Don’t Buy Optin Accelerator!

Recently, “Big Jason” Henderson of Big Marketing Online alerted me to a product called Optin Accelerator. At first I was excited about this product but I have a few very good reasons why you should NOT buy it.

The idea is freaking genius. You have a tell-a-friend form — you are asked to enter the names and e-mail addresses of 1 to 5 friends to tell them about a web site. You can offer a freebie or a big discount on a product if they fill in every single field for the 5 friends.

Optin Accelerator gives your site a unique twist on the tell-a-friend idea which just so happens to be the same reason sites like MySpace and Facebook came out of nowhere and took off so fast.

Update: Aweber Hates It!

Aweber, the leading e-mail autoresponder service, has officially stated they will now TERMINATE all accounts using Opt-In Accelerator. If you use OA or any other tell-a-friend script… do you think you are safe from legal trouble? Even with a service other than Aweber?

If you use tell-a-friend scripts, you are asking for trouble. Period.

Here is proof 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

Mike Filsaime became popular using this method and sold a script that allowed people to create butterfly marketing membership sites. Even if the site grows virally by less than 1 percent each day, it’s getting bigger without you having to do anything or pay any money, building a subscriber list, and bringing you in more sales.

Contact Grabber Plus Tell-A-Friend

Optin Accelerator takes this to the next level. Instead of asking you to type the information in, they ask for your e-mail login information. You type in your Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo!, or AOL e-mail address and password, then the script pre-populates the fields with ALL of your contacts. You can un-check people you don’t want to share with.

That means if the person signing up has 165 people in their address book (remember, when you reply to someone in Hotmail it adds them to the address book), they just told 165 people instead of 1 to 5.

Theoretically, you site could EXPLODE with growth.

But it’s not that simple… and here’s why…

Problem #1: You’re Not a MySpace or a Facebook

As a programmer, I know how this script grabs contact information. You give them your username and password, they login to your account FOR YOU, go to your “Contacts” page and read the list of names and e-mail addresses.

It’s one thing to give someone like MySpace or Facebook your Hotmail/Gmail info because you trust them. Why would anyone trust some unknown site with their login details?

Problem #2: The Script Depends on THEIR Servers

The Optin Accelerator script you purchase is just a frontend… it really dials home to THEIR servers where it does all the real work.

I can understand why they did this… sites like Hotmail and Gmail changes their login software around all the time. If they just made one change, the script would break and they would have to send out updates.

But what happens if Hotmail sees the same IP address logging into tons of email accounts and says: “Hey, stop that!” — And blocks Optin Accelerator’s servers from logging into Hotmail. Then every copy of Optin Accelerator is no longer functional.

I didn’t see any mention in the affiliate materials that Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! or AOL have given approval to this kind of script. I seriously doubt they would… especially with AOL’s strict anti-spam policy.

Problem #3: It’s Still Easy to Steal Your Information

Even though Optin Accelerator hands the login details off to another server, it would be way too easy to steal everyone’s login details and save them for later. Even if the PHP source code is encoded, you could easily store that info using an output buffer or a couple lines of JavaScript code.

If this kind of contact grabber tell-a-friend service was to kick off, it would have to be a third party service. You’d leave the person’s site and go to an SSL-secured page and enter your login details there… kind of like how you leave someone’s page and trust PayPal enough to enter your credit card details… and THEN you are sent back to the vendor’s site.

I don’t see that kind of legitimate service starting up anytime soon, because you’d have to get cooperation from those four e-mail providers.

Conclusion: Stay Far Away!

That’s why I am staying FAR AWAY from Optin Accelerator. I admit that after watching the well-done demo video, I was ready to promote it as an affiliate and write a bunch of add-on bonus scripts to offer as an affiliate. But now that the excitement has worn off… I am telling you NOT to buy it.

What’s even more ridiculous is the utter immaturity of the product’s creator… check out this post he made on an internet marketing forum…

Controversy :)

We actually worked with aweber and have had their approval that the software complies.

Seeing robert went to jason henderson jealous about the software, and wanted to reverse engineer it, but with everyones invited friends secretly being signedup to HIS own aweber account. . . I don’t really credit his opinions. To me he sounds just a tad dodgy.

Thanks for posting though, I’m glad the software has caused people to sit up and take notice :)

Um how about no.  I have never had plans to reverse engineer the software, ever.

Why would I publicly say the idea is crap on my blog… and then come out with my own version?  That would never happen.  I have been against tell-a-friend since the beginning.

