Is That Spam?

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Email Marketing


We recently received a guest post from Elizabeth Chasse, Marketing Supervisor at BlumShapiro in Connecticut. Liz was pondering the existential nature of spam, and we thought this might be a good two-part post. In part 1, we’ll give Liz’s thoughts, and we’d love your comments. In part 2, David Fowler, our Chief Deliverability and Privacy Officer, will offer his thoughts.

Liz writes:

I recently attended a seminar where presenters were talking about growing an email list for a company newsletter/email distribution list.

When I asked if they were “opting people in,” the response was an astounding “No.” Followed by, “…we have an opt-out link, which meets CAN-SPAM policies – besides, what we are sending is educational, so it is not spam.”

I thought about this, and have been pondering: what qualifies as spam?

  • Do you determine that based on the content you are sending?
  • Or do your readers (who may or may not want to receive your email) decide what is or is not spam to them?
  • Or is spam most simply “unwanted email messages” as defined by the CAN-SPAM Act?

The CAN-SPAM Act outlines what qualifies as spam, as well as several items you should/should not do to comply with the Act:

  • Identify the message as an ad
  • Opt-out – Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you/Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  • Return address – Tell recipients where you’re located
  • Don’t use false or misleading head er information or deceptive subject lines

But just as importantly, each organization needs to understand that all marketing activities, even something as seemingly non-affiliated as how you develop your email list, portrays your company brand.

So here are the two key questions to ask inside your organization:

  • How are your list-building activities portraying your brand?
  • And – is this how you want your company represented?

If there’s a disconnect between the answers to those questions, you may want to look to your list building practices and reevaluate or recalibrate.


Thanks for the post, Liz. David Fowler will have an Is That Spam? Part 2 for us shortly.

What do you think? Leave a comment below, and join the conversation.