Email Marketing Tips: #1 Get Permission

This is the first blog post of a new series giving you email marketing tips that will put your email marketing way beyond the competition.

Spam. You get it, I get it, and we all hate it. Did you know that 94% of all email is spam (New York Times)? It’s insane how much of it is floating around in everyone’s inbox.

With so much spam around, here’s the most important thing you can do when setting up your email marketing campaign:

Get Permission

No one likes getting newsletters in their inbox that they don’t remember signing up for or agreeing to. These days, getting one of these unprecedented emails is enough to make readers immediately unsubscribe before reading what you have to say — or worse, flag you as spam.

Even if someone wrote down their email when buying a product or attending an event, if you didn’t mention that their email would be added to a newsletter list, then you don’t permission to add them to your email marketing list. You need to be explicit, not sneaky. Here are some of the things to avoid when developing an email marketing audience, and ways to grow your email marketing audience legitimately.

Bad Examples

  • Buying your list off someone else
  • Stealing or randomly generating a recipient list
  • Adding everyone who has bought a product from you online or has given you their email for some purpose other than subscribing to your newsletter
  • Automatically adding and check-marking the “subscribe” button on a sign-up form for something other than your newsletter

Good Examples

  • Adding a newsletter subscription form to the front page of your website for visitors to use
  • Adding an optional checkbox for newsletter subscription to info forms at events
  • Using a double opt-in method, like a confirmation email with an opt-in link

Why We Recommend Getting Permission

Besides being annoying and very similar to spam mail, here is why some of the bad examples are particularly bad. They are against the CAN-SPAM Act requirements.

“The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) establishes requirements for those who send commercial email, spells out penalties for spammers and companies whose products are advertised in spam if they violate the law, and gives consumers the right to ask emailers to stop spamming them.”

CAN-SPAM prohibits:

  • “Harvesting” email addresses from Web sites or Web services that have published a notice prohibiting the transfer of email addresses for the purpose of sending email
  • Generating email addresses using a “dictionary attack” – combining names, letters, or numbers into multiple permutations
  • Using scripts or other automated ways to register for multiple email or user accounts to send commercial email
  • Relaying emails through a computer or network without permission – for example, by taking advantage of open relays or open proxies without authorization. (Federal Trade Commission)

Here’s the bottom line:

You want your readers to WANT to read your emails. Getting permission will insure you don’t annoy your readers or get marked as spam.

Plus, wouldn’t you rather have a smaller group of dedicated readers than a massive list of readers who don’t care and/or feel spammed by your email? We thought so.

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