Also, how would ANYONE expect to get away with copying leads to their own autoresponder and not expect to get shut down for spamming… even for a week?  (I don’t even have an account with Aweber, by the way.)

That kind of storytelling convinces me that Matt will go to any lengths to make himself sound better.

No matter what he says about it being safe with Aweber… I have the letter from Aweber saying they will shut you down, and he does NOT have a letter from Aweber saying it’s okay.  Case closed.

Many people will watch that Opt-in Accelerator video and think… “This is the one tool I need to really make it.”  False. You need to release products, joint venture, and build a list like the rest of us.

Stick with the fundamentals… they work.

What's your next move, after having read this post?

61 thoughts on “Don’t Buy Optin Accelerator!

  1. Don Morris

    The sad part is that most affiliate marketers would/will promote this product without giving any thought to whether or not it’s going to benefit the buyer, let alone harm the customer who’s filling out the form.

    And I guarantee that there will be other marketers who echo your sentiments on their blogs, yet still put their affiliate link up to profit from the controversy. Thanks for taking the high road and not putting up an affiliate link, Robert.

  2. Amar Mehta

    Hi Robert,

    Great post, as always! :)

    First when I read the title in my email, here goes another marketer the “Don’t buy XYZ product” route. Where you tell in the beginning why someone shouldn’t buy and then you you actually show them the benefit and ask them to buy the product. So many people have been doing this off late.

    I really love your honesty, integrity and the details with which you have done the analysis.

    Thanks again for the great post. I have bought almost all your products (don’t own 4), and day-by-day you are getting me addicted to your blog also. I am planning to implement your 10 comments rule soon on my blog.

    Regards,
    Amar Mehta
    http://www.amarmehta.com

  3. Paydex

    Great Post, Robert. (As Always!)

    And I like the newsletter tick in box too :)

    linkedin also has such a feature- I have found the contact information of anonymous bloggers when i (foolishly) allowed linkedin to check me emails for linkedin members…

  4. Robert Plank Post author

    So true, Don. It’s all about the JV. I’m sure those guys will make $100K minimum from the launch this week.

    It’s a really cool idea for a script, but I didn’t even think about these huge drawbacks until today when I had a chance to test it out on someone else’s blog.

    Amar: Yeah, sometimes I feel like a shitty marketer because every now and then I leave out the call-to-action on blog posts.

    Aritrim: The newsletter tick box is a feature of the latest version of Action PopUp… hint hint ;-)

  5. Henrik Blunck - Denmark

    I fully agree with Don. If a product isn’t good it would be indecent to add a link to it – one for profit anyway.

    Robert, as always, a fantastic post. Thanks for inspiring us so often and so well. :-)

  6. David L. Cross

    Excellent post, Robert. Informative and straight to the point as usual.

    I too was excited about Optin Accelerator, which led me to do a search for similar options.

    I found the “Address Book Access Widget” (which is Free) at http://www.plaxo.com/api/widget

    I would be interested in knowing your thoughts on it as well.

    Sincerely,
    David L. Cross

  7. Jason Anderson

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for the warning and your insight.

    However, I’ve never been a fan of marketers making solid recommendations “NOT” to buy something before they thoroughly research it.

    Don’t take this the wrong way but I get a feeling it’s just an excuse to blog about something and continue to build trust with your readers by saying “hey look, I WAS going to promote this like everybody else but I’m the good guy here…don’t buy it”

    You are probably correct about the fact that they didn’t obtain special permissions from AOL….

    But…..

    Are you sure?

    Point is this. Did you do your own research? Did you contact the creators? What facts are you basing this on other than a hunch?

    Like I said Robert, I don’t want you to take this post the wrong way. I’m a fan. I follow you on the Warrior Forum. I buy your products. I read your blog. And, I happen to like your style.

    I just don’t like the don’t buy “because of my hunch” approach. You may mean the best. But it just seems like more of an excuse to blog.

    To me, it would seem more sincere if you took a different approach. This seemed like sales copy to sell people that they shouldn’t buy.

    Sorry Robert…didn’t like this post at all. It’s too strong of a recommendation based on a “hunch”.

    Ok…..

    You can ban me from commenting now.

  8. Jason Anderson

    Just wanted to add one more thing.

    I just re-read my comment and I didn’t really like the tone I set. It kind of sounded like I was defending (or getting ready to promote) the program.

    To set the record straight….

    I’m not promoting the service. I’m not even an affiliate.

    That said…can’t wait for your next post Robert. I get a lot out of your blog and your products.

