Volume 86: 1/15/04

How You CAN the Spammers

Ask and ye shall receive: how to report spammers under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

What a bunch of conscientious humans you guys are!! Seems lots of you are dying to report those scummy spammers to whatever appropriate agency will take your compliant. Either that, or whistle-blowing is next on the career agenda.

When I reviewed the basic implications of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 last time, it didn't even cross my mind to include information on how to report offenders. But it crossed your minds ... and you very kindly brought it to my attention ("Hey Grok, shape up and get with the program!").

Apparently, the matter didn't cross very many other minds out there, because it wasn't exactly easy to tiptoe my way through the Internet tulips to discover a useful answer.

But green is the color of persistence!

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the US government agency charged with enforcing CAN-SPAM (wireless spam will be managed through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)). These are going to be busy folks for the next two years, monitoring email practice and writing up stacks of reports to evaluate the effectiveness of the Act.

It's going to be expensive and time consuming to apprehend and prosecute violators of the Act, and naturally, spammers will use that knowledge to their advantage. In reality, the bulk of prosecution will probably come from ISPs. But you help make those wheels turn.

Whenever you complain about spam, try to include the full email header. The information in the header helps consumer protection agencies follow up on your complaint.

Tell the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Anti-spam organizations recommend you always report spam to the FTC, which maintains an email spam database that is the reference point for taking action against those who send deceptive or fraudulent email.

If you have a specific complaint about an unsolicited commercial email you received, you can fill out this FTC Consumer Complaint Form. This is also the form they want you to use if your "opt-out" request was not honored.

If you want to report any fraudulent spam or violations of CAN-SPAM, simply forward the offending email directly to uce@ftc.gov. You do not need to fill out a complaint form for this.

Tell the Internet Service Provider (ISP)

When you communicate with an ISP, make sure you send a copy of the spam message and the full email header. At the top of the message, state the purpose of this email - that you are complaining about being spammed.

Forward a copy of the spam to your ISP - most have a posted email address for reporting abuses. Or call the business office to get the correct email address. When you bring spam to the attention of your ISP, you're not just making them aware of the problem (like they didn't know, huh?), you are providing them evidence and motivation to prosecute spammers.

Forward a copy of the spam to the sender's ISP. Most ISPs have policies covering spam abuse, and it is certainly in their interest to cut off offenders.

Other Channels for Reporting

Spam that promotes stocks can be sent to the US Securities and Exchange Commission at enforcement@sec.gov.

Spam containing or advertising child pornography is illegal in most of the world under existing law. In the US, you can report suspected criminal activity to the Federal Bureau of Investigation via this form. You can also file child-pornography-specific reports with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children here. There is currently no agency charged with the investigation of spam containing regular pornography that finds its way into children's email inboxes.

Chain letters that ask for money are illegal in the US whether they are in postal mail or e-mail. Report these frauds to your local US Postmaster.

Hope this helps! Happy reporting.

What makes people do the things they do online?

Why do people visit a website? What psychological, physiological and technological factors affect how people act on the web? Why and how do people buy from, subscribe to and/ or register with a website? What happens to those who don’t buy, subscribe or register but could or should have? Those and other critical questions are what drive Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg to investigate and inquire about the world of the commercial Internet.

Learn how to make online experiences more persuasive by attending the Wizards of Web Academy.

P.S. If you missed our telesiminar of Persuasive Online Copywriting hosted by Annie Jennings you can get you free copy of the taping. Just visit http://www.anniejenningspr.com/futurenow.htm.

Have you checked out the other places to meet us on our latest event schedule?

You Talkin' To Me?

Robert DeNiro (Travis): You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? You talkin' to me? Then who the h*ll else are you talkin' to? You talkin' to me? Well I'm the only one here. Who do you think you're talking to? Oh yeah? Huh? Ok.

Robert DeNiro and your web site visitors are asking the same question. "Are you talking to me? I'm the only one here."

It's not just a line, it's the essence of your relationship with your visitors. You think you're talking to the hordes, 'cause you've got big numbers every month. But your Web site is not a lecture hall or a convention center. It's an intimate little space where you and a visitor interact one-on-one. And there's no such thing as an average user!

