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Just because someone gave you their business card, it does not mean they gave you permission to added to your email list. Here’s what you may not know about email marketing…
First, it’s pushing the guidelines of the CAN-SPAM Act.
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.
I suggest you 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 grey area about the CAN-SPAM ACT is that you MAY ASSUME they gave you permission, why they did not. For example, I give my business card to a lot of people as it has my DIRECT contact information on it. It’s the email that I use with my clients, so I don’t signup for newsletters with that email address. I have another one that I use, and check regularly, but not as much as my primary email. I am on the lookout for 1-on-1 follow-ups from my contacts. NOT a generic email newsletter.
Second, it can mark you as spammer—and spamming people isn’t a relationship builder.
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!
When someone ASSUMES that I signed up for their newsletter, it puts me in an awkward situation. There may not be an easy way for me to change my email address. This new contact is taking up my valuable time as a primary interaction with them to try and do that. If I unsubscribe, I run the risk of hurting an otherwise good relationship, because they were too pushy.
Building business relationships is like dating. You have to give someone some space to get to know you. Don’t get pushy trying to get into their inbox too soon!
So how DO you legally add someone to your list?
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.
All services have training and resources available to teach you what you need to know.
NOTE: This IS TIME-CONSUMING, so decide if you have the time to invest in doing this correctly before starting an email list!!
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”.
Start by giving people an incentive for opting-in PLUS valuable content sent regularly.
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!
TAKE ACTION: Schedule a FREE Brand Breakthrough session and see if I can help with your email marketing.
Hello Service-Based Entrepreneur,
I know it’s easy to get overwhelmed by reading blog posts full of ideas, tactics & tools. Be honest...
- How frustrated will you be trying to implement this on your own?
- How much time will you waste if it's not your next best step?
- Did you just take the time to read this but you won't make any changes?
- Or are you ready to take a small next step to build your brand?
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To your success,
Marketing Strategist & Designer
I offer a blend of 30+ years of expertise in marketing, websites, brand identity, strategy, tech solutions, and more. I work with service-based entrepreneurs to start & grow their brands. I use a practical and flexible approach to adjust to changes in your business & life. Toolkits & done-with-you planning create your strategy. Then add on other services for a custom solution.