Honestly I thought the whole affiliate spam thing died a well deserved death a decade ago, at least for any business that considers itself reputable. Hell even Vistaprint has cleaned their act up in this area.
But no, today I got a message to one of my role accounts (role accounts are things like sales@, support@, accounting@ and so on). As regular readers can probably guess the role accounts I use aren’t particularly easy to guess, but at the same time they’re for use by actual people, so they don’t have the same random characters I use for tracking addresses. Someone could have picked this address up from a variety of places.
The bottom of the email contains this text:
You are receiving this email because you subscribed to HostGator promotional newsletters.
5005 Mitchelldale Suite #100,
Houston TX 77092 USA
+1 (866) 964-2867
This is followed by a link with the label “Unsubscribe”. Here’s when the bullshit starts: it’s not an unsubscribe link. It’s an affiliate link. Here’s the target (with the affiliate ID obscured to stop the asshole in question from getting any traffic).
Now check the mail headers, and sure enough the DNS tracks back to members.linode.com, which is most certainly not HostGator. So I’ve opened a ticket with HostGator, and sent them a full copy of the message, which will give them enough information to find the asshole. It’s my hope they’ll be terminating the affiliate account without paying out a cent.
If I hear back, I’ll post an update.
That was quick, about 90 minutes later I got this message:
Thank you for contacting us with your concerns. We are taking the necessary steps to remove this affiliate from our program as this is a violation of our TOS. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
We’re all used to getting spammed by fly by night businesses, all promising to solve some problem you might not even have, like getting to the top of Google. Most of us would enjoy the opportunity to physically assault (ok, at least verbally) the perpetrators of this garbage, so it’s not often that you see a legitimate business engage in this sort of thing.
So it’s unusual to see a message like this one, from badassprogrammers.com:
Hey There!! Guess what day it is??? Happy Hump Day!!! 🙂
J here, “Badass In Charge” @Badass Programmers in California..
Badasses don’t send salesy emails, so I’ll be brief and say that I simply wanted to introduce myself and our Web & mobile app development team at Digital Brand Group (DBG)… Our group recently launched a special services division called “Badass Programmers.”
Check us out! http://badassprogrammers.com
Our team is made up of some of the BEST Web & mobile talent you will ever work with, and we’re currently accepting new projects ¨C free beer included! 🙂
If you have any Web / mobile development, UI / UX design needs, or other design / programming related projects brewing, I would LOVE to schedule a call with you to discuss further!
Are you available for a call anytime this week or next?
Please let me know and thank you so much for your time!
P.S. You received this email because I thought you would find value in our team, but if you could care less, feel free to unsubscribe here.
Now I was thinking, “hey they’re all badass programmers, so maybe they just missed the whole ‘don’t buy some cr*p list from a shady broker'” thing. The email they spammed is the reply address from one of my systems. It doesn’t send mail unless you interact with it. Looks like one of our customers got his address list harvested and here it is, on some cheap broker’s list. but wait, these guys are a “special services division” of Digital Brand Group. You’d figure a “digital brand group” would have half a clue when it comes to marketing, right? What gives?
Let’s start with DBG, who have “offices” in Newport Beach and Trivandrum, India. Their website says that “DBG architects, designs, and develops custom Web and mobile applications with an international team renowned for delivering value through forward thinking and technology innovation” this clearly explains why they needed to spin off a services group to develop mobile applications. Or not.
Then we have “J”, “Badass in Charge”. Well, the email comes form “Jamon” and the person in charge at Badass, or at least DBG, seems to be Jeremiah Jacks, so I’m thinking someone was stoned out of their tree and really this email is from “Ja mon”. Anyway, it’s so nice that the guy writing this warm, friendly introduction letter doesn’t have the balls or integrity to sign his (or her) real name.
Now clever J doesn’t want to send a “salesy” message, as he goes on to see if he can book a sales call. Duh. Pro tip J: don’t ever try copywriting as a career. Also, turn your spell checker on.
Now we have several clever lines of “¡¡” presumably so that we won’t scroll down to find out who this ass really is. There’s the deflect in the postscript: “You received this email because I thought you would find value in our team…” No. Really, I received this email because you are frigging desperate for work, you’ve clearly burned all your referral business, and you’re resorting to a rebrand and spam campaign in order to desperately try to save your sorry ass before the receiver shows up.
And then the final tell, the thing that lets you know that “J” really does know he’s desperately shotgun spamming to get business: that unsubscribe link goes to a weird port on ironchampusa.ru. Yup, his unsubscribe link is on a Russian domain. Nothing quite says “legitimate email” like that!
The way an organization deals with email marketing, says more about their ethics and/or desperation than almost anything else. Badass Programmers has made their ethical position pretty clear (they’re also @BadassDeveloper on Twitter — because brand consistency matters). Whatever they call themselves… run away.
Now that domain registrars have made another ludicrous cash grab by charging for domain privacy services, people are opting out of privacy protection. Well, the scum of the Earth is waiting to victimize unsuspecting new registrants:
Domain Name: [redacted] (Account #nnnnn)
This email is being sent out to you because search registration for [redacted] is pending.
Please register these domains to search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo ASAP to avoid late fees.
Registering for search engines would help you show up in search results and increase your online presence.
You can register your domain at: [link]
We sincerely appreciate your business! If you require anything, we are at your service.
Remember… If you do not register your domain with the search engines, it may not appear in the search engine listing when people are looking for you. Failure to complete your domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may make it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web. Complete your search engine registration today at: www.searchregistry.org
Search Engine Registry
1787 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 1025
Washington DC, 20006
But never fear. For acting quickly, not only will you avoid late fees (???), but you get a HUGE discount. Yes, now you can pay just $100 for nothing!
Every once in a while I get a Skype connection from someone trying to sell Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Services. My standard rebuttal is to show them how my business ranks higher than theirs on a search for “search engine optimization”. We do relatively well because years ago I posted a very basic article on Realistic SEO. Generally speaking, the site isn’t particularly authoritative on the subject, so the search has the link down in no mans land on page 22 or so (for a search done in Canada; if you’re outside the country your results will probably place it on page ten million or so). If you add “realistic” to the search then it comes up much higher, but still in desperation land (page 2 or 3). (more…)
I’m at the point where if you want me to sign up for your free service, your website better have a main menu titled “Revenue Model”. Ain’t nuthin’ for free, so just come clean and tell me which piece of me you’re trying to get a slice of — or I’m likely to assume you aren’t going to last anyway.