The fact that you may not be familiar with the term Black Hat Marketing does not mean you are not guilty of it. The term Black Hat is believed to originate from Western movies where you could always tell the bad guy by his black hat. Black Hat marketing is defined as doing things that are unethical or illegal within the structure of normal marketing activities. Sadly this is rampant in email marketing, as many email companies and end users unwittingly or intentionally do this.
We are always trying to educate our clients, and below is an excerpt from the Business2Community.com site discussing some of the potential pitfalls.
Don’t Be Naive
While the repercussions of black hat SEO and black hat social media may just lead to having your company Facebook profile shut down or experiencing negative SEO, black hat email marketing can land you in jail. Learn the laws surrounding email marketing, and practice them carefully. If someone hands you their business card or sends an email inquiry off the website, you can’t plug the email address into a segment without their express consent. Even if you’re not trying to practice black hat email marketing, you can’t afford the risk of naive mistakes.
Our Thoughts: You are taking a huge risk building your list this way. If you get too many SPAM complaints, it could lead to you being prevented from mailing because you become blacklisted. The short term incremental gain is not worth the potential loss or your entire mailing list.
Avoid Craigslist Harvesting
To some practitioners of black hat email marketing, Craigslist can seem like the ideal target. You’re given access to hundreds of fresh, geographically-targeted email addresses each day. Email addresses are typically obscured with filters, known as Craigslist forwarders, which expire after a short period of time. Whether you plug the Craigslist forwarders directly into your email database or try to solicit responses from the real email addresses, it’s black hat email marketing and should be avoided at all costs. Craigslist has a dedicated legal team for the specific purpose of fighting email harvesting.
Our Thoughts: Avoid harvesting of any kind. There is no shortage of ways to acquire email addresses from member websites, but it is illegal, and in the end could hurt your brand and will almost certainly result in poor performing campaigns.
Don’t Buy Email Lists
The laws regarding email marketing are pretty simple: unless a contact specifically signed up for your newsletter or updates, you shouldn’t be sending them anything. There will always be black hat email marketing companies who are happy to sell you lists of thousands of email addresses, but don’t bite. Your small business will be held liable for practicing black hat email marketing, and you just can’t afford the risk of getting caught.
Our Thoughts: Could not agree more. BrandMailers never sells our email addresses to our clients. Anyone who would sell you an email list is knowingly violating the trust of their subscribers, and giving you an inferior product.
You can read the entire article by Jasmine Henry by clicking here.