Is your email address public?

I had an interesting (!) conversation with a guy that I had just met last week. We were talking about email marketing and I have to admit up front that he irked me.

Why I hear you say? Because I’m normally so mild-mannered.

I’ll tell you why.

He emails about 8,000 people on a monthly basis. He said that “a girl in the office” got the local directories, golden pages and started inputting details into a spreadsheet which later became the email database.

I practically jumped off the chair and said ‘no way!’. He argued that if your email address was in the public domain, then surely it’s okay to send a mail.

I informed him of the Data Commissioner (He typically emails Irish businesses) and said there is a law against that. He said ‘yeah but is it really the law?’.

So I won’t tell you what I said to him, (I’m too polite on this Tuesday morning!). So I’m looking to you to help me out.

I’m meeting him again this Thursday and I promise to be more composed. I have my own ideas but that would bias the conversation.

Can you help me to help him? If you were me, what advice would you give him when you see on Thursday?

About the Author

Denise FayI'm Denise Fay, an international marketing communications advisor. For over 16 years, I've been helping corporations and business owners to promote themselves by communicating the right message with the right audience. They achieve clarity, leads and sales. I'm also an award-winning author, engaging speaker, entrepreneur, business owner and mum of two, I have written copy that has won awards, won clients and most importantly, built relationships. Because at the end of the day, it all comes down to how we relate to others. And writing great copy that engages with your reader is well worth its weight in gold. You too can find wealth in your relationships. I can guide and help you find your words, create an engaging message and build a relationship that results in repeat sales with your customers & leads. Contact me today to get started. Come find me on Google+View all posts by Denise Fay →

  1. LornaLorna11-29-2011

    Yep, that’s spam and I get them all the time and I click delete! He’d be much better using facebook or linked in to reach out to his target audience

  2. I get emails like that all the time, in fact I never read them (apart from the very odd one that might have some relation to the type of work that I do). I delete them without opening them. I would make the same suggestion as Lorna, however even in Linkedin I find I get a lot of spam.

  3. MaireadMairead11-30-2011

    That’s SPAM!!! I would be more likely to speak negatively of businesses that kept on spamming me. However it isn’t illegal to send an unsolicited email to a business and it is up to the business owner to reply requesting to be removed from the mailing list.

    I’d ask him if he has an opt-out notification on his email (now compulsary) and if he is following up on the opt-outs he is getting.

    I regulary send a return email requesting to be removed from the mailing list of anyone who sends me an unsolicited email. If I get another email from them I report them to the Data Protection Office – let them deal with them.

  4. ElaineElaine11-30-2011

    He is lazy, rude, assumptive, and will get exactly the results he aims for – none! Business has evolved, and interaction will get you places, not spamming 8000 email accounts in Ireland.
    He is getting a wake up call every time someone is irked by his unsolicited email. Those calls will gather momentum, and soon enough he will wonder why it is so difficult to do business in Ireland.

    If using a spreadsheet type database and mail merge, then the receiver cannot even remove themselves from it, which is even worse. Interesting to see how many of those spam emails return a paying customer. Ask him simply what his return is like every month.

    Personally, I would mail him back and ask to be removed from all communication from his firm. I have not reported anyone yet, but would not hesitate to if it went too far (compared to what you may ask). There is nothing more empowering or damaging than word of mouth, and with business circles in Ireland being so small, his time is limited!

  5. Denise FayDenise Fay11-30-2011

    Hi Elaine,

    Thanks for your comments. I think he uses a mail client rather than spreadsheet. I removed myself from his email. Then I met him and I told him that I unsubscribed because I had never given my permission in the first place.

    That was when he said ‘there’s the law, and then there’s the law’. I’ll leave it to you to imagine my reaction!!

    I’m hoping to chat with him and show him other people’s opinions (not just mine) and educate him. I think therein lies the issue – he has never been educated about email marketing.

    I’ll let you know how we get on Friday.

    Thanks again,

  6. Denise FayDenise Fay11-30-2011

    Hi Mairead,

    Thanks for your comments. Interesting suggestion about if he analyses the number of opt-outs and whether he follows up. I’ll ask him and I’ll let you know.

    I give everyone one chance – if they email me once, then I say okay, everyone has a chance to look for new business. But if they email me again, then I’m in a database and I look unsubscribe.

    I’ll be in touch on Friday and let you know how we got on.

    Thanks again,

  7. Denise FayDenise Fay11-30-2011

    Hey Catherine,

    Isn’t it a shame that people craft an email only for it not to be opened? But I agree with you completely – if it’s targeted at you where you have an interest in it, you’ll open it. That’s why people subscribe…they have an interest in the subject. So really, if you’re going to spend time crafting a mail, send it to people who are interested in you. There is a better chance of a return.

    I tend to get a lot of ‘friend’ requests on Linkedin – people who I have never met let alone be friends with.

    Thanks for your time.

  8. Denise FayDenise Fay11-30-2011

    Yes, Lorna…the dreaded word ‘spam’. I agree that he should be more focused on who he wants as a client or even an interested prospect and he could find them on Linkedin….with a little bit of research and time.

    Is it something he’s not interested in doing though? It is much easier to send a mail to a database than take time to research your real target market.

    I’ll ask him and I’ll let you know!
    Take care,

  9. This guy sounds like he thinks playing the numbers will win him results and the Data Protection Office won’t have enough teeth to go after him. I’m going to take a different tack than the other commenters. Does he want to have the conversation about how his practices will ultimately seriously harm his business? Some people just see and hear what they want to hear so I’d hate for you to bang your head against the wall of his mind.

    If he does want to seriously have the conversation, then it makes more sense to have him identify the actual amount of revenue he’s generated with these tactics and the number of opt-outs he’s getting compared to the number of emails he sends out. Is he getting the type of ROI he desires?

    If he doesn’t care, then let the Data Protection Office and the business community take care of him. It does make you wonder why he’s in a mastermind group if he’s unwilling to learn though. Hmmm….

  10. Niall DevittNiall Devitt11-30-2011

    Tell him to stop damaging his business!

Leave a Reply