According to a Direct Magazine survey of DMers concerning the online practices scheduled to come out in September's issue, 14% of traditional business-to-consumer DMers say they send marketing emails to people on an opt-out basis. "And it's not just fly-by-night direct marketers that are spamming. I personally have received unsolicited e-mail from Circuit City, Kmart, Colgate-Palmolive, Williams-Sonoma, Plow & Hearth and, of all things, Smithsonian magazine", Ken Magill says.
The sad thing is that this practice is even legal in the US (except for some states like Utah). But let's be clear: even if it's legal, that doesn't mean that it's the right thing to do! How do you feel when you receive an email in your inbox that you did not sign up for? Do you "report it as spam"? I know I do. I have zero tolerance for emails that arrive in my inbox without me requesting them -- unless they are highly relevant to me.
So be careful: by running your email program on an opt-out basis, you risk having high complaint rates at the big ISPs and that will serious impact the inbox delivery of your future emails. Keep in mind: ISPs are under no obligation to deliver your emails.