A few weeks ago, at the encouragement of a friend, I joined a Zoom session with a bunch of marketing folks that meet every month. Previous topics have looked interesting, but my calendar didn’t allow me to attend until this one.
The subject this month? “How to improve your cold email outreach.” It was as shady as you might expect.
I found three things about it to be very interesting.
First, the speaker shared all of the ways to get around spam filters. He talked about using secondary domains, different email addresses, and other tools to evade spam filters.
Second, he was clear that people should stay inside the law. He referenced the CAN-SPAM Act, which helps to prevent spam, and taught the group ways to send lots of spam without getting into trouble with the FTC.
Third, surprisingly, the audience loved it. This was a group of marketers and agencies from across the country, and they were thrilled to gain such “helpful advice”. It was very sad.
Toward the end, he almost realized what he was promoting when he said “I send thousands of these emails every quarter, and maybe gain one client.” He made it clear that he was willing to waste the time of thousands of people in the hopes of gaining one client, and the others on the call agreed that it was a good trade-off.
This was a group that seemed professional and respectful, but this session showed that they’re anything but that. To explain why, I’ll share a few thoughts from this post from Seth Godin nearly a decade ago.
Spam is commercial, unsolicited, unanticipated, irrelevant messaging, sent in bulk. It’s the email you didn’t ask to get.
Based on that idea, this is clearly spam.
Some spammers will tell you that all you need to do is opt out. But of course, the very problem with spam is that it requires action on the part of the recipient, action that can’t possibly scale (how many times a day should we have to opt out, communicating with businesses we never asked to hear from in the first place?)
The speaker covered that, too. “People can just unsubscribe.” True, but that doesn’t begin to justify this kind of behavior.
Just because you know someone’s email address or phone number, just because you have figured out how to automate a captcha or hack a discussion board doesn’t mean you’re welcome there.
They shared great ways to harvest email address to spam, and did their best to make it sound legit.
You can work to make the internet a better place, or you can milk it for everything you can and let someone else clean up your mess. I think it’s pretty clear which direction is a better way to go.