Optin Accelerator Closed – Too Risky?

When I first read about Optin Accelerator I had a few initial thoughts

  • It took a long time for internet marketers to copy the viral signup mechanisms used by many internet startups, including the more established Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace etc.
  • It is a massive business security risk
  • People are going to buy it and use it and their customers are going to face the risk
  • Some of my subscribers might damage their business either by using it for one of their sites, or giving their account access away.

Now I hoped that as soon as people realised it was a bad idea despite having massive viral potential, the product would be pulled.

Currently it looks like the site has been closed – I have high regards for Reed Floren and Matt Haslem who launched it, so I am assuming it is off the market.

That being said, I have seen a few people using it still – if it is just limited circulation, some people need to be a little careful.

So where did they go wrong?

What Did Optin Accelerator Do?

Quite simply you hand over your login information to your primary email account, and it scrapes addresses so you can send an email to all your friends about a new service you have found, or product.
Yes… exactly the same process as is used by many Web2.0 sites, but you don’t have to worry about the technical details of how things work, because the script is on their servers, and calls home.

This means that your subscribers are sharing their personal login information to their email account with a 3rd party just to promote your product.
The big guys are generally using 1st party scripting, still risky but at least you know who has your data (I would never use it though)

Robert Plank has gone into that aspect of Optin Accelerator in some depth

Here is part of the comment I left on his blog post

Google has unified login, so does Yahoo and MSN.

By handing over login information, you are hading over not only your email (which could be full of important passwords for affiliate accounts) but also providing access to Adsense, Adwords, Google Analytics, Google AppEngine (if you are a geek)

It would also allow someone to reset every password you have which sends resent information to your emil, such as all your wordpress blogs, hosting etc.

Handing over this information is throwing your whole internet business into turmoil.

Would you want to encourage your own subscribers to do that?

Robert has actually gone through all the terms of service of each of the large online email services, and it seems handing over your account details is breaking their terms and conditions. How the hell do the big guys get away with such a security risk?

If that isn’t bad enough, it has been determined

  • It is against Aweber’s terms of service (as are all tell-a-friend scripts) – that being said, I know people who use tell-a-friend scripts who primarily use Aweber – I have no idea how they get away with that.
    A guy in Robert’s comments (Craig) posted a response from Aweber

    Thank you very mush for bringing this to our attention. We have taken action to contact the owners of that product.

    Please understand that this was done without our consent, and will be fully addressed. We take many steps here to ensure your deliverability, including monitoring the use of customer accounts, so that even should someone use this type of program without our consent, we would remove them from the service.

    Thank you again for bringing this to light. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to let me know.

    Regards,
    Tracey Churray
    Director Of Customer Solutions

  • Most hosting affiliates use would have problems handling the emails being sent, unless they are using SMTP through Gmail for instance
  • If it is a really good product, shouldn’t you be promoting it as an affiliate?
  • Melody from Women’s Net also mentioned the possibility of liability
  • Plaxo provide fwidget for free that could be integrated to achieve effectively the same – that is slightly less risky (suggested by David L. Cross)
  • Randolf Smith goes into the nature of email address books (all those friends and family) – how many are really interested in a specific product? Also as an affiliate, why would you promote something for free? At least Tell-A-Friend scripts often pass on your affiliate links, but that only works down one level – if it is really good, isn’t promoting to your list or blog readers better?

People You Know vs Sending Email

If you are going to use one of these scripts, it is much better to use the export and import contact list options often provided.
If there isn’t anything provided, you can also create a new email account just for importing contacts which has no private information.

I can see a real reason to find people you already know on a service – maybe services should be using the MyBlogLog API in a smart way.

If your service encourages every person who joins to send out 100s of emails, it becomes spam even if it technically isn’t if they are personal contacts, and you are doing it in a non-professional capacity.

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Comments

  1. Jason says

    Oh how I pine for the good ole days before this blog was 50% sales talk.

    Please bring back the quality content and lose the salesmanship.

    • says

      Jason this blog has always been a mixed bag of stuff that is interesting to various people trying to “earn a crust” from what they are doing online.

      I should actually cover more email marketing related topics.

      I should also repeat at least once per day that people shouldn’t give their Google account details to 3rd parties.

      • says

        Hi Andy,
        I am desparate to know more about Email marketing, but in an ethical way. I dont want people coming to my hard written blog just for the heck of few points.

    • says

      I’ve worked with both Aweber and GetResponse. Aweber has higher deliverability and better customer service in my experience.

