You will have to excuse the Monty Pyton reference in the headline, but I couldn’t resist. If you know what I am referring to then keep the spam song in the back of your mind while you read this post. Not that it will help you, but it is stuck in my head so I thought I would help you get it stuck in yours.
Spam is the bane of the email world. We have all had to deal with it and nobody likes it. According to Wikipedia SPAM is defined as “the abuse of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately.” Recently, the self-proclaimed “Godfather of Spam,” Alan Ralsky was sentenced to 51 months in prison (a pitiful sentence IMHO) for his role is sending fraudulent emails around the globe. It is reported that Ralsky was involved in sending some 70 million email a day from fake names. It is estimated that 80-85% of all emails sent today are spam.
Each time that I do a seminar or class on Technology in Ministry I talk about the benefits of using email to communicate. Systems like Constant Contact and others, allow interested people to sign up to get your information through their email. These systems keep track of these “permissions,” report bad address, bounces and other data to help you create, send, and track your bulk email communication. These systems are easy to use and quite affordable, even for smaller churches on a tight budget. In my seminar I talk about gathering “permission” from people to send them information. That is an important piece of the puzzle here. You must ask for and get PERMISSION before you send people email.
At just about every seminar I have done I am asked why it wouldn’t just be faster to buy a list of say 1000 email addresses from someplace and start with that? (Insert the sound of the Monty Python group singing spam, spam, spam, spam here!) If you buy a list of email addresses and start sending them emails YOU ARE SPAMMING! Even if you purchase a bulk email list from a reputable source, their list has not asked to get your information specifically. I assure you that once you start bombarding them with your email information they will look at you just like they do all of the other junk emailers that flood their inbox with garbage – and guess what? You are fried! Not really the impression you want the church to make on people is it?
It may take you longer to build a solid email list by gathering permission, but it will give you a better list. Learn to build a culture within you congregation to gather “permissions” from people. Then, use that permission carefully and wisely to communicate with them over time. Communicating with people who want your information will be more effective and profitable in the long run.
Don’t be a spammer – don’t get fried!