I'm also unsure that it's a good long term strategy for the business. It may generate some customers, but building a customer base on people who have A) shown themselves to be relatively fickle in choosing a host and B) have a tendency to use public channels to raise issues strikes me as a unstable base.
Unsolicited email from parties you have no involvement with is spam by definition.
And note to spammers and marketers on HN, I know I'm abusing my spam filters, but if I see emails from parties I don't recognize because "I subscribed for updates to one of their partners" (or some other bullshit explanation like that), I instantly flag them as spam, even if they have an unsubscribe button, because I can't unsubscribe from something I never subscribed to and I refuse to validate my email address like that.
But I know people around me making a lot of money with it. Because, unfortunaly:
- a lot of users open those mails;
- they read it;
- they click on the links;
- they don't report it as spam.
It sounds crazy, until you spend a lot of time working on website for people outside of your geek bubble.
I worked in porn quite a lot, and you see 80% of the male population in there. Spams work on them. Crazily stupid ads as well : "click to fuck now for free". Yes they do click. And yes they pay.
Every tech company is going to have bad operational issue days. Going at your competitors customers regularly when your competitors have bad days will net you more negative reactions than positive, in my opinion.
Not to say that you shouldn't do your best to make sure your customers are always able to continue business, but like you said, everyone has their bad days. I'd choose to have loyal customers that aren't jumping on social media at the drop of a hat and publicly "chastising" the company.
* Also, "I'd love to speak to you more about the issues you're experiencing" does not mean "offer to help fix the problem" as he mentioned. Unless he means, leave his current provider to move to them.
The key here would be unsolicited (yes) and bulk (possibly no). It is impossible to tell based on the blog post, but I find it less likely that there was a bot designed to find customers after a rival outage than a human doing it. If there was a bot however, that would be spam.
I think many people on here would agree that it is annoying and would probably be ignored or marked as spam, but I don't think it is spam.
It is definitely spam in other countries, though, where the criteria is unsolicited.
The flaw in this definition is that the recipient has no way to tell whether a message was sent in bulk or not. After all, if spammers have a database with your address in it, they can have your name as well, or they can guess it from the email address and thus personalize the email you receive. And if the recipient can't tell whether a message was sent in bulk or not, then guilt can't be easily established, requiring a costly investigation from competent authorities.
The problem with email is that it's very cheap to send, much cheaper than making phone calls and the problem with spam is that if unaddressed, it renders your email address unusable, with important, legitimate email being lost in noise, so it does have a high cost for recipients. And that cost for recipients is the same, whether those emails where sent in bulk or not.
So you see, such a rule is designed to protect spammers, to shield them from legal liability.
This avenue of "cold calling" is a bit new and interesting, but the way this webhost has done it just reeks of desperation. This isn't hustle, this is begging.
That's awareness, hustle, and smart targeting in my opinion. Now, I'm not going to change hosting providers over a single outage, but the time to reach out is when I'm down...
If they had tweeted to him back or DM him (i.e. used the same medium as him) then I understand. Sending unsolicited e-mail that capitalizes on a competitors stumble just makes you look petty IMO. Also, people should want to consume your service because they LIKE what you do more than your competitors not because you are pouncing on another's misery to flog your own thing.
Please do not encourage this kind of behavior by writing blog posts about hustle.
If I was actually making money off my site, I would probably be livid enough to dump my current provider - this is by no means the first time this has happened (although of course I bring this on myself by choosing an extremely cheap hosting provider and completely accept the risks I take).
Yes, it is sad when people stuff up, however if I was earning a living off that hosting, then I wouldn't see something wrong in a competitor specifically offering to fix something that is hurting my income.
I didn't edit the names out when they were mentioned in the email but I did try to avoid gratuitous references to them in my main content.
That well was poisoned by "hustlers" (in the derogatory meaning) a long time ago. Unless I have experienced it myself or a trusted acquaintance recommends it, it goes into the bin for me. No exceptions.
No, you're reading in to what I believe. I stated that it made them look good since they were responding to me more quickly than the company I was paying which had stuffed up.
From the customers point of view, their methods is probably really useful too- if I was paying for something, I'd want to make sure that I'm getting the best product my money can buy. I don't necessarily care WHO it is I'm paying, as long as the end product I get is the best value. So honestly it would be a "spam" email I'd be glad to receive!