  9. Barbara King

    Hi Robert,

    Thanks for the heads up on this software! I’d been following the prelaunch and like so many other softwares, you don’t know exactly how it works till you have already purchased. I for one, don’t want to share my email contact list with the whole world, and I would not want to suggest it to my list.

    I appreciate your honest opinion and I can see that doing something like this could get a lot of folks banned from AOL.

    If the software just picked up 5 email contacts maybe it would be more appealing.

    Right now, I am glad I read your post and I’ll refrain from purchasing. Some folks will build a list at any cost to others.

    Thanks!

  10. Robert Plank Post author

    Jason, here is my research:

    Hotmail terms of service, item 4 (how you may NOT use the service): “use any automated process or service to access and/or use the service (such as a BOT, a spider, periodic caching of information stored by Microsoft, or ‘meta-searching’);

    GMail terms of service, item 5: “You also agree that you will not use any robot, spider, other automated device, or manual process to monitor or copy any content from the Service.”

    Yahoo! terms of service, item 18: “You agree not to access the Service by any means other than through the interface that is provided by Yahoo! for use in accessing the Service.”

    AOL terms of service, item 11: “You may not use any data mining, robots, or similar data gathering and extraction tools on the Content, frame any portion of AOL.COM or Content, or reproduce, reprint, copy, store, publicly display, broadcast, transmit, modify, translate, port, publish, sublicense, assign, transfer, sell, loan, or otherwise distribute the Content without our prior written consent.”

    LinkedIn and Facebook both have contact importers. These are unauthorized. If these tell-a-friend scripts become more widespread and people start using them for phishing purposes, who knows if these email providers will start locking it down or only letting the big sites through.

    Barbara, my beef with the product is that it logs into your account for you to get the contacts. There is no way of knowing if they stored your password somewhere.

    There is also the small issue that the script allows people to send out messages using their own account… that’s something Facebook and LinkedIn DON’T do and sounds like a quick way to get themselves banned. (But I didn’t even mention THAT part in the original post.)

    By banned from AOL, I mean AOL will ban the Optin Accelerator servers, and then all the “semi-hosted” scripts customers are running on their own sites… will no longer work.

  11. Melody

    Robert – My core business for the past 20+ years has been in payment processing and that encompasses a lot of related issues: fraud, identity theft, anti-money laundering compliance etc etc.

    Based on what I know is going on right now with a lot of these big social networking sites and various multi-letter government agencies – I would not touch anything that logs into a user’s personal information/database/address book, whatever!

    There are huge issues at play here regarding the use/misuse of personal data – and these types of ‘invasive’ scripts just make me way too nervous, knowing the potential liability if they were hacked, misused etc in any way.

    The potential for major problems is very real with these scripts. We really have no way of knowing how secure this service is – but we could potentially be held liable for any damage caused by using them.

    I totally agree with you on this one – this will be one launch that I have no intention of participating in!

    Melody

  12. Jeanette

    I inadvertently allowed a social community to grab my email database and got many emails from upset friends and contacts. I don’t want that to happen again.

  13. Pingback: Optin Accelerator - A Security Risk, and More « Helping You

  14. Ric Raftis

    I agree with you on this one Robert.

    Whilst it is suggested that TAF Scripts are very handy for building your list, I have never felt comfortable with them. The reason for this is simply that I don’t feel it’s ethical or responsible to be giving my friends’ email addresses to third parties. I’m damn sure I wouldn’t like them doing it to me.

    The script that you wrote however which allows people to TAF using their own email software and server is something different altogether.

    Cheers,

    Ric

  15. MistrTim

    Hey Robert,

    I too am becoming a regular reader of your posts, so you’re definitely doing it right!
    In more ways than one..

    This is a post that really defines your integrity Robert. You stand to receive the arrows of disdain by those who will promote Optin Accelerator, but I’m going to be recommending that people read your blog to get additional information so they can make an INFORMED decision.

    Also I wanted to agree with Melody, in fact I’ve only ever used a similar script once (funny enough with G-mail) (hmm…they won’t allow use of such programs yet they use one?? I think Yahoo does too doesn’t it?)
    and I’m sorry I did…I didn’t like it one bit!

    Mind you..the list of contacts from my outlook was rather extensive, but the problem was that most of them aren’t marketers and really don’t want their email address shared in that manner so I spent more time than it was worth removing those addresses, and this just to a free email service!

    No doubt marketers are DROOLING over the thought of accessing those prospect email lists, and I’m glad that someone’s come along to burst those bubbles. Too bad most of them aren’t looking for the “con’s” having been blinded by all the “pro’s”. (pun intended)

    It will be interesting to see how it all plays out, because most assuredly there will be marketers who WILL buy it, and they will use it, and I believe your prognosis in that there’s going to be hell to pay for it.

