Bob Bly Direct Response Copywriter Official Banner

Is Internet Marketing Sleazy?

May 17th, 2006 by Bob Bly

JF seems to think so.

He was one of the people on my list who received my e-mail with the subject line: “Do you know these response-boosting secrets?”

The e-mail linked to a page where I was selling an audio learning program titled “Ultimate Direct Response Secrets.”

“When I was starting out, you were one of the people I admired and touted as a great source of information on marketing,” complained JF. “Recently, you’ve become a tireless shill for products purporting to show how to make money on the Internet.”

JF says that in my e-mail, you “offer to reveal the answers … and then direct me to a Web site that offers no answers other than to shill for yet another of your products that will contain the answers.”

He then asks: “What happened to giving some stuff away for free?”

JF is of the school that says all information on the Internet should be free.

He also seems to think that selling information products online is inherently sleazy.

What do YOU think? Am I a scum-bucket like JF says? Or is it perfectly OK for me to e-mail people on my opt-in lists notifying them of my new information products?

P.S. Had JF Googled “Bob Bly,” he would have come to my main Web site with about 50 free articles on all aspects of marketing. He also gets my monthly e-newsletter packed with marketing tips, for which he pays nothing.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 17th, 2006 at 12:57 pm and is filed under General, Online Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

65 responses about “Is Internet Marketing Sleazy?”

  1. Jason Clegg said:

    It’s understandable that JF would have such a knee-jerk reaction to yet another email trying to sell him something, especially since spam is so common now.

    But JF must remember the difference between an “opt in” message and *spam.* There is an exchange involved with opt-in email that benefits both the sender and the receiver. If JF is enticed by the “teaser,” then he can learn more by purchasing complete information. If uninterested, there is always the delete button – or, more to the point, the “Opt Out” option.

  2. Jim Logan said:

    The expectation of everything being free is nonsense. You’re in business to make money – you sell copy writing services, books, courses, and refer products you believe of good quality. Your products are quality and as such you are not a sleaze.

    People on your opt-in list (I’m one of them) should expect to be solicited to buy products you offer. Mixing the solicitation with the free stuff is part of the deal.

    Maybe you’re being associated with peers that offer little for free and do nothing but spew hype to buy their next product. There are a lot of well known people out there that do nothing but sell, sell, sell.

    The world is jaded. And rightfully so. There seems to be a lot of ezines, blogs, and one page websites out there based on gimmicks, tricks, and straw man arguments to sell products. I’ve never known you to be part of that.

  3. Steve Porcaro said:


    I agree with Jim we use the internet as a medium just to like TV, radio, or newspapers to advertise our products and services.

    If you are a true student and want to learn things you have to spend some money not all your money some money. Because as I have noticed once you purchase some products you really get into the sales pitches from other products and you can pick up alot of information if you “THINK”

    You books are in the library that our taxes pay for. Nothing is FREE everything has a cost. JF will never learn how to serve! and will continue to be frustrated!

    You provide quite a bit of FREE content on your site that is very useful, extremely useful. However the person looking at your FREE information needs to READ, THINK, and APPLY. Everyone is looking for that quick secret to catapult them.

    He does not see that what has made you so valuable is the FREE stuff you have provided that serves people, and then people decided that you have they knowledge they are looking for and pay you for more!

    Keep up the great work!

  4. Joel Heffner said:

    Receiving free information was really nice. It would be nice if that could continue. However, I understand that Bob (and everyone else) has bills to pay and is entitled to making money. Although I find it somewhat annoying to get the information product info, I recognize that it is part of the real world. I’m certainly not annoyed enough to opt-out of Bob’s list.


  5. Linda Abraham said:

    It sounds like JF may be the kind of subscriber you don’t want on your list.

    You have quality insights and products. You have honed your skills over years of hard work. Your books are some of the best out there. You have a right to charge for access to your expertise and talents.

    JF has to understand that your sharing some information freely is a way of demonstrating that expertise so that you can sell revenue-generating products. If he isn’t willing to consider the occasional marketing piece, then you don’t need him.

  6. Jay Gilmore said:

    Many of the big internet marketing millionaires persist in the “sign up to learn (enter marketing/copywriting method name here)” only to find out that you will receieve an almost daily contentless sales pitch for an information product that is sold merely on testimonials from cohorts and affilliates — never to even get a glimpse of the final product or intact content(other than a photos of the numerous cd’s, dvds or artist renderings of the ebook).

