Just because someone gave you their business card, it does not mean they gave you permission to added to your email list.
First, it’s illegal (CAN-SPAM Act) and spamming people isn’t a relationship builder. Instead, start by giving people an incentive for opting-in PLUS valuable content sent regularly.
Follow the same rule for people that you already have a relationship with — your past and current clients, social and real-life networking contacts and friends.
The CAN-SPAM Act prohibits the sending of commercial messages (and unsolicited messages with marketing content) through email without the recipient having specifically requested to receive such information.
Second, it can mark you as spammer.
Getting people to read your emails is hard enough. Now imagine that your domain name & email are marked as spammers so ALL messages that you send are sent to your contact’s spam box – not their inbox. It will kill your business.
Third, it’s not the best way to build a relationship.
Chances are, the person receiving the email is going to see your email and think: “I didn’t sign up for another newsletter.” They have several choices:
- Unsubscribe, with the option of reporting the email as spam
- Flag the message as spam so most of your messages will wind up in their spam box
- Delete it, so your message is ignored
- Filter it so it goes to a junk folder, so your message is ignored
- Be annoyed that you didn’t ask, which doesn’t help your brand
- Be happy they are getting the information –> that’s the result you wanted!
So how DO you legally add someone to your list?
I recommend you work with a third party service like Aweber or Constant Contact to help you properly do this. They have guidelines to follow:
I recommend a second level of permission, called a double opt-in, that has people click a link indicating their permission is granted after they are added. This gets used whether they enter their name in a form OR you add them manually.
Shift your focus to how your email marketing can help them, and start to build a real community. Start by give people an incentive for doing so, and be clear on “what’s in it for them” to be subscribed to your list. It’s NOT ENOUGH to “get updates about your company”.
What’s an incentive to signup? A simple opt-in gift is to have a “breakthrough call” with you. Later you can add a giveaway like a checklist, ebook, audio or video on demand.
Promote your list in multiple places to encourage opt-ins:
- Add the incentive to your business cards, and ASK SOMEONE when meeting them to subscribe. (Mark as YES on their cards, then manually add).
- If you don’t get permission when you meet them, send them an e-mail, call them or message on social networks asking for permission prior to sending any unsolicited emails. But FIRST — actually start a conversation! The email opt-in is secondary to REAL CONVERSATION!
- Include a link to signup in your email signature. When sending individual emails, you promote the opt-in to your business contacts.
- Add a page(s) to your website which encourages people to sign up. Successfully doing this requires web design & strategy to make sure it will lead to opt-ins.
- Drive traffic to a sign-up page on your website using social networks or ads, with a compelling incentive to sign up.
- For speaking events, use a paper signup form at each seat (collect afterwards) − clearly labeled that they will get your opt-in gift and be subscribed to your list.
- For sponsoring tables at events, use a bowl to collect business cards − clearly labeled that they will get your opt-in gift and be subscribed to your list.
- Give the option to opt-in on your contact forms on your website.
- Give the option to opt-in when scheduling an introductory phone call.
Properly setting up and using your email marketing requires strategy, design & tech setup.
It’s not really a Byte Sized Tip to explain all of the ins & outs…but knowing not to add without permission will prevent you from making a poor first impression by doing it wrong. But let’s get your business setup right!
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