Spam Tutorial, Don't Do It! Period!
May 28, 2001

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Reaching Great Minds Online
May 28, 2001 Issue #91
Mike Valentine, Editor,

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==> Membership Reminder: June 1 Deadline for WebSite101 access
==> Feature Article: Can Spam Before it's Too Late!
==> Guest Article: IT TAKES A LOT OF HITS!
==> Classifieds
==> Subscribe/Unsubscribe information


Last Chance for Free WebSite101 Access!
by Mike Banks Valentine

Publishers Note:

With apologies to those who have read and responded to the
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will be reprinted this last issue. If you missed the entire
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Click on #95 "Calling All Subscribers" to get additional detail.

Just over one month ago, WebSite101 announced that we've inked
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Can Spam! Before it's too late!
by Mike Banks Valentine

Internetweek recently ran a survey asking companies if they
ever use Unsolicited Commercial Email to market their business.
The results were astounding assuming the respondents represent
real, legitimate businesses! (How many spammers read

"In fact, one in 25 of our survey's respondents said their
companies' marketing efforts include the distribution of
unsolicited e-mail."

And that is just those who ADMIT spamming! That is a very ugly
percentage and something needs to be done. I am in contact with
the Chief Privacy Officer of one of the largest email marketing
companies on the web asking to be removed from the marketing
database by domain.

That seems to be difficult. Why? I want my subscriptions to remain
intact, I want my hosted applications to continue undisturbed,
I want to request information from online companies and I want
all of that while also wanting to stay out of marketing databases.

This seems like a relatively simple thing to do technologically.
Internetweek recently published an article titled "Privacy tools
emerge" at:

What makes the process of privacy protection so hugely complex?

WebSite101 recently added a privacy protection tool to our
domain which protects our database from outside access and
seems like a perfect solution to keeping our subscribers
and site members information private on a shared server. We
highly recommend it for those who value the privacy of their
web site members.

Take a look at the possibilities for both privacy protection and
website community building on your own domain:

This software allowed us to offer an iron-clad privacy policy.
The trust of your visitors is far more important than any other
feature you could offer. Immediately following the posting of
our new privacy policy, we experienced an upsurge in new
memberships unprecedented since the inception of our site!

Isn't it clear we all want a solution?

There are raging anti-spamming fanatics getting legitimate
companies shut out of their ISP's by falsely accusing people
of distributing UCE (when their domain is mentioned in an article
published by *anyone*) by running entire newsletter through a
service called SpamCop. This tool is abusive and should be shut
down or discredited since it extracts every domain name mentioned
in the newsletter and sends email to the host of those domains and
endangers the owners of those domains with knee-jerk reactions by
their ISP's. It is not uncommon that victims of these complaints
are shut down by their web host without investigation!

"Guilty until proven innocent" is the attitude of many service
providers since they are under constant pressure from everyone
from their customers to their own providers to do something to
prevent further complaining and end email abuses. This has caused
a new backlash by innocents who have been threatened with the
closure of their online business stemming from those spurious

If this anti-spam article were published in an anti-spam
newsletter and the newsletter were submitted to SpamCop
every domain mentioned within this text would be turned in
to their ISP for spamming. How effective a tool is one that
indiscriminately shoots at everyone? That is essentially
the effect of anti-spam software used badly. It would shoot
to kill all, including the anti-spam sites mentioned here.

Everybody is hot under the collar about spam but nobody is
doing anything real to stop it legitimately. The government is
debating the issue and threatening to pass stringent laws, but
haven't figured out how to legislate the issue. Reference laws:

Now there are fanatics on both sides of the issue and it is going
nowhere but occassionally to the Realtime Blackhole List. This is
one attempt to address the issue that creates more heat than light.
Marketing companies want the Black Hole List shut down. Why? 24/7
media have recently won a court injunction to have their domain
removed from the Black Hole list.

For info about the Blackhole List at the Mail Abuse Prevention
System or MAPS visit:

Is Spam destined to join religion as one of those things we avoid
discussing in polite company out of fear of brawls breaking out? I
recently attended a marketing conference where the topic of spam
turned a roomful of reasonable folks into sharply divided camps
raging loudly at each other across the conference table.

I've just joined a spam discussion list where many of the same
emotions are raised in what seem to be otherwise reasonable folks.
Everyone seems to agree there is a problem, but each have very
distinct ideas about what should be done to address the problem.
Comparisons are constantly made to core issues of freedom of
speech, gun control, product liability, totalitarianism, and
all the while, nobody agrees on a solution.

Marketers should take the lead and help develop technological
solutions to unwanted email before they are hit with a massive
public backlash and the complete loss of this valuable marketing
medium due to public hysteria and government over-reaction.

I vote that DoubleClick, WhiteHat, 24/7 Media and their cohorts
commit a bit of their thinning profits to helping solve the
problem of spam before they get wiped out by the building tsunami
of public opinion.

