U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama has wowed supporters and political observers alike in recent months. One reason he’s been able to mobilize young and other disenfranchised voters, perhaps, is because of savvy digital messaging campaigns, such as sending SMS messages to subscribers. But while he’s been the digital marketing frontrunner, Mr. Obama recently suffered a setback on the email front.
It turns out that people have been signing up others’ (specifically, anti-spammers’) email addresses to receive messages from Mr. Obama’s campaign. Worse, those signing up with these addresses have been claiming some creative names. The result is that unsuspecting anti-spammers are getting emails that call them ”StupidSpamSucker Slutface,” among other things.
How did this happen? Apparently, Mr. Obama’s campaign does not use double opt-in. As most of you know, with double opt-in, after a subscriber signs up to receive messages, they are sent what’s called a confirmation email (such as ”click here to activate subscription”) in order to verify their enrollment. Double opt-in also helps senders verify that information is correct.
Right now, when visitors to BarackObama.com fill out a form to be added to the email list, they are asked for their first and last names, email address, and zip code. Since no confirmation is required, anything can be placed into these fields; thus messages will call a recipient by any name that has been placed in the corresponding field.
Sure, it’s possible to retaliate against the pranksters. Direct magazine reports that the email service provider to the campaign, Blue State Digital, tracked down the offending IP address used to supply the fake names, blocked it from being able to do so again, and removed the addresses from the campaign’s list.
But the potential damage is severe. When a large enough number or percentage of messages generate spam complaints against a sender, then an ISP will block that IP address from sending out future messages.
Many marketers, and even marketing service providers, think that double opt-in is an unnecessary extra step. Direct even quotes a Blue State Digital employee as saying, ”We don’t confirm ownership of the subscribed e-mal address – no need, as there’s nothing to be gained from submitting fake signups.” But everyone – Mr. Obama, other politicians, and all marketers in general – should know better after reading this.
Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
”I’d rather you text me”