I recently received an email from an organization with whom I have never communicated, done business, exchanged neither business cards nor pleasantries. No, not one of those “little blue pill” pushers or “I will send you $50 million for 50% of the profit” scams; this is a legitimate and local organization, and one that I know is in the business of bringing positivity to the world. Sounds like my kind of people, right? So, what’s the problem?
Well, the “problem” is that in using my email address without my permission, this organization broke the law. Having recently fought email account suspensions for suspected spam on behalf of some of my clients, and, more importantly, being in the business of building and maintaining excellent client relationships, I take this seriously.
Wait a minute… ‘broke the law’? ’email account suspension’? Yep. But I’m not writing this to be preachy or to scare anyone (although the implications for email abuse are serious), so for now I won’t go into the nitty gritty of all that. Instead, I’d like to share some do’s & don’ts according to the law (the CAN-SPAM act), focusing on how these email practices impact your client relationships.
What not to do…
- Do not sell or share your email contacts. Likewise, do not ask for, purchase or otherwise obtain others’ email contacts. The use of so-obtained email addresses is not permitted according to the law. We all know how inbox overload makes us feel. When we receive marketing email from an individual or organization with whom we have no relationship, at best we wonder how they found us; at worst, we are annoyed, angry, resentful, etc. Usually, we’re fairly easily able to determine the source; and our relationship with that individual/organization, no matter how positive and long-standing is immediately brought into question. Now, two business-client relationships are soured. Yikes!
- Do not “scrape” email addresses from websites, social media pages, newsletters or other marketing materials to add to your marketing email contacts database. For example: I provide consulting and communications services for practitioners in the fields of holistic health and personal growth. Like any small business owner, I’m always looking for new potential clients, so I do a quick Google search of nearby wellness centers and can easily put together a list of nearly 100 names and email addresses. What I cannot do according to the law, and would not do because it falls outside my code of ethics, is take that list and upload it to my marketing email database (I use MailChimp; there are several others, such as Constant Contact.)
What to do…
- DO send personal, individual emails, from your own business email account (NOT your marketing email program such as Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc) to folks with whom you are interested in establishing relationships. Introduce yourself, let them know how you obtained their email address and why you are reaching out. THEN, if they respond and the relationship is established, let them know you would like to add them to your newsletter/promotional email list and approximately how how often they can expect to receive emails from you. You have now established yourself as a respectful and respectable practitioner!
There is much more to share on the topic of wise emailing, so I will leave this to sink in and return with more soon!
Have a question or comment? Please leave a comment below; I would love to hear from you!
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