Is cold email spam?

By: Jack Reamer |
 May 20, 2019 |

You send cold emails.

Does that make you a spammer?

Answer: Maybe.

Here’s why…

To find out if your cold emails are spam, you first need to define spam.

Generally speaking, spam is unwanted email.

Legally speaking, spam is any message that breaks the CAN-SPAM act.

Let’s get the dry, boring and dirty legal issues out of the way early.

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
  3. Identify the message as an ad.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.

Okay, all good? If not, ask your lawyer. Let’s move on.

If we circle back to my general definition of Spam, then you know it’s all about sending emails that people actually want. If you do that, then you’re not a spammer. Yey! End of blog post. #NoMoreSpamForever

Eh, not that simple.

Example time!

Let’s say you have 2 prospects and you send them the same cold email.

One prospect may get your email, flag it as spam immediately and curse you and your company out loud. In which case, you just committed an act of spammery. (Which is totally a word… Right?)

Another prospect may pull over their car to message you back because they’re so excited about your email. Seriously, this happens from time to time. And this is not spam.

So as this example points out, you, noble cold email sender, do not get to determine if your email is spam. Even if you follow every letter of the law, the decision belongs to the recipient alone. Kind of reminds me of the old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Of course, if you’re a jerk and blasting thousands of people the same untargeted, uncustomized message, I’ll say it. You’re a spammer.

For the rest of us, here’s what you can do to send “ham” not spam.

Your cold email should:

  1. Add value to your prospect.
  2. Be relevant to your prospect.
  3. Use personalization.

In short, if your prospects thank you for sending the cold email, you’re on the right track. Your job is to find people you can help and start a conversation around their needs.

“But Jack, what kind of cold email would someone thank me for sending?”

How about an email inviting someone to a relevant(!) networking event in their city?
Or what about an email offering up a few tips to help someone get more out of their existing ad campaign?

If I was into networking in Chicago or fixing my crappy ad campaign, I’d be excited about both of those cold emails.

If it helps the reader and it’s relevant. And if you obey your country’s spam laws.

If your email is marked as spam, then it’s spam. It’s up to the recipient.

I’ll leave you with 2 more tips on making your cold emails less spammy:

  1. It’s much easier to send a helpful, non-spammy, email to 10 people, than to 10,000 people. Quality > Quantity people. (For some reason, this concept takes time to sink in. I’ll be repeating this in varying forms over the next 25 years.)
  2. If you’re worried that you’re about to send a spammy message, then it probably is spam. Take more time to research, make sure you’re reaching out to the right person with the right offer.

Okay, all sorted? Cold email is not spam. But if your prospect doesn’t appreciate your message, then, it is.

Happy cold emailing!