    Thanks for this.

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  17. John

    Speaking from the other side of the fence, if I got an email from some unknown website because someone I know had imported me along with all their other contacts, I’d be a little annoyed.

    I can’t remember which “web 2.0″ site it was that did this, but they had a huge backlash from the people who were essentially being spammed by their service.

    Honestly, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to use something like this. It’s one thing to use a tell-a-friend script to email a handful of people. It’s quite another to mass mail a person’s entire contact list, many of whom are likely not going to be interested in the information coming from the site. If I understand it correctly, that’s what it’s doing.

    I shake my head sometimes at the things that people come up with. Just because technology allows it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

  18. Bob

    We need to be careful when dealing with these sort of software programs. I receive all types of strange emails from what I believe is something like this where my email has been given to someone and then passed around.

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  20. Nigel

    Great post! Here’s my view:

    #1 if people on your site don’t trust you and your site, then you’ve got relationship problems – and plus they don’t HAVE to tell their friends, its just an option. Their is a skip button.

    #2 the api is made for stuff like this, if they ever blocked him because of one IP, he’d just move IP’s or even share it over a multiple servers. they have life time updates, so I don’t see this being an issue.

    #3 controlling people breaking the law, hmmm. so you want to control him selling to corrupt people?
    There will always be people who abuse systems & the law. Luckily its hosted so they can actually ban any unauthorized activity.

    My view, your a tad to negative dude. This is great software, and is going to kick butt.

  21. Reed Floren

    Hi Robert,

    I appreciate your concern and after looking at your web site I’m impressed with what you are doing an look forward to learning more about you and getting to know you better.

    Thank you for expressing your concerns a few friends of mine have asked for my thoughts so I will share them here.

    In response to:

    “Problem #1: You’re Not a MySpace or a Facebook”

    Yes, odds are people will not create the next MySpace or FaceBook. However I feel if you have a web site that people feel is trustworthy and they want to share with their friends they will gladly do so. For instance today I just stumbled on a search engine that helps people raise money for a charity of their choice. I feel a site like that could really benefit from Optin Accelerator.

    “Problem #2: The Script Depends on THEIR Servers”

    You are correct that we chose to host this so we can make the install easy and keep our customers updated. Now I don’t know as much about programming as you do however I would tend to agree with Nigel and it appears that we could change IP’s if we had any issues like that.

    “Problem #3: It’s Still Easy to Steal Your Information”

    I highly doubt many people who purchase that would do that or even know how. That being said I’m sure once we are notified of the issue the user will be dealt with accordingly and the situation will be resolved.

    Thank you for your insight Robert it’s been fun to watch the comments on your blog and the attention this has gotten.

    Keep up the great work, I look forward to seeing what else you do online.

    Reed Floren

  22. Robert Plank Post author

    I feel if you have a web site that people feel is trustworthy and they want to share with their friends they will gladly do so.

    if people on your site don’t trust you and your site, then you’ve got relationship problems

    There is a BIG BIG difference between trusting someone enough to hand over your e-mail address (there are always spam filters, blocklists, unsubscribe links, etc.) and handing over your username and password.

    if they ever blocked him because of one IP, he’d just move IP’s or even share it over a multiple servers.

    I really don’t like that attitude. Hotmail says no so you just try MORE ways to get around the system?

    That being said I’m sure once we are notified of the issue the user will be dealt with accordingly and the situation will be resolved.

    You won’t know until it’s too late, and you won’t know who stole the passwords. A site can stockpile lots of these passwords, then one day change all the passwords at once and use them to send out spam.

    I wish you guys good luck with the launch. I *was* totally onboard with this script. But after trying out Jason’s demo and even a little bit of research I realized how shady (borderline blackhat) this service is going to be.

    It’s not a “doomsday scenario” like Jason says on his blog, it’s just common sense. I won’t touch scripts that are iffy about breaking terms of service (tell-a-friend or 2-tier PayPal affiliate programs for example) because people get their accounts frozen. I’m not going to be one of them.

    It would be different if Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL had an approved interface for you to access these contacts, but they don’t… they specifically forbid it!

    **** You sell a script that breaks the terms of service for all 4 of these providers! ****

  23. Mike

    Great post Robert. I agree it’s a bad idea – no way I’d go near it! I know, as I sure most of us do, many people who aren’t the slightest bit savvy when it comes to online business. Imagine the consequences of such people receiving ‘offers’, from the wrong people. Sure, they don’t have to accept, but then not everybody is aware of the risks and exposing them, especially without their consent, is downright unethical to put it mildly. How is Mr. Floren going to deal with wrecked lives as a result, I wonder?