    Many of these email pitches will entice you to check out this landing page and that landing page, watch this video or that video, listen to this important message from (enter other marketing millionaire name here) and still offer nothing more than an offer.

    While I feel that people who develop information products should get paid for it, those who have to resort to misleading people to sign up for a sales pitch in the guise of free information should should quit it or cough up the content they said they would.

    This practice has made me cynical of even the most well known marketing and copywriting experts because they rarely give you any real content and continue to pitch without a full preview.

    My thought for a solution is that if these marketers gave away just 5 or 10% of their product and the recipient/subscriber actually saw a marked effect that conversions would go through the roof. If, instead they continue down this path of *ads in content’s clothing* people will eventually say, “Enough.”


  7. Dianna Huff said:

    To answer your question with another question, what is your definition of an “opt-in” list? I subscribed to your newsletter, which I’ve been getting for years. Does the fact I subscribed to your e-zine mean you now have permission to send me (or anyone) sales pitches for products?

    I don’t like it when companies send me unsolicited email. My husband took me out for a lovely brunch on Mothers Day at a country club. I entered the raffle for Boston Red Sox tickets (email address required! it said on the form). I received my first unrequested email message from them today touting green fee discounts.

    This is one reason I specifically state on my newsletter page that subscribers will *only* receive my newsletter.

    BTW, I don’t care if you pitch your products in your newsletter. I expect that.

    Dianna Huff

  8. Bob Bly said:

    DH: Why is it OK for me to promote one of my products to my list — but not, say, one of yours, even though you know I am a big fan of yours and love everything you write?

  9. Julius said:

    JF I can tell by your post that you’re a pathetic loser. My question to you is, why in the hell would you ever want to learn tips and tricks from someone who is considered to be one of the most persuasive and prolific copywriters to ever grace the western free-enterprise if you don’t like the fact that… oh my goodness, he sells stuff to people?

    What do you think a copywriter does? Think about it shit for brains. What do you intend to do with your copy skills once and if (a big if) you ever acquire them? Hmmm… No, really, what are you going to do, write specifically targeted, provacative, psychologically charged, persuasive copy that grabs your readers by the eye balls, hook them in and then simply give stuff away for free without ever having the bullocks to ask for a sale. What are you some sort of philanthropist or something? Way to “pay it forward” jackass. Don’t insult this profession and don’t insult Mr. Bly.

    As for the rest of us, or at least me anyway, I will use the art and science of copy to bring cash in for my ego, my family’s sustenance, personal enjoyment and whatever else I choose to do with it.

    Someone the likes of you should be so lucky to have been sent an offer by Mr. Bly. Guess what… If you want a free lesson in copywriting, read his offer as carefully as you can ’cause he’s just sent you a live demonstration of what copy is all about. If you still don’t understand what I’m saying, go jump in a lake.

    By the way, can someone please send me that letter to ? I’d like to follow my own advice and alas I can’t find the offer for the “Ultimate Direct Response Secrets” in my inbox.

  10. Dianna Huff said:


    Why can’t you promote your products to my list (i.e. send them an email from your server). Because email isn’t direct mail and the practices are different. And two, because I don’t rent out my email list. It’s a high-quality, double opt-in list and when people sign up for my newsletter, I specifically state I don’t give their information to anyone.

    You know I’m one of your biggest fans and have often promoted your products in my e-zine. 🙂

    Dianna Huff

  11. robin seidner said:


    I have to say that I agree with Diana. When I signed up for your e-newsletter, I assumed I would receive just a newsletter. You didn’t ask me if I wanted to get info about your products, just whether I wanted your newsletter. Meanwhile, all I have received (besides my bonus reports, thanks for that) is the promotion referenced above. I assumed this was an edition of the newsletter. It was not, and frankly, I was disappointed. Its one thing to promote your products in your newsletter (great, successful tactic), but unless you tell people this is an advertisement email (as required by CAN-SPAM) I would expect more upset subscribers. The email could easily be re-written to make it understood as a “Buy Now” opportunity. Instead, as a newsletter subscriber, I had no idea that I was being led to click through for a sales pitch. You don’t give people a way to unsubscribe from just promos, so its either get everything or nothing. This is perfectly fine and legal, but I expect that as a trust builder, you might find it better to offer people the option of just subscribing to the newsletter, or promos, or both (or none).

