UCE: Unsolicited Commercial Email

Scam: You can make millions by sending out UCE (spam):
Internet ScamBusters #2

Welcome to the second issue of Internet ScamBusters! We wish you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 1996.

The response to the first issue has been tremendous. We really appreciate all of your feedback and suggestions. And before we get started with this issue’s scam, we wanted to share a comment and a question about the last scam on domain names that we thought you’d find interesting.

Comment: “I just learned that my “giraffe” domain name only applies to giraffe.com. There can also be giraffe.org, giraffe.edu, etc. Maybe other people don’t understand that also.”

Answer: You’re right. And there can also be giraffes.com, giraffe1.com, girafe.com, etc. That’s why we believe that many people make much too big a deal about domain name registration.

(We’re going to hear a lot of disagreement on this!) All of these problems will probably arise over time, and there is little you can do about them.

Question: “I did a search at InterNIC’s WhoIs site (http://www.networksolutions.com/) on 5star and fivestar. It looks to me like 5star is NOT taken but when I spell out fivestar, it is and the .com address is for FiveStar Marketing with a domain name of FiveStar with 5star.com as part of the address. Would you check this out and see if this is how YOU read the info on the upper right of FiveStar Marketing’s screen?”

Answer: Unfortunately, neither is available. Redo your searches for 5star.com and fivestar.com and you’ll see this clearly (rather than just 5star and fivestar).

In other words, the solution is that you need to do your InterNIC search using the domain name you want to check out (such as 5star) followed by .com. You’ll get very strange results if you leave off the .com (or .org).

OK. Let’s look at the scam for this issue.

SCAM: You Can Make Millions
By Sending Out ‘Bulk’ Email

Let’s start out by defining “bulk email.” Bulk email is promoted as the electronic equivalent of direct mail, where you can send your electronic message to a large number of recipients via email on the Internet.

Proponents of bulk email say that there are huge advantages to using bulk email for your marketing. They point out that the costs of bulk email are almost trivial compared to the costs of sending out direct mail. And they say that it is much faster than other forms of marketing and advertising: recipients get your message almost instantly, rather than having to wait days, weeks or months. Some claim that the response rate can be higher than other forms of advertising. They often promise that bulk email “assures a 100% readership.” And finally, they point out that it is “environmentally friendly” since no paper is used.”

And there are many people who will tell you that sending out bulk email is the road to riches. After all, they claim that since the cost of sending out your email is virtually zero, you can reach hundreds of thousands–or millions–of potential prospects for free. And since some of these prospects will be interested in your offer, you can make millions of dollars by sending out this bulk email.

No way!

Here’s an example of this scam: In a recent, otherwise reasonably good on-line marketing article we requested, the author writes “what follows below are 10 ideas I have found essential when marketing on-line.” Number 3 is “Send Bulk Email.” The author writes:

“Bulk email is an excellent avenue to put your advertising message right into the hands of consumers. In fact, it is the only way I know of to do what I call “Active” advertising on-line.”

Here’s an additional example from recent promotions we received:

After you capture “the name and email address of each lead you can follow up and close the sale. Soon you will accumulate email addresses and you can mass mail to them or remail to them for free or even sell those lists just like any other lists of prospects.”

What are the consequences of sending bulk email? At best you alienate the people you want to reach. At worst, you can create some very serious problems for yourself and your business!

Let’s look at a few of the reasons that this advice is so far off-base.

1) Many people on the Internet hate getting unsolicited email (sometimes called “umail”). They feel very strongly about this. They believe that unsolicited email violates “netiquette,” the rules for being a good net citizen. Enraging and completely turning off a significant proportion of your prospects is not a good marketing strategy!

2) It just plain doesn’t work. There are countless examples of companies who have sent out bulk email, and not only did they not get the results they hoped for, they also ruined their Internet reputations for other Internet promotions, and had numerous other problems as a result (see the examples below).

There many lists which are aimed at publicizing offensive behavior with the hope that people who learn about it will punish the offenders.

You don’t want to get on this list! (Many product boycotts have started with this list. You can read about companies who have been successfully boycotted, as well as their apologies to the Internet community. You can even learn about how some companies were considered so offensive that they “were forced to make contributions to charities or build large home page data sets for social agencies.”)

3) Some of these people who become enraged will do more than simply not buy your products. If they are polite, they may just email your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and ask that your account be closed. (An ISP is a company that rents connections to the Internet so you can access the Internet.) One complaint won’t cause an ISP to close your account – several hundred probably will. Or they may request that your Web pages be removed from access to the Internet.

It is very difficult to conduct a successful Internet marketing campaign without email or a Web site!

If they are not polite, they may “flame” you, which means they send nasty or derisive email. Often, flaming involves sending hundreds, or even thousands of these hate messages. (If you’re flamed, don’t respond negatively. It will only make the situation worse.)

Or the enraged person may send you thousands of “mail bombs,” which are very large files which are attached to email. Mail bombs are designed to overwhelm the computer sites where the offenders have their email accounts so that the offenders lose their access to the Internet.

If that’s not enough, these people can get seriously nasty. For example, they may find out your social security number and credit card numbers, post them on a bulletin board or somewhere on the Internet, and suggest that people use them to “get even” with you.

In other words, they may do things to make your life quite miserable.

Needless to say: Don’t send bulk email!

4) Many users will filter out email from people or companies that offend them with “bozo filters,” which are part of most common email programs. Bozo filters allow users to automatically delete email that comes from the email address of someone that the user considers a “bozo” and doesn’t want to be bothered with. If you’re defined as a “bozo” by the recipients of your email, they won’t even see other email you send them–your email immediately will go into the electronic trash. People who send unsolicited email are often automatically considered “bozos.”

5) Quite obviously, there are much better ways to achieve the results you are seeking.

IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP

Don’t send unsolicited email. And don’t rent, buy or email someone else’s email mailing list. Ever!