      The problem you had with Aweber is you were, as you mention in your article, promoting sexually related content. You make the point your images were not hosted on Aweber’s servers, etc.

      What you fail to realize is the potential damage to ALL Aweber users and to the company itself if ISP’s receive too many complaints about adult content.

      Aweber may not be a good choice for you, but they are the best choice for most of us.

  2. says

    Call me old fashioned, but I kinda like the idea that if you know people, and they are people you email anyway, that you can tell them yourself about your posts. Are you trying to make a profit? Sure. Are you selling yourself? What not. However, I don’t think that you need to farm out those services to someone else — that really takes the personal touch outta blogging. Blogs have always been a nice mix of sales and information, but the one thing that has always kept them pure was that they are talking with people by people. If we lose that personal touch, then it’s like any other conglomerate hodgepodge of worthlessness.

    • says

      I agree that you should do your own dirty work. If you do not feel comfortable emailing something to a friend, then don’t pawn it off on a 3rd party.

  3. says

    It’s pretty common sense not to give your login details to a third party. I don’t really see how many people can argue with that contention (especially when, as Andy says, you’re handing over so much mor ethan just an email address).

  4. says

    I am glad optin – accelerator closed. It was a very risky business model and I dont like my email address being imported all over the place.

    I setup a special email address just for Linkedin. And in that email address I get non stop invitation from Linkedin members for to join other social networks using a the optin – accelerator system grrh….

  5. says

    I never would share any of my account data with any third party service. Not a big Web2.0 platform nor an unknown provider.

    Your notion about that this referred traffic will be most likely not targeted is a very good one.

    Regards to AWeber: After having correspondence with AWeber support about a specific tell-a-friend service (TAF) I got the subjective impression, one can do much more with AWeber, IF one is a very profitable affiliate of theirs (more than the published terms allow). That’s all I can tell as an outsider.

    Thanks for your post.

  6. says

    Thanks Andy for the heads up
    I personally don’t use opt in generator

    I really believe that the opt in list is most effective when your prospects actually ‘opt in’ to your list.

    Scrapping emails from your in box and such tactics is bound to result in a whole bunch of unopened emails

    And the honest truth is ‘at what stage does it become spam?’

  7. says

    Andy, I have been editing Wikipedia for 9 months now. Recently I have been blocked and now undergoing mediation process on my talk page. If you want to see the inner working of Wikipedia I welcome you to come take a look at Wikipedia.

    I think it will be a very interesting experience and will shed some light on the Dark Side of Wikipedia.

    If you or your guest have advice as to Wikipedia and would like to share it with me and the other guests of my blog please post it on my blog.
    http://www.igorthetroll.com/blog/wikipedia-igorberger-mediation/

    Thank you,
    Igor

  8. says

    Andy,

    I don’t believe they closed doors for good — they just filled their membership to capacity.

    FACT: They were only accepting a set amount of members and when they reached that point, they closed the doors to prevent flooding the marketplace.

    Take another look at that HTML page, it even tells you to add your name to the list if you want to be notified when it’s brought back onto the market.

    Meaning… when somebody drops from their membership, they will have more room. Sad, but true.

  9. says

    This makes me wonder how big sites like MySpace or Facebook get away with using this technique- if it’s wrong for the little guys to use, why is it OK for those big companies?

    Personally I never fill out TAF forms- if I want to let friends know about something I tell them directly, since they may not want me giving out their info.

    Of course that doesn’t mean other people feel the same way, but I still have to question how useful these new “subscribers” are when they didn’t sign up directly.

    Most people’s address book is likely to have a lot of people who don’t share every interest.

  10. says

    Czesc Andy,

    Thanks for this great post. I’m a certified computer security pro and was not really aware of this. I have some more research to do now.

    While you alluded to it in your post, Google is now trying to get people to work from one consolidated account for all of their services, so if you give out your password for Google Mail (not allowed to use the other word in Europe, remember? :) ), you’ve given out the password to everybody.

    Besides, I have hundreds of contacts in my Gmail account; why would I want to send silly emails to everybody in it?

    Thanks again, and keep up the good work.

    Best regards,
    Tom Brownsword, CISSP®

  11. Pete Dennery says

    Is the site really closed?

    As of a few minutes ago, typing in the main site URL redirects to this page “http://optinaccelerator.com/launched.htm.”
    The payment button is live and leads to paydotcom for $147 payment.

    Makes me wonder…

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