First, let’s note the official definition of spam:
Simple Definition of spam
email that is not wanted : email that is sent to large numbers of people and that consists mostly of advertising
Full Definition of spam
unsolicited, usually commercial, email sent to a large number of addresses
Okay, now that we have that on the table, the point of contention is “large number of people/addresses”. If we don’t send to large numbers at once and just email folks one by one, then that is okay and is your unasked commercial email not spam?
I have received emails informing me that sending advertising to one person at a time, even though they did not request or ask for the info, is okay. One in particular scolded me demanding that I change my site to make clear that emailing one person directly (someone who didn’t ask for their commercial pitch) was not spam.
I guess it is convenient to ignore the “unsolicited” and “not wanted” part of the definition.
So, when is spam not spam?
When the email is completely tailored to the individual it is being sent to. It is not a template, it is not a copy-n-paste into a website form, hit send and be done.
I receive template copy-n-paste emails all the time through my business consulting website addressed to Dear Sir. I am not a Sir, minimal effort would determine that. Like the fact my name is on most pages or by just clicking on the About link at the top of every page.
Not making the effort to find out I’m not a Sir or even notice my name on every page and you just spammed me. You sent me something I didn’t ask for and didn’t even take the time to know who you are addressing — SPAM!
Clues that Spam is Spam
Here is another example.
I get email inquiries from SEO companies who want to get their client’s guest posts on this site. That’s what they are paid to do — a commercial motive.
Many times their post topics are not even related to Business Email Etiquette. Maybe they get paid by number of sites contacted, not the actual results of getting posts accepted?
Why would I take seriously a copy-n-pasted inquiry that is addressed to the “Business Email Team” (again it’s just me — easy to find that out). Why should I consider their request asking about how they can get one of their clients off-topic articles on my site?
Did they see the commment on my contact page noting I do not accept sponsored or guest posts? If they did, they ignored that and emailed anyway.
They clearly didn’t read the very contact page they used to send their “inquiry”. Instead, full steam ahead to the contact form fields to get what they wanted in front of me regardless. Didn’t take the time to read my site and find the info you seek? SPAM!
Yes, I guess you can send unasked for commercially driven emails to individuals without their permission first. But, if I were you I wouldn’t expect a response.
Do Your Homework
From a professional business perspective you had better darned well do your homework. Know who you are contacting and tailor your message specifically, directly and in great detail to those you intend on sending your pitch to.
Your best bet is to send a short email, noting what you have to offer and if it is okay to send additional information. If the other side is interested you’ll hear from them. If you don’t, you’ve got your answer.
By not doing so you are no different than the mass email spammers. DELETE!