Newsletter is Not Spam

Why is Everyone Yelling at Me?
I’m new to eCommerce!
Jeanette S. Cates, Ph.D.
The Technology Tamer™

I recently received an email from someone I didn’t know. That’s not unusual.

It had a list of over 100 email names at the top of the email. That’s not unusual, but it’s VERY irritating.

It had some type of message about a “great offer”. I didn’t care at that point.

It had no disclaimer, method of getting off the list, or apologies at the bottom of the page. That’s unforgivable.

If you have been guilty of any of these things…

  • sending email to people who don’t know you and don’t want to
  • listing everyone’s email
  • not providing an “unsubscribe” feature
  • not understanding what the “big deal” is about

…this article is the quick primer you need.

Back in the “olden” days of the internet (mid 90’s), it was common practice to send email to any address that you found. Marketers had automatic programs that searched the web, dragging up any email address available on any page. Other people purchased CDs full of email addresses. Still others took the time and effort to glean email addresses from printed directories. Regardless of the way you got the email address, you sent email to anyone, with the hopes that this shotgun approach would hit a few targets. And it did.

Enter the boom of the internet. Nowadays with more than 300 million people on the ‘net, there are almost as many people wanting to sell something. So take that 300 million and multiply that by just one email per day – and you can see why some people begin to feel overwhelmed with SPAM. SPAM is unsolicited email. It’s the “junk mail” of the internet. And it’s illegal in a growing number of states. See for the latest on legislation and anti-spam movements.

Rule 1: Do not send email to people you do not know or to people who have not asked for it.

Then the second issue – that long list of email addresses. This is just screaming that you are a novice in the world of electronic communications. All email programs have something called BCC or blind carbon copy. Sometimes it’s not obvious. But if you look in your help menu, it’s there. When you send an email to a long list of recipients in the TO field, all of their names and email addresses show. But if you put their names in the BCC field, no one will see their names. The email is still sent to them (see Rule 1), but at least no one has to scroll through the names to read the message.

Why is it so bad to show all of the names? First, it’s irritating to have to scroll. You are VERY likely to lose their attention long before they read your message. And if you’re selling something electronically, are they likely to be impressed with your credibility and trustworthiness when you’ve just displayed your ignorance of basic email etiquette? Next, if they do read your message, they are going to be irritated as they do so. Finally, most people feel it is an invasion of their privacy to have their name and email posted for everyone to see. You don’t hand a customer the list of contact information for all of your other clients – and it’s the same thing as posting their email addresses this way.

Rule 2: Use BCC for any list of names that you email.

The third item that screams “electronic amateur” is not providing a paragraph at the end of the message that tells people you respect their privacy, that you recognize they may not want to receive email from you, and that there is a way to get off your list. Here is a sample:

We hope you appreciated receiving this message. However, if you’d rather not receive any future notices of this sort from us, please send an e-mail message to Put REMOVE in the subject line and you will be immediately removed.

We respect your privacy and will never share your name without your permission.

Nowadays the acceptable method of marketing via email is to do so with “opt-in” lists, where your website visitors, conference attendees, and others give you permission to send them email advertising.

Rule 3: Give instructions to get off the list.

So how do you market via email? This is a broad subject and one you can study for months. I’ve provided a list of my favorite resources on this topic on my website at But here’s how to start.

  1. Craft your email piece. Be sure to use plain text, rather than HTML email, since over 50% of the population cannot read HTML email. [If you do not understand the difference, check your email program’s help menu.]
  2. Send it to the people on your list, using BCC or a bulk email program like Mailloop.
  3. Include the disclaimer paragraph at the end, then respect their request to be removed.
  4. Never send more than one email to someone unless they have subscribed to your list.
  5. Provide a subscription box on your website and a link within your newsletter so that they can “opt-in” to your email list.

Following these guidelines is slower than building your email list from a CD or an internet spamming program. But the goodwill you gain will make you more successful in the long run – and it will keep people from yelling at you!


Jeanette S. Cates, PhD, The Technology Tamer™, works with organizations who want to prosper online and with professionals who want to reduce their learning curve She offers electronic communication seminars and learning materials at

© 2000 Permission is granted to reprint this article in print or on your web site so long as the paragraph above is included and contact information is provided to

here are some tools from this author

Get started with Internet Marketing the right way

Internet Marketing Quick Start – A Full 5 Hours of Complete Beginner Training
You Will Learn More In 5 Hours Than If You Spent The Next 2 Years Trying To Do It On Your Own!

8 Hour Website

“How to get your website online in 8 hours or less!