  24. Phil Rogers

    Rule number 1: Never give your password to anybody.

    Personally, I detest these Tell-A-Friend things.
    None of my friends would have the slightest interest in them.

    I have a selection of dummy email addresses set up on various domains which I use for testing my autoresponders. If I ever need to Tell-A-Friend about something, I just use those dummy addresses.

  25. Todd

    Interesting posts!

    All is not as it appears in these comments, unfortunately. As an example, one person
    applauding Robert’s obvious well-thought out comments,
    also lifted my Roller Coaster Pricing script yesterday
    just hours before he posted about “integrity”.

    Since I have a cash rebate offered on the Opt In Accelerator, this is a big-deal for me, and I have looked at it from every angle after reading Robert’s comments.

    While some of us have excellent web sites like this one with an opt-in form integral, other marketers would LOVE to take the easy -way out and use something that may get them opt-ins faster… and why not.? It appears to me that this product could bring some of the techniques used by the NOW big-guys to the average marketer who treads carefully.

    For some reason, nobody pointed out that Big Jason himself responded to Robert’s post pointing out that this may well be worth the risk and there is a money back guarantee. After thinking about this carefully, and grilling Matt of opt-in accelerator last night, it would appear that Robert may have been better off discussing this whole thing first with Matt before the review, as Matt said to me “What does he think I am , an idiot?” meaning that he had thought through all these points ahead of time. His honest reaction and subsequent discussion with me was so non-pretentious, that I feel comfortable that there is a major risk/reward factor to consider here.

    I generally agree with Robert’s cautions, but you know, all the social networking sites have moved ahead themselves with semi black-hat tactics, even big companies such as Amazon, Walmart, The University of Phoenix (grrr), are bombarding us, and using every trick in the book, but we’re supposed to sit around and let everyone else make money except ourselves. Because they make a lot of money we should forgive them, but not use their tactics? I highly recommend folks looking at this from all angles, but never forget the expression “no risk, no gain”, which certainly comes to mind in this case..

    Todd

  26. Robert Plank Post author

    Todd, the only arguments you and these guys have is either:

    1. Amazon and Walmart get away with it, so I must be able to also.
    2. Just get a refund when it gets shut down.
    3. Reed believes in his product, so he can’t possibly be wrong.

    Funny stuff!

    The whole thing that got me started on this rant is that the average person isn’t willing to hand over their username and password.

  27. Harry Crowder

    Well Robert,

    You certainly got everyone going with this one!!

    Good !!

    A little more honest criticism (real informed information) of the “next best greatest thing to come along”… is very helpful and in this case very appropriate.

    Very informative post and very entertaining comments from some “notable” IM Marketers.

    Thanks for the great content and as usual I will be linking this from my IMH Blog so anyone who goes there will be able to get this info easily.

    Trying to keep up with your launches is a task in itself but well worth the effort.

    Keep ‘em coming Rob !

    Best regards,

    Harry Crowder

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  29. Chris

    What I don’t get is even if you were going to buy it, there are much cheaper, better versions available…

  30. MG Page

    Hi Robert,
    Whenever a new product is launched I always look for reviews by someone not associated with the launch to cut through the hype and tell it like it is.

    I’m grateful that someone with your experience can review a product and rather than just offer criticism, you fill in the blanks about why you are giving it the thumbs down. It just goes to show.. “buyer beware”. It sure stopped me from pulling out my credit card. Thanks!

  31. Craig

    Robert,

    Great post however you left out one other ‘minor’ problem.

    Most average joe Internet Marketers would be running their sites on shared servers. Only the *BIG* guys with lots of websites and a tonne of traffic would be using dedicated servers.

    Keeping that in mind, most hosting companies have a limit on how many emails can be sent on a shared server. I know Hostgator (one of the biggest and more popular hosting companies among Internet Marketers) have a limit of 200 emails per hour – anything after this does not get sent.

    Lets say the average punter has around 50-100 friends in their contact list, that basically means only 2-3 people can successfully tell their friends per hour.

    Hardly going to end up the sort of growth of a MySpace or Facebook…

  32. Craig

    Oops, forgot to mention.

    Head over to http://www.getmycontacts.com.

    They sell a script that essentially does the same sort of thing but for only $29.00 – remember Optin Accelerator charges people $97 and then $17/month because it is semi-hosted.

