DANGER! Beware!

You wouldn't think that using free advertising online
could be dangerous, but it can. Email advertising is
DANGEROUS! Don't be fooled into thinking you have to
send hundreds of thousands of messages per day to be
at risk.

I know of three different cases recently where people
have just lost their web sites due to SPAM related
issues with no warning or notification. They have been
given no way to argue the matter; as far as their ISPs
are concerned they are done, out of business, with no
appeal or refund for their prepaid service.

Case 1: The web site owner was mailing about 25,000
messages once per week with a 5% undeliverable rate.
Sounds like a lot, but he was entitled to send those
messages. As the owner of an FFA page, people who post
ads to his site agree to receive email from him in
return for placing their free ad.

Case 2: The web site owner was sending only about
1,000 messages once per week! He was entitled to mail
to those people as part of a paid service he had
joined and was averaging a 6% undeliverable rate.

Case 3: This web site owner was not sending out large
mailings at all! She was, however, receiving a very
large of amount of safelist mail.

What is happening here?! Clearly, SPAM is reaching
epidemic proportions and the result could well be the
death of email advertising, which is widely regarded
as THE most effective form of online advertising.

Host providers are under increasing pressure to
control SPAM; too many complaints can get a host shut
down. Also, the amount of resources it takes for
servers to send large amounts of mail, handle
undeliverable messages and even maintain accounts with
a lot of mail can put an incredible drain on host
providers. They have to be vigilant in controlling the
amount of mail their clients send and receive.

The days when you could buy a list of email addresses
and send your ad to them with impunity are gone. It is
far too risky today to send mass mailings from your
own ISP. Even using another email account can be
risky; SPAM complaints can (and do) shut down
advertised programs all the time. If ONE person
complains to everyone they can think of about
receiving your message, your offer can be taken
offline with very little, if any, warning.

If you use any form of free advertising online, you
will get mail in return. After all, there is no such
thing as a free lunch; the mail you receive is the
price you pay to advertise for free. Read the terms of
service! Do not post to free ads to sites that allow
all of their members to send you an email
confirmation. This will cut down on the amount of mail
you receive and it will eliminate the temptation to
reply to all those messages, which would be SPAM.
While you agree to receive mail by placing your ad,
the people who send confirmations DO NOT agree to
receive your mail. You may not like it, but that is
how it is set up. If you do not wish to receive
confirmation emails, do not use free advertising

Do not use email address collecting software. I
receive mail to accounts that are not published
anywhere except on my web site for things like
password retrieval. These messages usually say
something like, "Thank you for posting your link to my
site," but I know that this address was never used to
post any ads. I also know that this person who sent
the message will not be in business for long. While I
am not crazy about SPAM, I generally do not complain;
I use the delete button and for me, that's the end of
it. But, there are so many people, especially newbies,
who absolutely flip over SPAM and I know that one of
these people will complain to everyone they can get a
hold of and this SPAMMER's operation and perhaps even
their opportunity will be shut down soon.

Even safelists are not totally safe anymore. In every
one of the cases listed above, the site owner was
receiving a huge amount of safelist mail from over 100
lists. While not nearly as effective as having your
own opt-in list, safelists may seem like the ideal
solution, but ISP's do not always agree. They know
that no one could possibly read hundreds and hundreds
of messages everyday and they are increasingly aware
of the amount of resources being used to maintain full
and nearly full mailboxes; they do not want to bear
that burden. They ask why should they have to pay for
your free advertising. If you use safelists, limit the
number you use and do not send them to your primary
mail account, send them to a free email account and
empty that account regularly!

There are services out there that will mail your ad
for you from their servers and they will even provide
the addresses, but these are not free and there is
still some danger. Generally, bulk email services will
recommend that you do not include a URL for your offer
in your message, they encourage you to provide a free
email address in your message where people can write
for more information. This, they say, insures that
your ISP and your program or offer are safe: if
someone complains the most that can happen is your
free email account gets shut down.

Remember, when gurus tell you that email advertising
is the most effective form of advertising online, they
are talking about sending mail to your own opt-in
list, that means to people who have specifically
requested your INFORMATION. No one is signing up
just to get ads, unless it is a safelist, and you don't get
those addresses. The idea of email advertising is not
to inundate the world with your advertisement, no one
wants that and if you think about it, you don't want
to be inundated with other people's ads either. You
need to take the time to build your OWN opt-in list.

If you are looking for a shortcut to having your own
email list by buying one, or if you are mailing to
every address you can find everyday (or even every
week), you are headed for serious trouble. You could
lose your site, you could take down whatever it is you
are promoting with you, AND you are contributing to a
problem that is totally out of control.

The truth is, beginners should forget about mass email
advertising to begin with. Practice ad writing by
using a few free safelists.

Create an autoresponder series that people can opt-in
for. Be sure your topic is of interest to a wide group
of people, you have an informative title and also,
that you provide useful information. This is not as
hard as it sounds, but it does take some effort.
Presumably you are selling a wonderful product that
answers an important need for the general population.
Your title should project the single best benefit that
your product offers and the message series should
describe the problem and provide the solution via your
offer. It doesn't have to be 10 messages (although at
least seven is recommended); you could talk about one
specific angle or benefit of your product in each
message with an overall recap for the last.

Also, don't forget that there are lots of other ways
to advertise online. I have heard many people complain
that FFA's and free classified ads do not work, but I
know that they do. I recommend an FFA page that has
sent me 60 visitors within the 2 hours that my link
was visible! The people who say these advertising
forms are worthless are generally those who do not
have the ad writing skills necessary to make surfers
click or they are using automated submission services
which allow your ad to slip off the page without ever
being seen by human eyes. If you can't get people to
click on your free ads, odds are people will not click
through your email ads either. Do not pay for a mass
emailing service before you are confident of your ad
writing skills.

Cathy Wagner creator of
http://www.onestopinternetbusiness.com has grouped
not just a few marketing recommendations, but an
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You will find a very comprehensive overview of internet
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