White Hat vs Black Hat Email Marketing: Which Is Better?

When it comes to promoting your product via email marketing, there are two schools of thought: white hat and black hat. Which is better? That’s a question you’ll have to answer for yourself, but here’s a quick primer on what each refers to.

The White Hat Approach

The white hat approach to email marketing is one that promotes honesty and openness. You’ll find white hat marketers at networks like Hootsuite and Marketo, who strive to build trust with their subscribers by being upfront about the fact that they’re trying to sell something and by providing valuable content that’s also relevant to what they’re selling. This is in stark contrast to the black hat approach, which as its name would suggest, is one that promotes deception and hiding the truth. You’ll find black hat marketers at larger networks like MailChimp, who have built their reputations by hacking email lists and using deceptive practices to promote products.

The Black Hat Approach

The black hat approach to email marketing is one that many people have turned away from in recent years. It’s often associated with spam and junk email, and it’s a school of thought that prizes covert tricks and deceptive practices. The biggest names in black hat email marketing are the infamous Skimbit and Massive, both of which were founded by the brothers Ed and Phil Ruffin. They’ve built their reputation by getting people to click on links in their emails that take them to infected websites that then infect them with malware. You’ll often see black hat emails promoted with language like “for a limited time only” and “one-off discount,” which implies that you’re not going to get this special offer again. If you opt-in to receive these kinds of emails, you’re going to be hit with a ton of spam.

What’s the Difference?

The difference between white hat and black hat email marketing is that the former promotes openness and trust while the latter promotes manipulation and deception. It might seem like they’re opposites, but in reality they can (and often do) go hand-in-hand. People who subscribe to and believe in the white hat approach will be more engaged with your content and more likely to buy your product or service. That’s because they feel that you’re being upfront with them and aren’t being sneaky or manipulative. On the flip side, people who believe in the black hat approach will be more suspicious of your content and whether or not they’ll willingly engage with it. They might see your email as a potential hack attempt or spam attack and, therefore, be less inclined to read it.

Why Is it Important to Tell The Difference?

If you want to promote your product or service via email marketing, you need to decide whether you believe in the white hat or black hat approach. Why? Because it ultimately comes down to whether or not you want to build a trusting relationship with your audience or whether you want to cheat them. Just remember: you’ll never be able to please everyone, so it’s important that you choose one approach and stick with it.

Which One Should You Choose?

As we mentioned above, it’s important to choose one approach and stick with it. If you want to go with the white hat approach, do everything in your power to ensure that everyone you communicate with understands that this is an honest and transparent attempt to grow your business. The more open and honest you can be with your audience, the more they’ll trust you and be receptive to your offers.

If you want to go the black hat route, build a reputation for being secretive and deceptive, and watch your open rates and engagement levels drop as a result. Remember: you’re only as good as your word, so if you say you’re going to send something, send it. But, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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