    And there script only caters to the four main email providers but this cheaper script does 15 of the top email providers – and their is no ongoing membership fee.

    Sure, it doesn’t have a few of the personalization features of Opt-In Accelerator but if you are wanting to try a script like this out without throwing a heap of money away, I highly recommend you check out this cheaper alternative.

  33. Craig

    Oh, and anyone who uses AWEBER and is thinking of buying Optin Accelerator, then think again.

    Aweber strictly prohibits the use of ANY Tell-A-Friend forms on any site that has an Aweber opt-in form. It is against their terms and they can close down your account as a result.

    Just read this FAQ here:

    http://www.aweber.com/faq/questions/267/

  34. Craig

    Robert,

    You know what else I don’t like.

    Go to their sales page at http://optinaccelerator.com and you will never see a mention of this recurring $17/month fee. The only price they mention on the sales page is the initial payment of $97.00.

    Only when you go to order the product do they chuck in this “Oh, it is also just an extra $17 a month – but you get heaps of cool bonuses so don’t worry” attitude.

    Not great salesmenship – they have a thing or two to learn.

    Oh and make sure you all alert Aweber about this script as they have an option in the program to add your Aweber code however Aweber specifically forbids the use of Tell-A-Friend forms.

    So make sure Aweber are aware of this…

  35. Robert Plank Post author

    Only the *BIG* guys with lots of websites and a tonne of traffic would be using dedicated servers.

    I run 43 sites on my dedicated server and used 144 gigs of bandwidth last month, and have an opt-in of almost 11,000 subscribers… does that make me a big guy?

    Smart marketers who don’t have a dedicated server, who are serious about building a list, would use a third-party autoresponder service like EmailAces or 1ShoppingCart.

    As you point out, Aweber does not allow tell-a-friend… that should be a big hint for people. That’s for pointing that out, I didn’t even think to look at Aweber TOS as well.

    If anyone reading can’t be bothered to sift through all these comments, Optin Accelerator:

    1. Violates Hotmail terms of service.
    2. Violates Gmail terms of service.
    3. Violates AOL terms of service.
    4. Violates Yahoo! terms of service.
    5. Violates Aweber terms of service!! (Their program has special instructions on how to integrate with Aweber.)

    Craig, I’m not sure about something like GetMyContacts because that still breaks 1-4 above.

    E-mail marketing is difficult enough dealing with false spam complaints even when you are 100% legit opt-in, adding tell-a-friend makes it so much worse, throwing in a contact importer on top of that brings the headaches to a whole new level.

  36. Craig

    Robert,

    “I run 43 sites on my dedicated server and used 144 gigs of bandwidth last month, and have an opt-in of almost 11,000 subscribers… does that make me a big guy?”

    Yes, that does make you a *BIG* guy – was just pointing out the fact that most average marketers would not be forking out for dedicated servers. Yes, they would use a third party autoresponder service, but these Tell-A-Friend scripts use your server to send out the emails, NOT your autoresponder. So you are limited to the restrictions of your server.

    “As you point out, Aweber does not allow tell-a-friend… that should be a big hint for people. That’s for pointing that out, I didn’t even think to look at Aweber TOS as well.”

    Yes, Aweber is against these programs because of the very nature of them. You are sending email to people who have not requested it and the resulting spam complaints can end up affecting Awebers email deliverability rates – which none of us want.

    This is why I had to alert Aweber to the fact that this program was encouraging Aweber users to intergrate Tell-A-Friend with their Aweber optin forms. I’m sure very shortly Aweber will be knocking on the door of these guys and insisting they get rid of the Aweber option – which will probably make the software useless for a lot of people who have bought it. Ah well…

    “Craig, I’m not sure about something like GetMyContacts because that still breaks 1-4 above.”

    Yes, I know Robert. Not something I would use BUT if people were seriously considering the purchase, it is a much cheaper alternative.

  37. Craig

    Robert,

    Sorry for all these posts, last one, I promise ;-)

    I wanted to discuss the idea that these type of Tell-A-Friend programs, OptinAccelerator and Viral Friend Generator, both have an option whereby people can set it up so that their visitors are offered a bonus for telling x amount of friends.

    Now they sell this feature as being one of the breakthrough features and what separates them from traditional tell-a-friend forms.

    I beg to differ.

    What this means is that instead of people telling only their friends they think would want to know about the site, they are instead encouraging people to tell friends that they usually wouldn’t, just so they can get the ‘freebie’. In a nutshell, this is encouraging spam.

    Why is everyone always looking for the easy button? Instead of spending all your time looking for the quick and easy way to do things, why not build sites and products that people will want to tell their friends about without you having to push them to do so.

