When starting a list for email marketing, is it appropriate to add contacts to the list without the person signing up for the list?
Let’s say you are new start up and you don’t yet have a large following. However, you want to send an email newsletter to people with whom you have some connection and probably have an interest in what you are doing. Assuming the newsletter has an opt-out link, is it appropriate to add existing contacts ((i.e. clients, friends, acquaintances, LinkedIn contacts etc.) who have not personally completed the sign-up form?
One of the things that I did when I first started my list was sent an email to everyone who I had a business card for.
It sounded something like this...I wouldn't presume to add you to my email list just because we met. But, I did want to give you the opportunity to join if you are interested. Here is what I send and how often. If you want to join, here is the link.
I got about a 35% response rate of people joining my list - and the way I look at it, they are the people who REALLY wanted in.
I hope that helps!
Absolutely not. This is considered spamming. That is the purpose of the opt-in list. If people have not opted in, you can't send it to them. You would need to personally contact them first before you proceed.
People on your list must agree to receiving your newsletter or else you are wasting your time as the Newsletter will only go in the trash. One way to get around this is to send an email with a copy of the Newsletter asking them if they would like to receive a copy and letting them know the frequency of the distribution.
To my mind, there are two separate questions here. The first is whether such a practice is legal. The second is whether, if legal, is it a good idea.
On the legal side, here's some guidance: http://www.business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-compliance-guide-business. Need more? Please consult an attorney.
On the practical side, put yourself in the shoes of the person receiving your emails. Assuming they have a link to you, how close is that relationship? A friend probably won't mind receiving a message from you and be glad to hear you're starting a business. A LinkedIn contact? Maybe. Are they likely to respond favorably to the message? If not, don't include them.
Think, too, about the type of message. Is the message announcing what you're doing or is it trying to pitch a product or service? Again put yourself in the shoes of the recipient.
There are many ways to get people on your email list or to send messages to them without sending them what might be considered SPAM.
You should have two lists. One for people who have already opted-in. And one for those who have not. For the list of people who have not signed in, I would acknowledge that you are sending them this free newsletter because you believe it would be of value to them, and request that they opt-in for future newsletters. People who have opted-in are going to be your your best audience, and will avoid you being labeled as a spam.
Only if you want to tick them off. I personally hate unsolicited emails.
Start a blog to show them value in what you are selling
Network with other people to get your name out there
Run a social media campaign
For me, unsolicited email goes the same place junk snail mail goes, to the trash.
I would not advise on adding people without their consent.
What I would advise is to write either a custom message to each, informing them you've launched a new business and it would be great to have their support in spreading the word.
Or to write a press release and a blog post and advertise those two through all media channels possible.
But the first option, of personal messages, would be great, trust me. :)
No I would not as others have said. However if you have the email addresses and other contact information, I would send them personal emails and tell them what you are doing and ask if they would like to sign up and if they could refer you.
It takes more work but worth the effort. It is better to have 100 good contacts than 1000 ones who ignore your emails.
To protect yourself it is best to have an opt-in link as most G20 countries have strict anti-spam legislation. This applies even if your Company is in the U.S. If you direct emails to anyone in Canada for example, their anti-spam legislation would apply because the recipient is in Canada. The fines are $1million for individuals and $10 million for Companies that do not comply. It's not worth the risk.
If you have an opt-out method that is clear and direct and comply with all of the other requirements of the "canned spam act", then my answer is Yes... under certain conditions:
1) People have put their business cards in a drawing of yours at a tradeshow.
2) You have formed a business connection on LikedIn and written to them something like "good to connect... etc., etc. Let's keep each other on our newsletter lists".
3) You meet people at business locations like Chamber of Commerce, etc.
4) Your newsletter is truly of value and not just a sales message.
Depending on the country or territory, this is illegal for one. In countries or territories where this is legal, you are in real danger of annoying people with spam and losing credibility and so potential leads were you to go about this more professionally. Professional would be that the individual had opted-in to receive your email.
Send them a "jane smart" letter... with their name on it introducing your company and asking them to join your newsletter because it contains... bla, bla
Send them a postcard announcing your newsletter
Send an email to your LinkedIn connections.
But above all, don't put someone on your mailing list who didn't sign up themselves. And don't force someone, who didn't sign up, to have to unsubscribe from something they didn't register for.
Check the Can Spam laws of 1999/updated in 2003.
Generally, I'd say no. I can see some grey areas in a couple of your answers here, such as wording for those people you've spoken with. There are a number of ways to find subscribers, among them is blogging. A rock bottom way to ask for subscribers is to find your target audience and simply call to ask if they'd be willing to subscribe.
Interesting question! With the advent of new technologies, you don't even have to worry about such issues anymore. A great email marketing platform would have a "double opt in" in place. This ensures your contacts opts in WILLINGLY and not conned into receiving mail from you without their permission.
I don't see any sense in having 10,000 contact list and only 500 open your emails...That is a waste of good space:).
"Helping businesses communicate better"
One needs to be careful sending me spam, especially that which offers no useful information and basically blurts stuff into my face. One can often expect followup from me that is less than nicely worded.
I think a lot of us have that reaction, but I often spend a minute and do an action. It is amazing to me how many lists I can get on. I have a doctorate, so these medical list companies sell my name to innocents and I trust that my reply generates a little more feedback.
I sell cartoons around "Square Wheels" so some construction list company thinks I would like to receive spams from heavy equipment vendors.
I do not.
It depends. Technically it is okay if you include a means of opting out. There are certain spam requirements that prevent ill will. I would also introduce yourself first sentence, how you got their contact info and why you are reaching out.
That said, if implied consent is not given, you will upset a subset of your audience. That is a risk you need to define - is this relationship worth risking? Usually if you've never met someone, they are going to be turned off by a random communication. But typically it is a smaller subset of those that are interested in hearing about you (assuming you have some initial relationship with them).
I feel in is well within bounds to be honest, genuine, and tell them why you are reaching out. Provide an opt out option that is easy to see and takes effect immediately.
It would be appropriate to send your contacts an email asking them to JOIN your list. Most email marketing companies will require an opt-in to adhere to CANSPAN laws. You should make it very easy for them to join the list, with a large button and not have to re-populate information. Hope this helps!
The short answer is no. If you send individual emails to those folks that would be ok. If you send a broadcast email to them you are floating in dangerous territory. People are supposed to be provided the option to specifically optin to your email communication. If you send unsolicited emails (based on the fact that they did not optin...you could run into trouble). An alternative is to rent a list or upload that list to facebook and build a custom audience and advertise specifically to those folks asking them to optin assuming you are providing something of value to warrant them opting in.
I would have to say no but if you were to send these same people a link to or the actual sign up form, they may just surprise you and fill them out.