It seemed only appropriate to follow up The Sexy Side of Email Marketing with the True Beauty Email Test.  Not really; it just kind of worked out that way…. and I’m having fun with it….

Just like the last time, this post doesn’t have anything to do with the aesthetics of a message or even the coolness of geeky stats.  Nope, it’s much more primal than that….

There’s a reality show called, True Beauty.  On the show contestants compete in different challenges that not only judges their looks (outer beauty), but their behavior (inner beauty) as well in the shows quest to find the total package of one that possesses both.

At the end of each show the two bottom placing contestants in whatever that week’s challenges are go to an elimination where one is sent home.  There is always one final test for the two contestants sent to elimination.  In the latest episode, each contestant is passed by an actor playing drunk walking with a six-pack on his way to the valet.

Yeah, yeah, yeah….  What’s so primal-email about that?

Well, I’m glad you asked. 

The very first thing one should know and understand is that email is permission-based.  If you cannot understand and accept that one simple fact, there is no way that you will ever succeed in email marketing.  Sure, you might make a few bucks for a minute, but successful email marketing takes a few hours more.

If you’ve ever seen me respond to a, “Where can I buy an email list?” questions you know that I usually – and I’ll admit sometimes a bit acerbic – answer with the standard, “You can’t buy or sell someone else’s permission.  Buying lists is bad.  Don’t do it.” 

I have no tolerance for anyone attempting to justify buying or selling email lists, and the more someone tries on one of those threads, the more harsh my responses become; going so far as to equate purveyors of lists-for-sale as lower than whores and crack dealers. 

The only place that “it depends” when it comes to permission is if it was given to you by the recipient or it wasn’t.  There is no compromise when it comes to permission and those that try to find it with me only piss me off.

So now you might be thinking, “Geez, John, lighten up.  It’s no skin off your ass….”. 

Au contraire!

With the exception of the CAN-SPAM Act (and a few state laws before it), the email industry has been self-regulated – self-policed – since its beginning.  With a government unable to resist regulating anything successful, that could all change.

Stephanie Miller, of Return Path, in a ClickZ post, Do Your Part to Prevent More Government Oversight, calls on marketers to do their part in making sure that their own house is clean.

I couldn’t agree with Stephanie more, but I also think that it has to be more than just keeping our own houses clean; we need to help clean up our neighborhood, too, and that means not standing idly by like Michael watching the drunk get into the car, but stepping up and saying something like Regina did.

No, Regina wasn’t a bitch sticking her nose in someone else’s business.  The drunk driver could hurt himself, or worse someone else.  And Michael wasn’t just some guy being cool and minding his own business.  Nope, he was just being an irresponsible self-centered douche.

The next time you see the, “where can I buy and email list” question pop up, are you going to ignore it or sit idly by and wait for the government to “fix it”, or are you going to step up – alone or in support of others – and say, “List buying is bad; it’s dangerous for your business; don’t do it; no excuses”. 

In the True Beauty Email Test, are you more like Regina or more like Michael?