it but you are now on their email list.

Internet marketing people use this technique all of the time. They offer something of perceived value (usually an ebook) so you click the link. You then find yourself on a page that has a short form on it, usually just asking for your name and email address though there could be other fields to fill out. You put in your first name and your email address.

In the inernet marketing industry you have landed on a "squeeze page". It is named that because they will "squeeze" your email address from you. This is also called a "landing page."

Whatever they call it I bet many newbies and even experienced web surfers will not be prepared to be put on a mailing list. You will often see a message from the website owner as soon as you refresh your email client. If it says "You need to click this link to receive further messages from us" then you are in the "double opt-in system" provided by the website's "autoresponder" system.

The double opt-in protects you from being spammed after someone puts your email address into the system from the website as a joke or if they just despise you. ;P It also protects the website owner to some degree from accusations of spamming though people can always complain and, unfortunately, some hosts will automatically suspend your account no matter what if they suspect are spamming. At least the owner sould be able to point to the fact that you signed up for the messages.

Autoresponders are very cool and valuable assets for just about any website.

But here is my problem. Not all systems are set up for the double opt in technique. I am seeing a growing trend of website owners not taking the double opt-in route. This is disturbing.

Today I saw a form that said I would be entered into a drawing for a prize from the site's sponsors. I am not sure who were the sponsors (ebook purveyors?) but I wanted to see if I would be sent a double opt-in message.

I was not.

I did contact the owner and asked if I would be on their email list. I received an immediate response that I would get messages but that I could easily opt out.

That's not enough in my book. I think all websites must employ the double opt-in method or be subject to fines like any other spammers. Like I said earlier, I am not against autoresponders and I use them for my own websites.

We have a right to insist that we fully understand that we will be getting advertisments dumped into our email boxes before we hand over our email address.

It's also good business for the website owner. Disrespecting people will often result in a severe case of assbiteitis.

Greg Cryns

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