So if you have thousands, even millions, of visitors to your Web site, how do you talk to each one as an individual? Join me for an interview with Holly Buchanan, Future Now's Vice President of Client Services.

The Grok: Okay, Holly. We can intuitively understand that everyone is an individual and has a different personality. So give me an example of how this becomes important to a business's conversion goals online.

Holly: Sure, Grok. Let's say you're creating a web site promoting cruises to women. Sounds like a pretty narrow audience. You've done a lot of research on your customers, and here's what you've found out. Your customers are professional women, 25-54, with household incomes of $100,000 and up, and families with an average of 2 children. The one thing they are looking for is escape. Great. All useful information. There's just one problem. One type of customer is an extroverted go-getter. She loves challenges and makes decisions quickly. The other type is an introverted, quiet woman who doesn't like to be rushed. She likes to do a lot of research and take her time when making a buying decision. Even though these women look exactly the same on paper, they approach the buying process in very different ways. Plus different women have very different visions of what "escape" looks like.

The Grok: So how do you create a website that addresses different customers, with different needs and different buying processes?

Holly: Let's take 4 women planning a cruise....Mary, Helen, Connie, and Susan. All are divorced, 40 to 45 year olds with household incomes of $100,000. Think they're all looking for the same thing? Think again.

Mary - Mary will plan her cruise 6 months in advance. She will research every cruise available on the website. She will pay attention to every detail. She will research the ships, and the destinations. Getting the lowest price is important to Mary. The purpose of Mary's cruise is rest and relaxation. She will book well in advance.

Helen - Helen wants to go on a cruise with nice people. She's looking for a cruise with cooking classes so she can learn to make new dishes for her children. Helen will be slow to make a decision. She will browse the site and look at cruises that feel good.

Connie - Connie wants the best cabin the cruise offers. She wants a cruise line with a reputation for outstanding service. She wants to go to an exotic location she's never been to so she can learn about a new culture. She also wants a cruise that offers a lot of fitness activities so she can work on her abs and loose a few pounds.

Susan - Susan will decide where she wants to go at the last minute. She'll check out the activities each cruise offers, the more the better. Susan is looking for fun. Susan likes the personal touch, like a bathrobe in her room, and a bouquet of flowers ready for her arrival. Price is not a big factor.

These women all look the same on paper, but they approach the buying process in very different ways and are looking for very different things. To accommodate them, you need to combine demographics, psychographics, and topographics. You need to understand how your customers approach the buying decision. Most web sites focus on the selling process rather than the customer's buying process. The disconnect between the two means lost opportunities and sales. In order to understand how your customers reach buying decisions, you have to really know your customers and help guide them on their own individual paths through your website.

The Grok: So how do you do that?

Holly: Let's start with Mary. We know Mary is looking for a lot of information. You want to send her to a page that lists all the different kinds of cruises and their destinations. We know Mary likes to book in advance, and price is important to her. So from the type of cruise/destination page you would include a link to a page that lists special low prices for those who book in advance. By providing a link with a call to action (Book in advance and take advantage of early bird specials) that clearly provides information that is of interest to Mary, you propel her forward in the buying process.

Helen wants a cruise that will make her feel good about herself. So send Helen to a page that lists cruises designed to help her become all she can be. From there, include a link to a testimonial page that lets her see how other women just like her have benefited from those cruises.

Connie is looking for new experiences and challenges. Send her to a page with cruises to exotic locations. Include a link to another page which lists all the activities on those cruises.

Susan will be attracted by a page that lists last minute cruises......cruises that still have availability that sail within 2 weeks. Susan would also be interested in a page that discusses how your cruises provide the personal touch. Once again, provide a call to action on the last minute cruise page to the personal touch page to provide momentum to keep Susan clicking and moving deeper into the site.

The Grok: So the ability to personalize each woman's online shopping experience depends on combining an understanding of different individual needs with an intentional path of navigation through the site that satisfies those different needs?

Holly: Exactly. All 4 women may travel from the Home Page to the Book Now page, yet each will get there by her own path, driven by her own interests and buying needs.

The Grok: So, there you have it, folks. Who are you talking to? Are you talkin' to me? 'Cause I'm not like anyone else. Are you providing me with the information I want, when I want it? Are you providing a path for me to navigate your site the way I want to?

Volume 86: 1/15/04

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