  12. SpongeBob Fan said:

    Bob –

    Are you a scum-bucket?
    Absolutely not.
    1000% no.
    In my experience, you are a genuinely nice and extraordinarily decent man. I have always appreciated your willingness to give me a moment or two of your time, and I have always felt I got WAY more than my money’s worth from the many books of yours I’ve bought over the years. I love how you always tell the truth in your writing about how to be a better commercial writer – you have always seemed to understand that (as Roy Williams says) the ring of truth is easily recognized. Because I heard that, I trusted — and do trust — you.

    Is it perfectly OK for you to e-mail people on your opt-in lists notifying them of your new information products?
    Your new products … absolutely!
    If it’s a Bob Bly product, I want to hear about it.

    I have noticed, though, that your last couple of ezines do seemed stuffed with other people’s products.
    And while there’s nothing wrong with that ethically – at all! – it does get a little bit overwhelming.
    (So many resources, not enough time to even read, let alone digest, ’em.)

    Are you familiar with Oprah’s magazine, “O?”
    In it, she always has a segment called (I’m paraphrasing) “Things I Think Are Great.”

    Maybe something along those lines would work for you.

    Because if there’s something you like a lot, I want to hear about it.
    And I have no problem if you get a commission for the recommendation.
    But a little of that goes a long way.
    Everything else is actually advertising, and should be presented as such.

  13. Direct Response Works said:

    […] Bob Bly had a post a couple weeks ago that’s held my thoughts for several days now. His post is titled Is Internet Marketing Sleazy? The part of his post that’s stuck in my mind is the thought of what’s free and what’s for fee on the Internet. How much information should you give away and how much should hold until you’re paid? JF seems to think so. […]

  14. Damian said:

    The mindset for internet marketing is always changing and will continue to do so. Many of those trying to pursue fortunes online are constantly chasing after the next big thing, but are failing to build the core of their businesses.

    Some say that traffic is all you need…That is only part of the equation. You can have all the traffic in the world coming to your web site, but if your web site never converts any of that traffic, then you are wasting both your time and your money.

    Others say that you just need good content and you will succeed…You can have the best content in the world, but if no one can find it and it does not compel them to take some form of action, then your expenses will continue to be more than your income.

    In order to succeed, you need to formulate a strategy that incorporates strong and compelling content, high visibility on the internet, and a long term strategic plan of attack for success.

    Marketing Made Simple

  15. Jeff Houdyschell said:


    I think it’s fine to promote products in your newsletter. If you do it too much without providing useful information, then your subscribers will eventually let you know by opting out. Just as you have the right to do what you want with your newsletter people like JF have the right not to read it.

    Don’t let people like JF worry you, keep up the good work!

  16. valentino rossi said:

    L’information interessante que vous avez! I’am allant revenir bientot.

  17. Rudrich Mel said:

    medal of honor

  18. gang said:

    The information I found here was rather helpful. Thank you for this.

  19. donne said:

    ooo! it’s one of the best sites ever! 🙂

  20. iene said:

    Great site! Good luck to it’s owner!

  21. massaggi said:

    mmm.. nice design, I must say..

  22. cartoon said:

    Was kann ich sagen? Wirklich gute Arbeit erledigt mit dem Aufstellungsort?

  23. tesine said:

    La buona visione del senso!

  24. What’s your definition of an “opt-in” email list? | DH Communications said:

    […] your definition of an “opt-in” email list? Print This Post TweetCopywriter Bob Bly posted in his blog last week that one of his subscribers took him to task for sending email touting the products he sells. Bob […]

  25. Furryglurne said:

    xyujvrtr Homepage cofjsqvn ghd straighteners afnqjmag ghd straighteners puknguuq

  26. alaplekRima said:

    hJignuOa chanel outlet dRsfgaLq chanel store bFclatVh

  27. Catarina Schneckloth said:

    Some great ideas here. I know it’s an old post, but it’s a mine of great information nonetheless! I’m about to start sending some promotional postcards out. Fingers crossed!

  28. Water Features Littleton CO said:

    Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I
    find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and aid
    others like you helped me.

  29. thetechmagazines said:

    More than your basic sports rivalry, these two schools disliked each other at least two years before they ever played their first football game.

