What's the difference between spamming and online marketing?

Added 28.02.11

Ever opened up your email account to find a multitude of messages from companies you’ve never heard of, advertising products you have no use for? Did you waste a lot of your time deleting all the emails, unsubscribing from future messages and cursing the responsible companies? If you answered yes, as most of us will, you’ve been the unwitting victim of a spam campaign.

When it comes to online marketing techniques, there’s a fine and very imperative line between the effective and the downright annoying. Before you commence any kind of online promotional campaign for your business or product, it’s essential you understand what crucially distances ‘spamming’ from marketing. It could mean the difference between gaining and losing a significant number of customers.

Here’s a quick outline of the key features that distinguish one from the other:

Spamming: Spamming is a practice whereby companies purchase an extensive list of random email contacts and then assault these contacts with unwanted information about their products and services. Spammers operate in the hope that at least some of these random contacts will be interested in the services they are offering. However, spamming is a highly uneconomical and hugely ineffective practice because it does not differentiate between recipients that are likely to be interested in the advertisement and those that are not. Spam most often comes from an email address that is not real and does not accept replies. Spamming is an illegal practice that, at best will irritate people, and, at worst, is likely to earn your company penalties

Marketing: Online marketing techniques differ from spamming in several important ways. The most significant difference between spam and online marketing emails is that they are sent with the recipient’s permission. All of the contacts used in online marketing campaigns have knowingly signed up on a company website to receive information about specific products and services that are relevant to their needs and interests. Online marketing communications are most usually sent from legitimate email addresses and are sent to a small and specific group of contacts. Unlike spamming, online marketing is a legal and very effective method of promotion because it targets individuals personally according to the products and services they have expressed an interest in.

To make sure that your online marketing efforts are appreciated and not considered spam by your customers, you should ensure that they are designed to convey valuable information, adopt a personal tone, are sent to individuals who have expressed an interest in your company and provide relevant information in a timely and appropriate manner. Remember how mad it makes you feel when you’re spammed and treat others with the respect and courtesy that you’d like to receive.