    If you need to rely on products like this to effectively get the word out about your site then what you have to offer probably isn’t of much worth anyway.

    Period.

  38. Robert Reuter "Black Belt Bob"

    Robert

    Great article on Optin Accelerator

    I saw the video today and was very excited about this new technology.

    I wanted to do some more research on google which led me to your article.

    Im glad I read your post.

    Your 100% right, who in there right mind would give up a login username to let some stranger hack into all your email accts.

    I never thought of the legal issues you laid out with TOS as proof.

    Im not buying.Its great you present facts, just give us an alternative solution. I dont mind if you make affiliate commission for the solution.

    PS – How about coming out with a new article What to buy instead of Optin Accelerator? Whats the best alternative and why?

    PPS – Im getting ready to set up a brand new free membership site and need some type of tell a friend like optin accelearator. I wish that optin accelerator was not so high risk, help me with alternative.

    Send me an email with the answer.

    thanks

    Robert Reuter “Black Belt Bob”
    http://www.BookCoverOmatic.com

  39. John

    Here’s a thought, create a product that people love so much they actually go to their email client and send the link to their contacts because they think it will be really useful? Novel idea huh?

    Which brings me to the bottom line on this:

    IT IS SPAM

    The strongest point I’ve seen made yet is that it is encouraging spam. There’s been no talk of the consequences faced by the users of this system.

    Plain and simple the user is initiating an unsolicited commercial email. Just because you’ve had casual interaction with someone and the email has ended up in your address book does not give you the legal right to send commercial email to them.

    And if the CAN-SPAM laws are not strictly followed, including identifying the message as commercial in the subject and putting a physical contact address at the bottom the hell to pay could be devastating for a life time.

    This thing is just a bad idea no matter how you slice it.

    Thanks for bringing it to everyone’s attention Robert.

  40. Craig

    IMPORTANT: Aweber Users Take Note

    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

    Bottom line, if you use this program on ANY site that you also use an Aweber optin form, your account will be removed. You’ve all been warned.

    If you were silly enough to purchase this program and you use Aweber, request a refund on the grounds that they have violated Awebers terms and conditions – they can’t say NO to that.

    Hope that helps.

  41. Robert Plank Post author

    Thanks Craig. As if the above post and all the comments following it weren’t enough to dissuade you from using tell-a-friend, Randolf Smith makes a very good point that doesn’t even touch on the legal issues:

    http://www.randolfsmith.com/?p=59

    If you have a tell-a-friend program AND an affiliate program, people are going to tell all their friends about your product and then not have anyone left to promote to as an affiliate. Whoops.

  42. Andy Beard

    Robert

    Glad you spoke out about this, and linkage will be incoming, as I thought exactly the same when I first saw an email about the product.

    I have been advising people for the last year not to even trust LinkedIn, Facebook with details such as a gmail account.

    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?

  43. Pingback: Optin Accelerator Closed - Too Risky? | Andy Beard - Niche Marketing

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  45. Matt Haslem

    Interesting views. Aweber is against having a optin form and TAF on the exact same page. Aslong as they are on different pages…. it obides by their TOS.

    When they contacted us regarding the suspected issue, it was very quickly resolved and they are fine with what we’re doing.

    VFG on the other hand does supply a subscribe by email address for the optin on the same page as the TAF, which is why they don’t like VFG. We’ve set things up on seperate pages so OIA complies with them and have emails backing up their support.

    Great controvesry though, some very good concerns put forward that hopefully I’ll be able to focus on and adress if we relaunch down the road…

    All the best,

    -Matt

  46. Robert Plank Post author

    Aslong as they are on different pages…. it obides by their TOS.

    When they contacted us regarding the suspected issue, it was very quickly resolved and they are fine with what we’re doing.

    Ok great, can you post the email you received from Aweber then? You have made these claims even BEFORE we got that email from Tracey Churray.

    (You also claimed on a public forum that I am a spammer and said I’ve made an OA clone in an attempt to discredit me. So forgive me for not believing you.)

    Even if you are cleared by Aweber, there’s still the small issue that this breaks Hotmail, Gmail, AOL and Yahoo TOS.

    I guess you’re hoping to stay under the radar with those guys.

  47. Charles Kirkland

    Robert

    I hade my doubts about OA from the very start and I would not promote it to my list at all. I think you are asking for trouble by using OA at all.

    Thanks
    Charles Kirkland

  48. Nelson Minica

    I found this page because I was thinking about using getmycontacts for my affiliate promotion tools.

