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Email Address Collection: What Not to Do

The first step to successful email marketing is permission. If a person does not want information from you, then don’t even attempt it. Some people believe that permission is transferable. The assumption is that if someone has any relationship at all with you, then they will be open to receiving emails. If you agree with that assumption, then keep reading.

The only way to get permission to email someone is to ask them directly.

But believe me, the last thing you want to assume is that you have permission to send email to a group of people who, (1) don’t like you or (2) don’t remember you. Feel free to do this if you want to get marked for spam or junk, though. When you are talking about the direct mail world, spam and junk end up in the trash can. In the email world, they land you in big trouble with ISPs such as Yahoo!, Hotmail, and Google. Do you really want to jeopardize your reputation and find yourself blacklisted based on an assumption?

Here are some email address collection no-nos:

  • Email appending: Very similar to the point I made above is an email append. The assumption is, you have people’s information, so that means there is a preexisting relationship that means they want to be added to your email list. But you don’t have anyone’s email address, only their home address and/or name. The companies that can provide this service have spent lots of money acquiring information to build a huge database of email addresses with some type of data that corresponds. Don’t waste your money. The ROI is absolutely horrible. It costs a lot of money to use a service like this and even if you get someone’s email address without them giving it to you, it still does not mean you have permission to email them in the first place.
  • Selling or renting lists: If you need to make a quick buck, don’t do it this way. Everyone has had this happen to them before. You buy a little item for your family member or friend…something like an automatic pooper-scooper as a Christmas or birthday present. Next thing you know you are receiving offers for similar products from every single other company that carries products in that genre. And little do they know that you don’t even have a pet! But again, if you want to ruin your trust, then feel free to sell or rent someone’s data.

I want to bring up one more thing. Always, and I mean always, choose quality over quantity. Just because you have 700 friends on your favorite social network does not mean that you could call any one of those friends when your car breaks down on the side of the road and expect them to come and help you out. Think about what is worth more: 50 friends who will pick you up when stranded or the fact you can tell people you have 700 virtual friends who won’t do a darn thing for you but “like” your posts.

Getting permission is the first step to building a lasting relationship. Relationships come from relevance and targeting, not from frequency or random communications.

Photo credit: Shawn Campbell

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