According to Wikipedia, “The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (15 U.S.C. 7701, et seq., Public Law No. 108-187, … S.877 of the 108th United States Congress) [was] signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 16, 2003, [establishing] the … first national standards for … sending … commercial e-mail and requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce its provisions.”
CAN-SPAM is an acronym derived from the bill’s full name: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003. It sometimes is referred to as the “You-Can-Spam” Act because it does not prohibit many types of e-mail spam and, in particular, and contrary to popular opinion, it does not require e-mailers to get permission before they send marketing messages. It does prohibit individuals who receive spam from suing spammers except under laws not specific to e-mail.
Wikipedia also states, ” The Act has been largely unenforced,” although the reference cited is from 2004. Yes, in 2004, less than 1% of spam complied with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. In fact, many people in the computer industry, myself included, would tell you not to click on the unsubscribe link in emails because all that did was confirm to the spammers that they had a valid email address. Such is no longer the case in 2013.
Sticking with Wikipedia: “On December 20, 2005 the FTC reported that the volume of spam [had] begun to level off, and due to enhanced anti-spam technologies, less was reaching consumer inboxes. A significant decrease in sexually-explicit e-mail was also reported.”
Later modifications to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 included clarifying that a sender may comply with the act by including a post office box or private mailbox and clarifying that to submit a valid opt-out request, a recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her email address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply email message or visiting a single page on an Internet website.
So, does spam work? The unequivocal answer is yes! Using graphics created by Bloomberg Businessweek, here’s why:
I can tell you unequivocally that unsubscribe also works. Follow along here.
Back in March 2013, I was getting over 500 spam emails EACH AND EVERY DAY. It was tiresome, aggravating, and time consuming to go through them all looking for the one legitimate email and then deleting the others. I decided to start clicking on that unsubscribe link in the emails.
After just 30 days, I was getting only 5-10 spam emails EACH DAY, a decrease of somewhere around five thousand percent! After 6 months, I am getting 5-10 spam emails EVERY 14 DAYS. And they come in bunches. For example, yesterday I got six spam emails within about five minutes, the first spam emails I had received in 13 days.
After just a week of unsubscribing, I came to the conclusion that there was some sort of brokerage service going on. I would receive 5-10 spam emails within minutes of each other. When I unsubscribed, everything was similar, if not identical. The unsubscribe links in the spam emails were the same although the addresses were not.
When I clicked on the link, the unsubscribe box was identical:
After submitting my email address, the unsubscribe confirmation was identical:
It was not until just recently that I found those graphics by Bloomberg Businessweek. Scroll back up and look at the last graphic. Note that the researchers for Bloomberg Businessweek found 365,395,278 links in the spam emails they looked at. Those 365,395,278 links sent them to just 69,002 web sites. More importantly, though, those 69,002 web sites were run by just 45 merchants.
That bears repeating: 365,395,278 links went to 69,002 web sites run by 45 merchants.
Now if just 1% of the people getting 365,395,278 links responded and bought something, anything, that would be 3,653,927 purchases. If each purchase is a measly dollar, that’s still $3,653,927 split between 45 merchants, or $81,198 each!
Now go look at that last graphic again. Twelve percent of Americans — 12%, and only Americans, which number about 325 million — have bought goods and services advertised by spam. So instead of using numbers for 1%, let’s use 12%. Instead of a $1 purchase, though, notice in the third graphic that over half of Americans buy Viagra for $3.00 for 10 mg. So let’s use 50% of those 12% who buy stuff, and $3 for each purchase instead of $1. Here’s the result:
12% of Americans buying something
365,395,278 spam email links
$3.00 per purchase
50% buying Viagra
That’s astounding, and tells you why spam email works.
According to a Google search, though, typical Viagra prescriptions are 25, 50, and 100 mg. So multiply that $3 per 10 mg by 25, 50, or 100, and you see just exactly how much money we’re talking about here…. $30 for 100mg… or as much as $6,577,115,000 just for Viagra if everyone gets 100 mg dosages to perform better!
So, instead of sitting there complaining about spam email, do something about it! Start unsubscribing today and let me know in 30 days and 180 days what your experience is.
DISCLAIMER: This applies to the United States only. Foreign corporations and people do not have to abide by the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 since it is a United States law and does not apply to foreigners.
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