  30. thetechiefinds said:

    People walk out of their houses on their phones, they drive while checking their emails, and walk down the street while texting someone.

  31. Youmovies said:

    Here are some specific instructions to become a better sound tech.

  32. healthlifebuzz said:

    A new word in health that is creating a buzz is the term ‘wellness’. This means a state of health where you feel energetic, look fit, healthy and youthful regardless of age.

  33. powerline io said:

    It’s great to be here with everyone, I have a lot of knowledge from what you share, to say thanks, the information and knowledge here helps me a lot.

  34. Corwin said:

    puppies for sale,pug puppies for sale in oregon,pug puppies for sale in az,pug puppies for sale in va,pug puppies near mepugs for sale,pug puppies for sale,pugs for sale near me,cheap pugs for sale,pug puppies for sale. Family, we have loved, cared, breed, and lived with different kinds of puppies for over 10 years, quite an experience. We do not consider ourselves concerned with earning money. All our Pug puppies are raised at home in a family/friendly environment making our Pug puppies completely at ease with other pets.pugs for sale,pugs for sale near me,cheap pugs for sale,pug puppies for sale,pug puppies for sale near me.

  35. robert said:

  36. bmb said:

    Faye Chrisley :- Faye Chrisley is an American reality TV star. She is well-known for playing Nanny in the American TV series Chrisley Knows Best.

    Christi Pirro :- Christi Pirro is a lawyer and a law clerk. She is well-known as Jeanine Pirro’s daughter. Jeannie, her mother, is a TV broadcaster and writer.

    Pokimane :- Pokimane is a famous Canadian twitch streamer and YouTuber. However, she is famous for her streaming on games. So, she mostly played two games

    Jean Muggli :- Jean Muggli came to popularity as the former wife of Michael Strahan, a retired professional American football player

  37. Ndure Shoes said:

    Ndure presents its wide range of basic women graphic tees online in Pakistan. Buy trendy fashion women’s cotton tees, workout dri-fit training shirts and 100% cotton t-shirts for women online. The collection comprises basic graphic tees that you can wear casually. You can trust NDURE with your online t-shirts shopping.
    NDURE brings you its wide range of polo for men. Buy your favourite Men Polos and Polo T-shirts for men and Boys online by logging into our site. Our shirts are made with pure fabric that makes you stand out. So don’t wait around and shop from our collection of online t-shirts for men.
    Ndure offers their customers the highest quality hoods and pullover hoodies for kids. Get the best available boys Hoodies and hoodies for girls in Pakistan. All types of denim jackets for girls so they can stay in comfort without compromising on style. So, come to Ndure for amazing pullover hoodies for girls.

  38. Borjan Shoes said:

    Borjan offers its customers the best shoes for men in Pakistan. We have the highest quality mens shoes and leather shoes in Pakistan for great prices.

  39. Chinyere said:

    Buy women apparels from chinyere, which is best women clothing brands in pakistan providing wide variety of women apparels in Pakistan.

  40. Rios Cosmetics said:

    Rios is a multi-brand store providing amazing Lipsticks and lipstick shades The store aims to provide satisfaction through high quality products like lipstick colour Their lipstick shades are perfect and are just what you need Rios fulfills your every demand, with their items like Lipstick kits

  41. Adilkhatri said:

    A to a great degree brilliant blog passage. We are really grateful for your blog passage. fight, law usage You will find an extensive measure of techniques in the wake of heading off to your post. I was absolutely examining for. An obligation of appreciation is all together for such post and please keep it up. Mind blowing work. ????????????

  42. Adilkhatri said:

    Sceneca Residence by MCC Land. Hotline 61004343. Get Discounts, Direct Developer Price, Floor Plan, Price List, Brochure & More. sceneca residence singapore

  43. Adilkhatri said:

    I ought to declare scarcely that its astonishing! The blog is instructive additionally dependably manufacture astonishing entitys. stainless steel coil roofing nails

  44. merckseo said:

    Exceptionally useful post ! There is a considerable measure of data here that can enable any business to begin with a fruitful long range informal communication campaign ! ??????????????????

  45. Flormar said:

    Flormar is one of the best among the new Turkish makeup brands in Pakistan. The best makeup sale on brands is available with ease from Flormar. Their products are highly successful in Turkey and will beat other cosmetics brands in Pakistan. Look your best at all the makeup brands, Flormar is becoming one of the best makeup brands in Pakistan.

