Startups and Spam

These two “S” words are not often used in the same sentence but I had to use them. Everyone hates getting spam but not everyone hates sending spam. I too like most others get a daily quota of spam in my email account despite the spam filters. While most of those spam emails don’t generate any bad feelings because I simply choose to ignore them there’s this category of spam which I can’t help feeling bad about. This category of spam originates not from shady people selling enlargement creams or Viagra pills but from people who actually own and run less or more popular companies/sites. Most of the spam emails that I get from the category mentioned above are from various early stage startups based out of India(except wayn) so it seems like spamming people in such a way is a trend more popular in India only.

Sample these:

Someone close to you had invited you to join
Please visit and register, you may win an illuminated t-shirt.”


“Your friends have been inviting you to join”

As if the shady generic signup spam emails like the one’s mentioned above weren’t sufficient that we now also have spam vote for me emails like this

“A friend of yours provided us with your email address and suggested that you would be open to provide 2 minutes of your time to support a startup company engaged in a worthy mission.  We have been nominated in the TATA NEN Hottest Startups contest.  We are writing to request you to vote for us.”

“worthy mission”
was it ? Not sure if anyone who gets this spam email would vote for them, I certainly won’t(despite the fact that I liked the site’s interface when I looked at it for the first time)

I fail to understand why these sites/companies have to resort to such stupid ways of spreading the word. Why why why ? Firstly, I am not a big supporter of mass emails, for I am not really sure if they do more good than bad and secondly if you have to (for whatever reasons) mass email people keep in mind the following things

1) Don’t address it to everyone.
Hi all, Dear all etc are a not a good way to start an email which is not addressed to a known/close group. They look spam from the word go. I’d rather read a mail which reads “Hi Mayank” or at least a “Hi”.
2) Don’t use vague referrers:
“A friend of yours”, “Someone close to you”, “Your good friend” or something weird like this is sure shot sign of a spam email. If you have a referer name use it else don’t pretend to act genuine because this just doesn’t work.
3) Make the text interesting:
I won’t mind reading a random email if its written properly and maybe a bit witty. It should be a run of the mill promotional email.

That said, I’d like to advice startups(and others) to not bombard random people like this as it might give you small returns but it most certainly will piss others off which might have been neutral towards you otherwise but now think of you as evil/lame.  No points for guessing what image I now have for the startups who sent me those spam emails.

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2 thoughts on “Startups and Spam

  1. Majento

    I totally agree with your pointers, if i may add:
    4)when sending mass mail, specially to your user base, always, i mean always, include an unsubscribe link.

    As to pure Spam, truth is i would probably quit any startup that would even consider sending spam related to Viagra and such, after all that would also smear my own record/CV.

    Thank god, so far i never had to face this problem.

  2. mayank Post author

    The unsubscribe link is officially mandatory for any mass email sent by a web app.

    I didn’t mean the startups sending spam related to Viagra etc, I just meant that some startups send spam mass invites etc of forms. Consider this latest one in the form of email.

    ” Hi, how r u doing?..aaj kal kahaan hai?

    We are sending you this message on behalf of your friend, is an opportunity for you to connect with your past colleagues, college mates and school mates.

    I don’t have an account there but apparently it’s members can send messages like these to my email account. I am also certain that the account which sent me the invite/message is a fake one.

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