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Opt-in or Spam--What's the Difference?

By: Kevin Nunley

Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice, copywriting, and promotion packages. See his 10,000 free marketing ideas at Reach Kevin at or 801-328-9006.

Opt-in email is when you get a message that you have asked to receive. Spam is a commercial message you don't want and never asked to receive.

Simple enough? Not exactly. Every day I hear from people are confused between opt-in and spam. And with good justification. The definitions vary from one person to the next and shift over time.

Back in 1996 when I started my online business, it was perfectly acceptable to send email to the address of anyone who sent email to you. If you emailed a question to me, I answered it and put your address on my newsletter list.

Today that would get you in spamming trouble ASAP.

Most of the "safe" lists you hear about are actually spam lists. Sure, using them will likely get your site removed, but you also won't get any response. These days people instantly know spam from other email and delete it in the blink of an eye. It's the norm to send spam to one or two million addresses and get zero response.

Good bets for legitimate opt-in lists are,, and An even better opt-in strategy, in my opinion, is to send your message to newsletter lists. Get an ad, sponsored ad (usually goes at the top of the newsletter), or a solo mailing (your sales letter goes all by itself to the list of subscribers.) Pick a newsletter that consistently features good, helpful information. That's a newsletter whose readers pay close attention to what it says.

© 2002

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