Is it email marketing or spamming?

Have you ever been in a situation where you were able to get a hold of a local organization’s email address database and wanted to send out email marketing material to their group? Would that be considered smart marketing or spamming? That is a great question brought up on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum. A new lawn care business owner asked “here is the question. I am currently working part time at a church and have been told when the new budget goes into effect in March I am going to be eliminated. So for the last two months I have been frantically looking for a job with no luck and being unable to collect unemployment due to working for a “nonprofit”. So I have decided to go back into the lawn care business. I am curious as to if anyone has ever used e-mail marketing.

I have access to an email address address database. I currently work for a church with over 4,000 members 90 percent of which have e-mail addresses in our data base. How effective would this be and would it be worth the many many hours of work that it would take to build the potential customer database that would be required?

I wouldn’t use any of the database without permission. I actually spoke with the church administrator today and she told me that she could allow me to use the entire database for any business endeavors that I would like to try but she would want to review anything going to the members and eliminate a few of the members from the list before anything went out. Even more amazing is they have offered starting in December to allow me to place a 4″ wide by 2″ tall ad in the weekly newsletter as well as a half page flier that could be put out with other news on Wednesday nights during the Church Family Night Supper. Not only would I be allowed to do these things but have also got permission to use their copiers and such to print and cut the fliers for usage.

As far as the spam part of this. I would include an opt out link within the e-mails so that anyone that would not want to be a part of the list could unsubscribe immediately. To pull more potential customers in I am thinking of offering 25 dollars off the first monthly statement for anyone that signs a 1 year contract. 15 dollars off for a non contract. Or maybe a free gutter cleaning or something of that nature. I am not going to be sending out e-mails daily or even weekly. I am thinking possibly once monthly to try to attract business until I get to my 40 - 45 yard goal.

From what I understand it would not be considered spam if it is a legitimate offer from a legitimate company. What will get you in trouble for “spamming” is trying to deceive or tricking the person receiving the email. You must not filter out your isp. You can’t use subject lines like ‘Hey remember me’ or ‘I can’t believe you forgot my birthday’ or anything like that that could be misleading to any one. Two: you need to send it from your company name at your company’s website domain. Three: leave a real address and phone number that potential clients can truly contact you at that reassures most people that it is a legitimate offer and is not a spam. Never ask for any billing information to be sent by e-mail. Put in the e-mail that if you would like to receive a quote to contact the number listed.

Most of the people that I would be e-mailing would know me personally. From either being a person that has worked with a company that they do business with or from the church. I am not buying a unknown list of email addresses of people that are way out of my area or would not be tangible.”

What a fascinating topic and it brought up very different responses. One member said “it sounds like you are walking, or running into this with way faster than the normal guy would. Why wouldn’t you use those list’s to your advantage?

If you have permission to use those e-mail list’s, USE THEM. Basically free advertising, come up with a standard page and mass e-mail it, and see what happens.”

Another had an opposing view and shared “this may just be my pet peave but I refuse to give business to or any affiliated business that spams me. I am quite sure there are also legalities in using such a list. I have no doubt you are allowed to use them at work but if you take them to use for your business you are essentially stealing the addresses for your own gain which again is just bad business if you ask me. I would be honest and ask if you can use them at the least. If they say no then there is your answer.”

As we see, this topic can go either way when it comes to public opinion on it. Take these thoughts into consideration if you ever find yourself in a situation where you can reach out to a database of email contacts and know the results can vary widely.

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