Don’t spam your list

Like many of you, I belong to a few business networking and education groups. They are a valuable source of potential leads, joint venture partnerships and even great ideas. So imagine my disappointment when one of the group’s members started spamming us with emails that was marketing speakers and websites with obvious affiliate links.

His facebook friend request? That got the “ignore” click. His emails? The delete button. His potential to provide a service to me? Nonexistent.

As a marketer he should really know better. With just a little education and use of the right tools, you can avoid following in his footsteps. As soon as you start using email to talk about your business and your services and products you need to avoid the “spammer” trap.

CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

In 2003, President Bush signed into law the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. I think it is helpful to know what CAN-SPAM stands for: “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing”. The key is “Non-Solicited”. Just like you may not like uninvited salesman at your front door selling you vacuum cleaners, un-solicited marketing by email has the same taint to it …. and it’s illegal to boot.

While covering the CAN-SPAM Act in it’s entirety is beyond the scope of this article, here are the two things you need to know.

  • You must give the receiver of your email a way to tell you they don’t want any more emails from you. This is calling “opting out” and usually done by providing an “unsubscribe” link.
  • You must honor the removal request within 10 days according the Act(but really it needs to happen a lot sooner than that).

Many privacy activists felt the CAN-SPAM Act was ineffectual and didn’t go far enough. Some went so far to call it the “I can spam Act”. For these reasons the ESPs (more on what that is in a moment) that legitimate businesses use set a higher standard. The removals happen quickly, usually within 24 hours. And many businesses take advantage of the “double opt-in” feature and send invitations for you join their list before even one marketing email is sent. That perfect client you met at last week’s business event may need a reminder to remember you, and an invitation to continue the conversation by joining your list is a graceful way to keep you in the forefront of their mind.

What are ESPs?

ESPs are email service providers. There are a number of excellent ones on the market, and for a monthly fee they will store your contact list, send the emails for you, help you build in your opt-in box or link, and handle all the details of email marketing, such as complying with the CAN-SPAM Act by: 1) automatically generating the unsubscribe link in each email you send through their tools and then 2) doing the right thing when someone clicks on it.

Some of the ESPs even enforce the “double opt-in” feature, where any existing list of contacts you upload into their system will be sent an email asking permission to be placed in their system. While it can be painful to lose those contacts that don’t respond, your resulting list will be of higher quality.

If you remember one thing from this article, it is that you want to do Permission based email marketing. You always want to have a user’s permission before sending them an email.

If that business network member had gone through a few extra steps to have an unsubscribe link in his email, I would have thought so much higher of him. And maybe I would have even clicked on one of his links, earning him a commission.

About the Author Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a traffic and conversion expert specializing in SEO, Copywriting and Facebook Ad Campaigns. In her spare time she loves to get outside.

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1 comment
Lewis Edgehill says January 6, 2011

Do you people have a facebook fan page? I appeared for one on twitter however could not discover one, I would love to become a fan!

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