There are very few worse things that a SEO specialist can do to simultaneously ruin their reputation and their business than engaging in unscrupulous and indecorous online communication activity. Some of SEO email marketers out there are making the deadly error of deciding to “bend the rules” by trying on the ebony Stetson.
Sneaking in permission-granting on unrelated forms in 5 point type, shop or even the seemingly innocent “I have their business card, that means they want my newsletter” ploys are to be avoided just as much as the following suicidal tactics.
Don’t even think of Craigslist
Craigslist is such a tempting target that some email marketers simply can’t resist trying to pluck its low hanging fruit. At your very fingertips are millions of perfectly geographically and topic targeted email accesses… except that they’re not email addresses but Craigslist’s own forwarders. Another tactic is to reply to Craiglist’s alias emails in order to solicit a response which arrives from the individual’s real email address. However, Craigslist’s attorneys are liberally distributing Cease & Desist orders to anyone trying to “scrape” email addresses from their site and they have highly sophisticated ways of identifying the “scrapers” in order to put them out of business.
As long as you can generate a few million phone verified accounts and have your IP match the geographical location of each ad, then you should be just fine. But if you decide that the cost and complexity of accomplishing that prerequisite is too much trouble, and so you’re going to do it directly: Congratulations, you’re busted! Violators report that Craigslist keeps the attorneys coming at you in waves. The same applies to Facebook, eBay, and other major sites: nothing but legal vehemence, pain and suffering waiting there.
Anonymizers lead straight to your door
Applying email harvesters was the hot setup at the dawn of the online era, but that process has gone the way of the brontosaurus. Harvesting addresses for “batch & blast” emails is not only wholly ineffective and will land you in infinite honeypot traps but will also violate all sorts of federal laws. Don’t believe the snake oil salesmen who are trying to convince you that they can adequately “anonymize” your blast to keep your identity private. Anything anyone does on the internet is traceable. If a federal agency becomes sufficiently motivated to find you, they will.
Take offshore off your radar
Certainly that solicitation to send millions of emails from servers in faraway countries such as Ukraine or Russia is a great way to blast! Right? Wrong! There is no server anywhere on the planet that can’t be tracked by the feds. Worse yet, some of these offshore operators will actually blackmail you with threats of turning you over to the authorities unless you pay them off.
VPS: Very Pathetic Stupidity
Using a VPS or dedicated server for excessive emailing is going to land you in hot water. Too many missives originating from the same IP are going to trigger red flags across cyberspace. Professional email service providers spend an inordinate amount of time and effort in assuring ISPs that they are legitimate, ethical senders. Unless you have the resources to engage in a similar program, you’re going to be out of luck.
Black Hat email marketing does not work, is against the law, and will land you in jail. If that isn’t enough of an incentive to steer a clear path of anyone advocating Black Hat tactics, then you might want to consider them as your future cellmates.
Hidden Unsubscribing text
Making the unsubscribe text invisible by applying the same color as the page’s background. This was a very old trick that allowed placing huge amounts of keyword-enriched text without spoiling user’s experience, but nowadays search engines can easily detect it and blacklist the whole site in no time. And yes, in case you’re wondering, they can detect it on CSS style-sheets as well, so don’t even try.
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An amazing article. It’s nice to read a quality blog post. I think you made some good points in this post.
Got some very good points here and currently looking to increase our email marketing services. Odd thing is you mention Craigslist and one of our competing companies does this daily. They are scraping and emailing literally thousands a day as they only need around 5 – 10 replies out of that automation.
Not that we are doing the same! Just that I became aware of how they are gaining most of their custom by someone working in their offices. Which does question the legality issues as I have even picked up a cyber stalker this year which I have legally hounded off the web. He’s sites have been removed, hosting banned to the point he’s now on the outer rim of cyberspace using India and Russia with hosts that really don’t care about the morality of things.
Which does make me wonder how “the laws” will affect these people as they are likely to continue to create problems for at least the next 5+ years. The same goes for the SPAM world, if someones willing to take your money there is always someone willing to provide.