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.
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.