You wouldn't think that using free advertising online could be dangerous, but it can. Email advertising is DANGEROUS! Don't be fooled into thinking you have to send hundreds of thousands of messages per day to be at risk.
THE FACTS I know of three different cases recently where people have just lost their web sites due to SPAM related issues with no warning or notification. They have been given no way to argue matter; as far as their ISPs are concerned they are done, out of business, with no appeal or refund for their prepaid service.
Case 1: The web site owner was mailing about 25,000 messages once per week with a 5% undeliverable rate. Sounds like a lot, but he was entitled to send those messages. As owner of an FFA page, people who post ads to his site agree to receive email from him in return for placing their free ad.
Case 2: The web site owner was sending only about 1,000 messages once per week! He was entitled to mail to those people as part of a paid service he had joined and was averaging a 6% undeliverable rate.
Case 3: This web site owner was not sending out large mailings at all! She was, however, receiving a very large of amount of safelist mail.
WHOA! What is happening here?! Clearly, SPAM is reaching epidemic proportions and result could well be death of email advertising, which is widely regarded as THE most effective form of online advertising.
Host providers are under increasing pressure to control SPAM; too many complaints can get a host shut down. Also, amount of resources it takes for servers to send large amounts of mail, handle undeliverable messages and even maintain accounts with a lot of mail can put an incredible drain on host providers. They have to be vigilant in controlling amount of mail their clients send and receive.
DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU! The days when you could buy a list of email addresses and send your ad to them with impunity are gone. It is far too risky today to send mass mailings from your own ISP. Even using another email account can be risky; SPAM complaints can (and do) shut down advertised programs all time. If ONE person complains to everyone they can think of about receiving your message, your offer can be taken offline with very little, if any, warning.
DO'S AND DON'TS If you use any form of free advertising online, you will get mail in return. After all, there is no such thing as a free lunch; mail you receive is price you pay to advertise for free. Read terms of service! Do not post to free ads to sites that allow all of their members to send you an email confirmation. This will cut down on amount of mail you receive and it will eliminate temptation to reply to all those messages, which would be SPAM. While you agree to receive mail by placing your ad, people who send confirmations DO NOT agree to receive your mail. You may not like it, but that is how it is set up. If you do not wish to receive confirmation emails, do not use free advertising sites.
Do not use email address collecting software. I receive mail to accounts that are not published anywhere except on my web site for things like password retrieval. These messages usually say something like, "Thank you for posting your link to my site," but I know that this address was never used to post any ads. I also know that this person who sent message will not be in business for long. While I am not crazy about SPAM, I generally do not complain; I use delete button and for me, that's end of it. But, there are so many people, especially newbies, who absolutely flip over SPAM and I know that one of these people will complain to everyone they can get a hold of and this SPAMMER's operation and perhaps even their opportunity will be shut down soon.
Even safelists are not totally safe anymore. In every one of cases listed above, site owner was receiving a huge amount of safelist mail from over 100 lists. While not nearly as effective as having your own opt-in list, safelists may seem like ideal solution, but ISP's do not always agree. They know that no one could possibly read hundreds and hundreds of messages everyday and they are increasingly aware of amount of resources being used to maintain full and nearly full mailboxes; they do not want to bear that burden. They ask why should they have to pay for your free advertising. If you use safelists, limit number you use and do not send them to your primary mail account, send them to a free email account and empty that account regularly!