    The Plaxo tool that David mentioned above looks pretty cool. It uses SSL and it may have a higher “trust” factor.

    The more I think about it though, the safest thing seems to be to give the user the email text and just tell them to copy it into their own email client. Delivery rates should be much higher this way than sending them from some third party server.

  49. Craig

    Nelson,

    You are right. Optin Accelerator is for those who can’t seem to build a list by providing great products and information that people want to pass on themselves.

    They need to rely on a method like this to help build their list. Personally I feel sorry for those people. You can have the biggest list in the world but if they don’t like, trust, or value your content, you won’t make a cent from them.

    Also, to say that we can experience the same sort of success as sites such as Facebook and Youtube by using this script I find is a bit of a joke. Let’s be serious, majority of us will never even come close to those sort of numbers.

    Spam complaints against a small site are going to have a lot more effect than spam complaints against a massive site such as facebook. Do you really think an email service like Hotmail is going to ban Facebook emails because of a few spam complaints??

    But on the other hand, if John Smith’s little Internet business receives the same proportion of spam complaints you can bet the email services will stand up and either ban or tone down his email deliverability.

    Also, lets hope if they relaunch this product again that they are a bit more upfront about the ongoing hosting fees. Last time it was very purposely overlooked and almost magicly appeared on your order form.

  50. Craig

    Robert,

    I forgot to mention.

    I find it funny that when you search Optin Accelerator in Google, the number 1 result is:

    Don’t Buy Optin Accelerator! (this very page)

    Nice work indeed. Maybe this could be a new way of Affiliate marketing??!! :-) hahaha

  51. Robert Plank Post author

    Originally Posted By Craig
    Nice work indeed. Maybe this could be a new way of Affiliate marketing??!! :-) hahaha

    Ron Capps did that. He agreed with a lot of my points and made his own blog posts, and got a lot of traffic to it, but at the end of his he said, “If you want to buy optin accelerator ANYWAY… here is my affiliate link.”

  52. kelly

    Well there are also others to compare with Optin Accelerator:-

    TrafficXplode 2.0 and
    ViralInviter

    It’s very easy to see why Aweber view these scripts as competition. If Optin Accelerator is illegal, so are these other two.

    If you visit sites like Plurk.com they’re also using Tell-A-Friend on steroids. Your only other way to protect yourself AFTER telling your friends is to change your Social Community membership and email password (so your emails and memberships do not get mis-used). Or not use it at all.

  53. Malcolm Patten

    Great debate. The challenge that I have with Optin A, apart from all the TOS arguments, is that if a person tells all his or her friends, he or she should be the sponsor and receive commission if their friends think it a good idea and purchase. As it is, it is the JV who collects all the commissions.

    There is an argument that those people who spot the ad and get excited about it are likely to be interested in Internet Marketing and they will be choosy as to whom they refer. Further, they may send the idea to their friends to encourage them to improve the performance of their own list building activities in an altruistic way and the thought of commission for themselves when referring their friends may be uncomfortable.

    On balance therefore, I have decided to promote it in the belief that if someone buys OA through my link, they will be savvy enough to use it responsibly, that it will be a useful tool in their arsenal, it will add value to their marketing and they will thank me for putting it under their nose. If nothing else, it makes the whole job of letting people know so much easier. No cutting and pasting unfathomable email addresses et al…

    Regarding services like aWeber, these are certainly popular but your “List” is in their hands. For myself, I chose ARP because I own my own list and it sits on my server. My growing list is most precious to me and I do not want any ‘Hands on hip’ autoresponder owner telling me what I can and cannot do. An analogy is the received wisdom of keeping domain names and web servers with separate entities.

    Warmly,

    Malcolm
    PS I haven’t had a look around your site but I am very excited about AJAX and will be looking out for posts on that topic.

  54. Pingback: Opt-in Accelerator Warning - Security Risk - Read This First! | Andy Beard - Niche Marketing

  55. Motorcycle Clothing

    Really awesome post Robert and thanks for giving us caution that not to buy Optin Accelerator! and the things you have mentioned, i must appreciate you for that.The things which login contains are private and all the matters discussed are informative.

  56. Lex

    Hi
    Has anyone heard of ‘Forced money’ program ? It has this function too.And this product is from a multi millionaire,I am told.

  57. Pingback: Opt-in Accelerator Warning - Security Risk - Read This First! | Electric Car Auctions

  58. Donal E. Moreau

    You had referred to yourself as a computer programmer.
    I am seeking computer programmers for a MLM type program.
    If I have your interest please respond.
    Regards,
    Donald

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