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Email Marketing Permission Guidelines

July 16, 2010

Filed under: General

By far the most important aspect of email marketing is the concept of permission. It’s the only thing separating you from the spammers of this world, but for many, it remains a grey area. It doesn’t need to be. First of all, let’s clarify what spam is, and then what kind of permission you will need to use our email marketing software - SPINN Mail. This is so important, because you may encounter legal issues if you fail to comply with the Australian CAN-SPAM laws.


Being ‘legal’ is not enough - our definition of spam

While the CAN-SPAM laws are a step in the right direction for classifying and reducing spam, we don’t feel they go far enough. Our definition of spam goes beyond the laws in most countries and encompasses what we believe to be true permission email marketing.

Spam is any email you send to someone who hasn’t given you their direct permission to contact them on the topic of the email. But that’s not enough. Permission is a fuzzy word open to interpretation. Let’s get into some specific scenarios so it’s clear what does and doesn’t constitute permission.


The type of permission you MUST have

You can only email subscribers using Campaign Monitor if you obtained their permission in any of the following methods:

They opted in via your web site
This could either be through a newsletter subscribe form or by ticking a checkbox on another form. This checkbox cannot be checked by default and it must clearly explain that checking it will mean you will be contacting them by email.

They completed an offline form and indicated they wanted to be emailed
If someone completes an offline form like a survey or enters a competition, you can only contact them if it was explained to them that they would be contacted by email AND they ticked a box indicating they would like to be contacted.

They gave you their business card
If someone gives you their business card and you have explicitly asked for permission to add them to your list, you can contact them. If they dropped their business card in a fishbowl at a trade show, there must be a sign indicating they will be contacted by email about the specific topic.

They purchased something off you in the last 2 years
By making a purchase from you they have provided their permission implicitly. Feel free to email them but at the same time, we think it’s always better to ask anyway, so why not include an opt-in checkbox as part of the checkout process.


Scenarios that DON’T equate to permission

Basically, anything outside the examples above doesn’t equal permission in our eyes, but here are some examples to make sure we’re crystal clear:

You obtained the email addresses from a third party
Whether you purchased a list, were provided one by a partner or bought a bankrupt competitor’s customer list, those people never gave YOU permission to email them and they will consider your email spam. No matter the claims of the source of this list, you cannot email them with Campaign Monitor.

You scraped or “copy and pasted” the addresses from the Internet
Just because people publish their email address doesn’t mean they want to hear from you.

You haven’t emailed that address for more than 2 years
Permission doesn’t age well. Even if you got their permission legitimately, they won’t remember giving it to you. If you haven’t sent something to that address in the last 2 years, you can’t start now.

Need more information? Contact us and we'll be happy to guide you through the process of utilising email marketing to grow your business.

Tags: marketing, email, email marketing, spam

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