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Why SPAM fails

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Apologies to any multi-level marketers, lead generation specialists or other senders of unsolicited commercial email (SPAM).

With so many legitimate ways to reach potential customers, I am constantly amazed by the persistence of organisations that continue to use SPAM as a marketing strategy.

This article asks a few questions and outlines my thoughts on why it is the least effective form of marketing, how it harms any brands that utilise it and introduces legal and other risks to business.

So what impact does SPAM have on the recipient?

  1. Loss of productivity – nobody wants to have to sort through their inbox just to find legitimate email in amongst unsolicited marketing
  2. Aggravation – opening email which is clearly unsolicited and poorly targeted is frustrating and annoying
  3. Polarisation – any business or individual who would purchase, scrape or otherwise illegitimately obtain your email address with no prior relationship and without your consent is disrespectful and harms the brand being represented
  4. Distrust – if the email is unsolicited and prompts the recipient to click a link or reply, it is akin to phishing, malware and other unpleasant experiences, so it is little wonder that most people delete it
A web developer shaping a new app

Why do business continue to engage in SPAM?

  1. It appears to be a cheap way of reaching people – on the face of it, this would seem correct, however when considering the legal, brand and operational impacts, the benefits definitely do not outweigh the risks.
  2. The purported size of their database – it sounds impressive to have X million potential leads. The reality, of course is that these are ‘poisoned wells’ and anyone in their database will be fed up with SPAM, will have requested removal and is likely on a DO NOT CALL or other list to prevent the use. When we combine this with the fact that many of the addresses will be non-functional or duplicates, the real value of their database is limited.
  3. Ignorance of the law and a belief that this is a legitimate practice – the collection, harvesting, use and sale of email addresses for the purposes of unsolicited commercial email are unlawful in Australia and punishable by heavy (and uncapped) civil penalties.
Getting what we pay for

How can we combat and avoid these practices?

  1. Technology – we can create an account on spamcop and forward email and header information to them so that these messages will get blocked
  2. Ethical Sourcing – engage with marketing organisations that:
    • do not trade in unlawful lists (such as those obtained by harvesting)
    • respect Opt-Out and DoNotCall lists
    • comply with the law and codes of practice
  3. Utilise other (better) forms of marketing – targeted ads via services such as Google or Microsoft Ads etc
  4. Reject SPAM and those who engage in it – if you receive spam and feel so inclined, contact (ideally by phone) the company / brand behind it and make your position known. They may be unaware of the implications and impact on the public and their Brand. Using LinkedIn to find the owner of the business can be quite effective.
Some intrepid spam hunters at work

Here are some links to spam fighting information (Noting US based content):

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