No, you can not just add email addresses to your email list without asking permission and here is why.
Email compliance is one of the most important steps you’ll take in building a healthy email list for your business. It’s not only rude to just start spamming folks, it’s also in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act and could result in some very real consequences.
I know how tempting it is to add all of your personal email contacts to your email marketing list without asking their consent. Trust me though, you do not want to do that and here is why.
Email compliance isn’t just about being polite.
None of us likes spam in our inbox. I don’t like getting unsolicited sales emails from anyone, not even my family or friends. If I did not give explicit permission then I’m probably going to unsubscribe immediately, regardless of what sort of content they’re sending me.
It’s akin to showing up at someone’s house to sell them something they never asked you about. People view their email addresses as private. In a world where we get junk mail at our homes and robo-calls on our phones, email can seem like the last form of private communication.
Here are just a few ways that ignoring email compliance requirements will negatively affect your email list:
Studies show that 43 percent of email users will report spam if they don’t recognize the sender’s “from name” or “from email address”. What’s more, the majority of email users admit to marking emails they no longer have interest in as spam rather than using an unsubscribe link. What’s more, fifty-six percent of email users say they sometimes report messages as spam even if they know the sender.
What this means is that every time someone reports your emails as spam their email client notifies their ISP (internet service provider) that your email seems shady. The ISP then tracks your domain to see how many more people are marking your emails as spam. If others follow suit and mark your emails as junk mail your domain may get blacklisted.
You can avoid being reported as spam by making sure you are doing a few things:
Include an unsubscribe link. Make it easy to find. You usually see these in the footer of an email. If you aren’t including this, you aren’t complying with government regulations.
Don’t purchase email addresses. These people won’t recognize you and didn’t consent to receive emails from you. Most of these people will report you as spam rather than searching for a link to unsubscribe.
Make sure your audience knows who the email came from. As I mentioned above, if a user doesn’t recognize the “from name” or “from email address” they are way more likely to mark the message as spam. Make sure these labels are clear.
Factoring in mobile usability.
These days more than half of all people check their email from a mobile device. What happens if your audience opens your email on their mobile phone and it doesn’t work as expected? According to a 2016 done by Litmus and Fluent it may mean bad news for your email list.
According to the study 45% of users unsubscribed and another 34% marked emails as spam because they didn’t work well on their smartphone. Get some more stats about how mobile usability affects your email list from Email Monday.
That means that you need to test your emails for mobile. This isn’t optional anymore. Mobile usability is just as important in email marketing as it is in website design. If your email service provider isn’t helping you optimize for mobile then you need to find another solution.
If your emails seem “spammy” to an email client’s spam filters you could eventually be blacklisted. While there are no hard and fast rules about how to avoid this, there are some things you can do to help minimize the risk.
Use double opt-in or confirmation emails. This means that when you add an email to your list your new contact will receive an email asking them to confirm their consent to receive emails from you.
Avoid too many images. Too many images in an email screams “spam” to spam filters. Especially images in the header of your email.
Verify your domain through your email marketing platform. This will help clue the email client into the fact that this domain is actually owned and maintained by someone. I use Mailchimp and they will alert you if you haven’t completed this step. They’re really great about helping keep your list healthy.
If enough people report your emails as spam the ISP can blacklist you. This means that any email that you send to your audience can be blocked. No one will get your emails. This also reflects badly on your email marketing platform. If my audience suddenly started marking my emails as spam then Mailchimp’s reputation would suffer. Your email service provider does not allow you to add emails you’ve purchased and will likely suspend your account.
Keep your email list healthy and growing.
Always read through the email compliance terms from your email provider or email marketing application. Whether it’s Mailchimp or something else, they should be able to provide you with all of the tools to comply with guidelines. In addition you can be sure you’re getting the proper permission by using sign up forms. Use them on Facebook, your website or send a link to the form to anyone you’d like to ask to join your list. Mine is right over there in the lower left hand corner. *wink, wink*
I show you how to build one here.
If you have a contact list of 500 people you should definitely ask them to sign up for your email list. Include your signup link and let them decide. Then make sure you have a confirmation email setup to make double sure they’re giving their explicit consent to receive your marketing emails.
To read more about the importance of email compliance you can read this article from Mailchimp.
If you’d like help setting up a Mailchimp account or have more questions about email marketing you can schedule a free phone / video consultation.