3.5How NOT to Build Your Email Contact List

What we have been attempting to stress in this chapter is that permission is the key component to building up a quality email list. It is also the most important factor in ensuring that you are not sending out what some people might consider SPAM.

There are instances where a person might accuse you of SPAM even when you have complied with all of the CAN-SPAM provisions. It is likely that eventually, someone out there may think that you are sending him SPAM. There are, however, a few practices that are almost guaranteed to earn you some SPAM complaints. You should explicitly avoid the following:

• Do not purchase an email list from companies offering you to keep it as a data file. Any company selling you these most likely did not receive permission from the email address users. These files are also likely bought and sold to many different organizations, all sending their emails to the same people. Imagine all the SPAM one of those users is receiving. You do not want to lumped in with these Spammers.

• Do not collect email addresses from directories or websites. Collecting email addresses this way gives you no permission in any form.

• Generally, do not do business with an email collection service. They likely do what we describe in the bullet point above. The one exception is if the collection service gains explicit permission that is documented, such as a list broker.

• Do not use another business’ email list to send your own emails. They never gave you permission in the first place, so why risk looking like a Spammer?

• Do not rent email lists. Most companies that rent out email lists do not obtain permission, so do not risk it.

One tricky situation you may come across is an instance where you have inherited an email list. This list may have come from a company that you bought out. The customers from the bought-out company may know about the purchase, but it is still a good idea to let them know directly. This initial email is essential because you can make or break a deal with each customer. Be clear about why you are emailing them, and give them a chance to opt-in. Offer incentives and make sure the content is valuable and relevant.

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