Spam, Hamburger or Filet Mignon

Spam, Hamburger or Filet Mignon

Everyday we open our email “inbox” expecting something to satisfy us, yet it seems to be filled with more unsolicited electronic junk mail, also called bulk email (or Spam, as it is called by most people). How much time do you spend everyday purging all this Spam? How many messages a day do you get that start out “Get Rich Quick….” or “Lose Weight Fast…” or even “Interest Rates Have Dropped.”

Additionally, Spam email often contains a sentence that states that all you have to do to get off the list is reply with “Remove” in the subject line. Do not reply to a Spam email, because now the Spammer will know that your email is actually a real live email address and will start sending you MORE Spam and sell your email address as a “fresh” email address for an even greater barrage.

Very few people like Spam. And most people HATE it. We have talked with quite a few mortgage companies that have considered using unsolicited email as a form of Internet marketing. Before you take the plunge into Spamland, you need to evaluate the risks you are taking with Spam marketing and here are just a few of them:

  • Will you lose your web hosting provider or ISP connection because of all the complaints?
  • How many potential customers will get upset because of the Spam approach you are taking?
  • Is there a chance you might wind up in some legal trouble (i.e. Federal Court)?
  • Are you buying mortgage leads from an email marketing company which utilizes Spam?

No Web No Business

Web hosting providers hate companies that use their email servers for bulk email. The reason is because it uses up valuable bandwidth, disrupts their non-Spamming customers, and your provider receives threatening letters from their wholesale bandwidth companies.

Banned: These web hosting providers can also get their entire email servers completely banned so not only will you be closed down, so will all of their customers. No one will be able to send emails to AOL customers, Hotmail customers and others.

Shut Down: Hosting and ISP providers to protect their business, (and to keep their customers happy) can immediately delete your web hosting account and ask questions later. In effect, you have no web site and therefore no online mortgage business. All the bulk emails responses reply to a “dead” email address or web site and simply go on to the next provider of loans. Your time, efforts, money and now your web site are all wasted.

Disgruntled Customers

After being deluged with numerous Spam emails everyday, do you honesty think a customer that actually responds to a Spam solicitation will be a “good lead”. Most Spam leads have very poor loan close rates and in fact you will spend more time trying to placate unhappy Spammed people than closing loans.

In fact, some sophisticated computer hackers get so mad with Spam being sent to them that they will actually hack into your company web site. Hackers have been known to shut down web sites, steal customer information and publish words/graphics that deface your web site.

State and Federal Laws

Anytime there is something that makes millions of people complain, it will get the attention of State/Federal lawmakers. You should be surprised that there has been a lot of activity both on the Federal/State levels to put a stop to unsolicited email. There have been a number of bills proposed in Washington, one State bill was passed and several other States have bills pending.
There is precedence for this; the U.S. Congress passed a Bill in 1991 called the “Telephone Consumer Protection Act” which made it illegal to send unsolicited junk fax mail. It was passed after everyone started complaining about junk faxes.

Several other bills are pending at the Federal level. One bill would require that the word “Advertisement” or “ADV” appear at the top of the message and that the sender be fully identified by name, email address and telephone number. Another bill would outlaw false headers and return addresses for unsolicited email advertisements and require mailers to honor removal requests.

Only one state as far has actually passed a bill regarding unsolicited email. That is the State of Nevada. The law requires that such email messages have proper sender identification and that they include “opt out” or removal instructions.

What is Opt-in Email?

What is permission based or opt-in email, and how is it distinguished from Spam? Opt-in or permission based email (the terms are interchangeable) means recipients have confirmed their interest in receiving email and have signed up (hence the term opt-in) to receive communications about a subject of their interest. The recipient is also given the opportunity to unsubscribe from the list at any time, and all email messages are clearly identified as coming from a specific and approved vendor or source. Opt-in email is considered an acceptable Internet marketing technique, but still only a step above Spam, essentially “hamburger” as it is still invasive in nature.

Email Marketers or Spammers?

As most mortgage companies do not have the technical resources to start their own opt-in email marketing campaign, many companies engage an outside company to fulfill their opt-in marketing and mortgage lead requirements. Unfortunately this can cause mortgage companies to still have problems as some marketing companies are actually selling Spam leads (and not Opt-in email leads as promised).

Among the 80 Spam emails I receive each day about 10-20+ Spam emails a day soliciting “lower my interest rates”, “refinance before rates go up”, “consolidate my debt” and more. In fact, I get another 5-10 Spam emails from actual Opt-in marketing companies that are trying to sell their mortgage leads. Isn’t that ironic when an Opt-in marketing company Spams me to sell leads and states they do NOT do bulk email to generate their mortgage leads.

I Spam Therefore I Am Spam

So you are probably thinking, “Well, we are legally OK because we are not really the people spamming. The U.S. Federal Courts have a funny legal precedent that says in law that says “Ignorance is not bliss”. So if your marketing company gets caught doing email spamming, your mortgage company is also possible legally responsible for their actions.

Is There A Filet Mignon Option?

The best most viable Internet leads are not those you solicit, but those that come to your web site seeking loans. Driving traffic to your site can be accomplished via traditional “real-world” marketing (Countrywide), heavy banner usage (E-loan) or by high rankings in the search engines.

A customer who self selects to visit your site is of higher quality and more likely to become a customer. Now, that should satisfy you…and your customers.

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