Avoiding Spam in Your Ad Campaigns

A fine and distinct line

At one time or another we have all seen statements pertaining to spam which are admonishing in nature but designed to make us aware of the negative effects spamming can have on our promotional and marketing efforts. Such statements often appear in the form of short, two-to-three word directives like, “Don’t Spam,” “Avoid Spamming” and “Advertise, Do Not Spam,” along with other similar cautionary phrases. What is often left unsaid is what spam is and the various ways in which it is defined and interpreted; so in this article we will try to provide some clarification.

First and foremost it is necessary to point out that there is a fine line between advertising and spam, but unfortunately many business owners do not understand the things that distinguish one from the other, although understanding these distinctions is very important in the sense that a smart and well planned Web marketing campaign can help to attract new customers and keep existing customers loyal, spam will likely alienate potential customers as well as an existing customer base. Such alienation can be extremely damaging to profit margins for many business owners. So let’s begin by taking a look at three examples in which basic Web marketing activities – banner ads, email campaigns and message board posts – can quickly cross the line from smart advertising to spam and how it can occur in each instance.

Banner ads

Banner ads are some of the most popular ad placement strategies that can accompany a Web marketing plan. They usually appear at the top of websites, spanning the width of a standard website – which is how they originally earned the name ‘banner ads’ – but in today’s marketing environment banner ads can actually refer to ads of various different sizes and shapes (instead of the standard 468×60 and the larger leaderboard 728×90 versions) that appear in an array of different locations on websites throughout the Web. In many cases a business owner (merchant) might purchase advertising space on certain websites but the banner ad may also be placed as part of an exchange or an affiliate marketing campaign.

Exchanges of banner ads occur when one business owner (say merchant A) posts a banner ad on his own website in exchange for his banner ad being placed on the website of another business owner (say merchant B). These agreements may be made individually between business owners with complimentary businesses or as part of exchanges facilitated by a third party (an affiliate of one or the other). In the case of affiliate marketing it is often the case that an affiliate will post advertisements for a given merchant on his/her affiliate site in exchange for compensation when the banner ad produces a desired effect such as, traffic to the business site or product purchases. The terms of these agreements are determined and agreed to beforehand and are generally based on a scale of pay per impression, per click or per sale/lead.

Now that you have a better idea of what banner ads are it is just as important to understand how they can be overused and, as a result of such overuse, be interpreted as spam. For example, judiciously placing your banner ad on a few websites which are likely to attract an audience similar to your target audience is smart marketing; whereas placing your banner ad on any website that will display the ad regardless of the target audience can be construed as spam. Be assured that Internet users who think your banner ads are everywhere they turn regardless of the content they are pursuing will not likely take your business seriously, in which case they certainly will not purchase products or services promoted under that business name as a result of such pervasive distribution of banner ads.

eMail marketing campaigns

Email marketing campaigns can also be very useful tools in the industry of Web marketing as these campaigns may involve sending periodic eNewsletters filled with information as well as advertisements and short, informative email courses or discounts on product and service offerings. Loyal customers who opt into a marketer’s email list will likely not view these emails as spam and may purchase additional products and services from the marketer or merchant as a result of this marketing strategy.



Additionally, potential customers who have specifically requested more information on certain products and services will also find this type of marketing useful. However, email recipients who did not request information are likely to view such emails as spam. Similarly, harvesting email addresses in a deceptive manner and using these addresses to send out mass emails will most likely be always considered as spam. In fact sending unwanted commercial email to recipients who did not agree to receiving emails from the sender are considered one of the reasons for enactment of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, more of which are highlighted in the excerpt below.

The CAN-SPAM Act was implemented in the United States on January 1st of 2004 as a means of protecting the privacy of consumers. CAN-SPAM is short for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act. The act prevents the use of misleading “to” and “from” headers in emails. The law requires marketers to include their physical address in the email as well as an “opt-out” link in every email designed to give consumers the ability to reach the marketer and tell them they no longer want to receive information from them after which the email sender must remove this email address from their data base within 10 business days. Any email that contains sexual content must be clearly labeled and identified before the recipient opens it. Marketers have to get permission from the consumer in order to sell their email address.

Excerpt taken from Web Connections website. More about the legal aspect of spam can be obtained from, www.cauce.org.

Message boards

Message boards provide an excellent opportunity for business owners to obtain some free advertising where it will be noticed by members of a particular target audience; and if the products and services you or other business owners offer appeal to a specific niche, it is worthwhile to join message boards and online forums related to your industry of choice. Here you will find a large population of Internet users who may have an interest in your products.

 

You might consider including a link to your marketing website in your signature or posting the link when it is applicable to the conversation. However, care should be taken to closely review the message board guidelines so you can avoid doing anything inappropriate while employing a technique which many consider to be smart marketing. Conversely, replying to every message with a link to your website when it is not relevant to the conversation is likely to be construed as spam by other members. Once they begin to view your posts as spam, they are not likely to visit your website via the links you post.

Proven Steps for Building a Subscriber List

Birth of the WMS model

According to Internet Growth Statistics provided on the Internet World Stats website, in December 1995 only 0.4 percent of the world’s population used the Internet; by December 2005 that percentage had risen to 15.7 percent (fueled in part by addition of the World Wide Web, circa 1997); and by June of this year (2017) the number stood at 51.7 percent of the world’s population using the Internet. So it is reasonable to state that there was a growth rate of Internet use which was indeed rapid.