  46. Servis Shoes said:

    Are you in search of the best women sneakers in pakistan ? Servis provides wide range of the latest women’s sneakers in all over Pakistan. Grab your favorite women’s sneakers online at reasonable prices with fast delivery.

  47. Adilkhatri said:

    I am scanning for and I need to post a comment that “The substance of your post is magnificent” Great work! vervoer naar luchthaven zaventem

  48. Adilkhatri said:

    Premium quality at an affordable price. The UK’s most affordable supplier of custom neon signs. UK neon signs

  49. Adilkhatri said:

    Premium Quality at an affordable price. Don’t overpay for custom neon signs. Create your own personalized neon sign now! twitch neon sign

  50. Adilkhatri said:

    Online ordering has expanded beyond just pizza delivery and fast food to incorporate an extensive spectral range of restaurant types including fine food, family restaurants and bars to make it easier for customers to obtain what they require quickly and accurately which all help your important thing regardless of what sort of restaurant you have. online takeaway ordering system

  51. Adilkhatri said:

    Extremely decent blog and articles. I am realy extremely glad to visit your blog. Presently I am discovered which I really need. I check your blog regular and attempt to take in something from your blog. Much obliged to you and sitting tight for your new post. Septic field design Calgary

  52. Adilkhatri said:

    Koshys Group is set apart in the fields of School, Management, Nursing, Allied Health Science as well as Animation & Media Studies, yielding exemplary individuals that are well-trained to meet international standards, to be successful not only in India but also abroad. nursery schools in bangalore

  53. Highway Fashions said:

    Buy the latest Pakistani Formal dresses online at Highwayfashions. Explore the latest collection of formal dresses for women at Highwayfashions. Order your favorite formal dress at low prices.

  54. Royal Leafs said:

    If you are looking for the best Hamilton pot stores, then you are at the right place. Royalleafs is a premier pot store in Hamilton. You can find online plenty of Cannabis products such as Cannabis pre-rolls, raw and milled flowers, drinks, and accessories such as bongs and vapes of the highest quality at Royalleafs.

  55. Sarmun Fashion said:

    Are you looking for the best Men’s Biker Leather Jackets online? Sarmun brings an amazing collection of biker leather jackets for men online all over America. So, grab your biker jackets today and enjoy.

  56. oil and gas jobs in mangalore said:

    I don’t think internet marketing is sleazy. It is one of the best ways to enhance your supply of product in the internet

  57. Mike Rooney said:

    Awesome blog. I have read and thought about what you said. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work!Matthew Rhys Track Jacket Extrapolations

  58. Andrew Mark said:

    Your post content is being interested by a lot of people, I am very impressed with your post. I hope to receive more good articles.
    Mid Length Wool Coat

  59. BabyBoxShop said:

    Welcome the new baby boy with a personalised touch. Our range of personalised baby boy giftsincludes an array of charming items that can be customised with his name or initials. From cuddly blankets to playful onesies, these gifts are sure to make a lasting impression on the new parents and their bundle of joy.

  60. BabyBoxShop said:

    Shower gifts are perfect for celebrating baby showers—a joyous occasion filled with excitement and anticipation. Discover thoughtful gifts that convey your best wishes to expecting parents.

  61. ?? said:

    There is perceptibly a bunch to know about this. I consider you made some good points in features also. ??

  62. BSNS Consulting said:

    At BSNS Consulting, we offer you unparalleled Business Advisory Services near me. Our team of expert consultants is dedicated to providing personalised solutions that drive growth and success for your business. Whether you’re a startup or an established company, our strategic insights and industry knowledge will empower you to make informed decisions and achieve your goals.

  63. Phyllis H Heitzman said:

    I’m continually inspired by the caliber of content on your blog. Grateful for the detailed guide on How to Calibrate Your PS or Xbox Controller in Windows 10; your insights truly enhanced my gaming setup!

  64. TipTop Enrichtung said:

    The frisierplatz is the workspace within the hair salon where styling and grooming of customers’ hair take place. Hair is cut, styled, and colored here to achieve the desired look.

  65. Bug Zapper said:

    The need for environmentally friendly pest management solutions is rising along with environmental consciousness. We’ll talk about how eco-friendly methods such as using rechargeable batteries and electric insect zappers allow for efficient pest management without compromising the environment.

Leave a Reply