We've recently added a Spam Tutorial to WebSite 101:

You can read it at the URL above or adopt the following guideline:

DON'T DO IT! End of lesson.
WebSite101 "Reading List" Weekly Netrepreneur Tip Sheet
Weekly Ezine emphasizing small business on the Internet
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e-tutorial online at:
By week's end you're ready expand your business to the web!

SpamFilter . . . Finally! A Solution to SPAM emails


by Bob McElwain

Commonly we hear that a one or two percent CR (Conversion
Ratio) is good. By this is meant that one or two visitors take
the desired action in accordance with the site purpose. Perhaps
they make a purchase, request further information, or download a

Such numbers mean different things to different people. Many
sites would be dismayed by a CR of less than ten percent. Still
others, particularly those selling high ticket items, may be
quite content with a CR of 0.1%. What the CR for your site ought
to be, depends upon the site purpose. For example, it's easier
to generate leads than to sell product. Thus you would expect
a better CR in lead generation than in selling.

CR And Newcomers

If you're new to the Web or have only recently opened a site,
you may not have enough visitors or sales to figure what your CR
is or ought to be. The bottom line is that hits are hard to get,
and the task is far more difficult for a new or relatively new

So What Should Your CR Be?

As suggested, it is a function of the site purpose. As an
example, assume you have opened a site and are selling an ebook
at $20 per copy. Further assume it's a dandy book with great
content of interest to many. And one that over-delivers big

In theory, you should be able to generate one to two sales
per 100 visitors (1% - 2% CR). In practice, it may be an
unrealistic goal. The inconsistencies between groups of only
100 can mislead.

The Makings Of A Great Site

Let's assume you have taken a practical view toward your
site. And that it is all working well. You have great content
that even now is beginning to draw traffic. And you have other
products, perhaps an affiliate program or two, besides the ebook.

Given this model, hits on the site do not relate directly to
the CR for your ebook. You need to look at the hits on the page
which contains the sales presentation of the book. Then consider
sales relative to this count.

To put this another way, it may require 1000 hits on your
site to generate 100 hits on your sales presentation. If these
hits bring two sales, your CR is 2%. However, relative to your
site which received 1000 hits, ebook sales amount to only 0.2%
on total hits.

1000 Hits? That's A Lot!

You bet it is. And if you're new to the Web, you may not
yet have received this many in total. Growing targeted traffic
is the most difficult task there is in doing business online.
It takes time, a lot of learning, and above all, patience.

So What Can You Do Meanwhile?

Continuously examine all aspects of your site, with the goal
of directing more visitors down paths to sales.

* Does your content at least indirectly point to a path which
leads to a sale?

* Can the sales presentations be improved?

* Is there a product that can be dropped that would increase
sales on others by bringing a sharper focus?

While the above are clear cut, it's very difficult to measure
the effectiveness of any change. That is, given a change, 100
hits on a sales presentation may yield 3 sales rather than 2, but
you still must do a lot of guessing. In fact, a good improvement
in the presentation may result in a drop to only 1 sale in the
next 100 hits. With so few hits, results are not conclusive. If
you are convinced your new page is better, you may decide to keep
it, and worry about the CR over time.

How Many Hits Can You Expect?

When a new site is opened, the only hits come from the
webmaster and friends. While building content, submitting to
search engines, improving the sales presentations and all else
that is required to grow a site, you will be busy. Hit counts
will climb, but slowly. Sales even more slowly.

While there are those who have the experience to generate
massive hit counts in very short order, even the most determined
newbie may need to be content with something between 2000 and
4000 total hits in the first year. Translate this to only a few
sales of a $20 ebook, and it's easy to see why people so often
do not hold on even for a year.

The good news for the persistent types is that a growth rate
of ten percent per month is not out of reach. And this brings a
doubling in 7.5 months. The secret? Hang in and make it happen!

It Takes A Lot Of Hits

Until you are generating two to three hundred hits a day,
testing is not likely to "prove" the effectiveness (or failure)
of changes. In fact, even at 1000 hits per day, there will
always be a need to evaluate results. In some cases, you must
ignore what the numbers appear to say.

To put this another way, suppose you are up to 1000 hits per
day. If you put up a new sales presentation and your CR jumps
from 2% to 4%, and stays there, there's really no choice. Hold
to the new version. However, you may decide to do so even if the
CR drops a tad. Why? Because results from even 1000 hits
day can be circumstantial, a function of the traffic that
happened by. The new page may be determined good, so long as
there is not a significant drop. In taking this choice, the
hope is in gains over time.

Where Does That Leave You?

In the end, it is always a matter of judgement. With few
hits, this is really all there is to go by. Given lots of hits,
you will have better numbers to help you make such judgements.
But you will also have greater experience. So now, as at some
future date, you may need to act upon your sense of things,
rather than numbers.

Bob McElwain
Want to build a winning site? Improve one you already
have? Fix one that's busted? Get ANSWERS. Subscribe
to "STAT News" now!

Web marketing and consulting since 1993
Site: <>
Phone: 209-742-6349



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Copyright 2000 Mike Valentine

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  June 10, 2001