That having been said, it is probably as reasonable to state that the growth rate of online marketing have surged just as rapidly as that of the Internet (Web), except that it did not cover the same period of time; but as more Web-based businesses were created and vied for a share of the eCommerce marketplace, the need to develop new marketing skills and information products became more evident and, as a result, an increased number of marketing strategies were being discovered and developed to cope with the changing face of business in the eCommerce world.

Needless to say, such growth could not have occurred without a demand for the services provided via the Web and the new business type it fostered. However, there was also demand for online marketing tips and strategies which resulted from the astronomical number of new businesses that were created on the Web and continue to be created, leading to the birth of a new Web-based business known as Web Marketing Strategies (WMS). Part of understanding this seb-set of Web Marketing is accepting the nature of business, the market it serves, and its motivating factor which is profit.

Staple of email marketing

So it follows that while there are companies engaged in WMS activities that are all too eager to help your Web-based business build a clientele for a fee, there are also a number of methods you can utilize to promote your website in a more cost effective – and in many cases – free way. One of these methods is Email Marketing (EM), also known as permission marketing, in which Web-based business owners (known as merchants) can actually engage by getting permission from site visitors to send them emails about their company and/or product offers. Those who grant such permission become subscribers to such emails and are considered members of a subscriber list maintained by the merchant.

The staple of email marketing is a subscriber list which, as stated above, requires permission from website visitors, supporters and past customers of a merchant or publisher (website owner) who are willing to subscribe to marketing materials, newsletters, catalogs and other promotional material via email; and the more marketing emails are sent by the merchant or marketer, the more chances s/he has of making sales and perhaps encouraging more future purchases. To do this s/he, the email sender, must build a list consisting of all those who wish to subscribe to the list.

From this list the merchant or email marketer will be able to designate certain members of the subscriber list as target customers for some product types and other members for different product types. This is considered a good list since these different sections of it will have already shown interest in different product offers the merchant has to show and sell. As list members have a preference for what they’ve seen on the merchant’s site, and have decided they want to see more, and maybe even purchase whatever product or service the merchant – through his/her website – offers they will have the opportunity to follow through on that preference.

Strategic patience



In view of the above many people may harbor the opinion that building a subscriber list takes a lot of hard work and a lot of time to build and collect names and addresses; and when approached in the wrong way this could indeed be true. However, if the correct steps are taken, the process takes a bit of patience and a few solid strategies that have been proven to be effective in building subscriber lists. Such a list-building process can be instrumental in a publisher’s ability to open his/her website and business to a whole new world of target marketing.

The central point here is that simply making the effort to build a subscriber list by utilizing strategies that have been proven effective can take your business to a new level which will often result in increased traffic and decent profit, if that’s your objective, and can ultimately do wonders for your business venture. keep in mind that there are many sources and articles which are accessible from the Web to anyone wanting who wish to build a subscriber list, even though they can sometimes be confusing because there are so many sources; and seldom do they all promote the same approach.

And while different groups of marketers, “gurus” and tutorialists have different approaches in building subscriber lists, be assured that there are certain fundamentals that must be adhered to when building your own list; and some of those fundamental steps are outlined in the following paragraphs.

Steps one & two

Step one – requires that you install a good, workable, legible web form on your website which can be located immediately following each of your articles and/or blog posts, or in the side bar of your website. While some may say that immediately placing a web form on a newly created website is too soon ask visitors to subscribe to a list, there is really no best or ideal time to ask a visitor to opt-in to your list. As long as your homepage provide a quick, good (first) impression and a website visitor finds something s/he likes, that might just be enough reason for signing up.

A good web form for opting into a subscriber list is not hard to come by, and asking your website visitor opt-in to your list is really not hard to do. Simply write a simple short statement inviting your visitors to see more and get updated information about the site and what it stands for. Then there should be an area where they could put in their names and e-mail addresses. This web form will automatically save and send you the data entered on the form; and as more people sign in, your list will grow accordingly and proportionately.

Step two – requires your site’s home page (or landing page if other than your home page), as mentioned in the first step, be as impressive as you can make it; and the articles, as well as the description of your website should be clear, well-written and free of any derogatory language or graphics. Depending on what your site is all about, you need to capture your website visitor’s interest while making your content useful and your site easy to navigate. Do not expect everyone to be tech savvy! Invest in having good programming on your site and make your graphics beautiful while making sure to not overload it.

Don’t waste your time making the homepage or landing page overly large megabyte-wise, since there is a strong possibility that all visitors to your website will not have dedicated T1 connections; so the faster your site gets loaded (a consequence of reduced number and size of the graphics placed on it), the better experience your visitors will have. Go for a look that borders between simplicity and sophisticated knowledge.

Steps three & four




Step three – requires that any products or services you offer via your site be of high quality, value and reliability which in turn will have the affect of satisfying any customer who makes a purchase, and can therefore result in very positive responses. Remember that a returning customer is more likely to bring in more business; and a satisfied customer will more likely recommend new customers that do business. Word of mouth and recommendations alone can rake in more and better business than an expensive ad. As your clientele roster grows, so too will your list; and with more members on the list even more people will get to know about what you have new to offer.

Step four – requires that you maintain a clean and private list while never losing the trust your customers who have entrusted to you their email addresses and other private information; and remember this rule if you don’t remember anything else you’ve read thus far: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER engage in unlawful activities by sending SPAM email to anyone! Bad news has a tendency of spreading fast, and such illegal activities will reach your subscriber list members quicker than you can compose a one-line email.

Be assured that many of your subscribers will most likely unsubscribe from your list as a result of such activity, or even accusations of doing so. Keep your reputation untarnished, because a good reputation will drive more traffic and subscribers to your site/business, as well as strengthen the loyalty of current customers.