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For me, spam is unwelcome email - if I don't want it, it's spam.
I nearly fell off my chair at this recent statement on the E-consultancy forum:
"It's not spam as there is (sic) no restrictions on business to business email."
Let's leave to one side the fact that limits DO exist for B2B email and focus on the basic misconception here.
Spam is certainly tough to define; it's one of those "I don't know what it is, but I know it when I see it" things.
But if the person on the receiving end of your email thinks it's spam, that's all you need to know.
I recall a couple of years ago sitting in an Inbox/Outbox debate thrillingly titled "Spam Wars", and chaired by Nick Ross of Crimewatch fame (then).
The first bit of audience participation came when Nick asked the room to define spam. "Any marketing email!" was the reply.
As a marketer, you may think that that's wrong-headed and you may run spluttering to the E-consultancy forum to complain.
But the person who gave that definition is someone that rules the roost over which emails get through to one of those businesses you're trying to deliver your message to. So who's right?
We live in a world where we don't have a right for our email to get through to the intended inbox - surely we all know that from (possibly bitter) experience?
I remember the time salaries for my company nearly got delayed because the Payroll Report was deemed to be spam by an email filtering service.
Why are we in this position? Because so many people think that because they have something to say (sell/promote..) people should see it.
My definition of spam? An email I don't want.
Most messages that fall into that category are selling something - and I don't feel any better about the countless hordes of people trying to sell me cheaper telephone services (I'm in serviced offices and have no ability or desire to hear from such services) than I do about the person selling me equally irrelevant Septic Tank services, 'stock tips' or sexual aids.