Thanks for sharing!
Wait, so posting your own writing counts as 'buying votes'? It was something I enjoyed writing, apparently to be pure I should never tell others when I write something?
'comment karma farmers'
The intense bitterness makes it seem that you have an irrational devotion to who gets your imaginary internet karma.
Let's say that 10% (a small minority) of companies offering hosting adopt the same strategy, and that 20% (again a rather small minority) of them manage to get your email address (assuming that the other 80% missed your tweet or did not monitor specifically the twitter account or were lazy or are incompetent, it doesn't matter).
If there are 1,000 such companies, in no time after you post a tweet on your current hosting company you will find in your e-mail box 20 (unsolicited) messages, if there are 10,000 such companies that will be 200.
Would you react in the same manner?
Instead of responding to comments individually I wanted to make one comment (and one comment only) to the responses to this article.
This is ONE of many strategies PeoplesHost employs to acquire customers. To address some questions or concerns others have mentioned in the comments made earlier:
- The blog post is authentic. Jack is someone we reached out to earlier today. He responded by complimenting the hustle and giving him inspiration to write that blog post.
- This is a manual human process and not automated or in bulk. Monitoring social media is a very tedious and timely process that we do on a daily basis.
- Yes, there are many who disagree with this approach as well as many who don't. We receive an equal share of people who respond in a positive light as well as those who call us ambulance chasers.
- Yes, no (hosting) company is perfect. Every hosting company will experience some sort of outage, disk failure, etc. at some point in time. It's inevitable and we understand that. When an event like this occurs, the web hosts should communicate and be honest with their customers base, which often times isn't the case. Customers are given the run around, canned responses, and shown a facade on social media that support is actually responsive when in fact all other support channels (live chat, phone, and tickets) the customer is left hanging where the public eye doesn't see.
Many of the vocal people we reach out to on social media are people who aren't receiving the support they deserve as a customer. These customers are taking to social media channels because they're receiving no updates or responses to their requests; it's their last resort to motivate their current provider to help them. For example, tickets going left unresponded to for many days. That's unacceptable and customers deserve better service. Many times, these customers are on their last string and ready for a move.
We understand that many of these targeted people run their businesses online and it's their livelihood. This is our livelihood too and we truly show our customers that we value them and their business..we wouldn't exist or be in business if it weren't for our customers. We've built a solid foundation of customers and built the company off the premise of exceptional and personal support.
- Some will see it as spam and others won't. We target these customers online who are 1) publically pleading/crying for help 2) have their domains listed on their profile and 3) have no private registration on their domain. This allows us to find their information in the public WHOIS database (again, it's a manual and timely process) and reach out via email, twitter, or directly on their website’s contact form.
- We are not desperate and have a very healthy customer base. Our reviews speak for themselves.
- Many of you may or may not know how competitive the hosting landscape is or how the industry works. Larger conglomerates (I won't name names) spend upwards to $200+ to acquire shared hosting customers via paid search, affiliates, and reviews.
Generally speaking, most consumers don't understand that the "review" sites they trust and rely on are getting paid $200+ for any referral sent to the hosts listed on their top 10 charts. These charts are solely based on who (which hosting company) is willing to pay the most for a referral and/or which host converts the best earning that review site or affiliate the most commission. We simply thought of a new way to target customers in a way that doesn't break the bank.
With that said, it is very enlightening to see other's thoughts on the subject in a public forum.
They also aren't pushing hard, this is essentially the softest sales-pitch that is actually a pitch.
I suppose you could philosophically contort a meaning by which "it's not really spam if you squint", but if I get that garbage in my GMail I hammer that "report as spam" button so fast, and encourage everyone else to do likewise.
I see a big contrast between this and high-volume automated advertising sent to any email the sender could get his hands on. Even more so because business can benefit from such unsolicited email. Unsolicited email to consumers / personal mail is worse in my opinion.
That's not how this works. I mean, you can do whatever you want, but if you show up to a discussion, give a long rant, and then leave, I'm definitely labeling your comment a PR stunt and adding your company to my "never do business with them" list.
I also wouldn't exactly call that a rant, I call that a bullet-point explanation of their logic. Personally I'm grateful to them for clarifying things. Until that point I had multiple people making comments about how I couldn't tell a bot from a human.
How did the Company that was trolling their Competitors' twitter account have access to this guy's email address?