The temptation to send spam – and a warning

November 30, 2023

Recently I agreed to help a client with an email marketing campaign to generate leads for his business.

He had purchased a large list of New Zealand business owners, with names, emails etc. He wanted me to send out a mass email to this list with his offers.

Now, I am aware of the spam laws in New Zealand but I thought I might be able to find a way around it. I carefully worded an email, addressing the recipients by first name, telling them I had got their details from a directory of New Zealand business owners.

I invited them to sign up for this company’s offers by going to a web page and I assured them this was a one time email and they would never hear from me again unless they signed up.

I sent this to 3000 people, to see how it went. The good news is, we got over 100 sign ups within a couple of days. The bad news is, we got four spam complaints which were referred to the Department of Internal Affairs.

The Department now has me under investigation for sending spam. Hopefully, for a first offence, I will simply get a warning. After all, it’s hardly in the same league as sending millions of emails a day selling viagra.

But the lesson is learned. It’s pretty much impossible now to get away with anything that even vaguely resembles spam because a small but very active number of people are ready to report any unwanted email to the authorities.

The moral, don’t even think about sending spam. It’s not worth the grief.

2 thoughts on “The temptation to send spam – and a warning”

  1. The problem is determining what “spam” actually is. I look out of the window and see a huge billboard advertising a plastic surgery clinic. Isn’t that spam? I didn’t ask for it or request it. It’s just using a different medium.

    If that same company sent a copy of the same ad to a million email addresses they would be fined but they are free to show the ad to millions via a billboard. There is a lot of ambiguity in the advertising world and this makes advertising your small business a real challenge.

    Those who can afford the billboards (or TV etc) are in a better position than the small business who has to rely on other, cheaper methods. I don’t call it spam, I call it using initiative and trying, in this very competitive world, to succeed. Is that really a crime? I think there are a lot of people with nothing better to do than complain. People who want to try and ruin my attempt to be successful.

    Why not just delete the email if you don’t want it? Does it hurt you when I email you? Does it affect your life? No? So shut up complaining and just delete it, like I do.

  2. Hi Andy,

    I agree with you. I get tele-marketers phoning me regularly in the evening just as I am about to sit down to dinner. That annoys me far more than getting an email in my inbox.

    But in New Zealand now we have a team of government officials employed full time to fight spam. This encourages people to make complaints. There are certain people who just like to complain because it makes them feel better to knock someone else down.

    So for a small business owner trying to use email to market themselves, it makes it very difficult.

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