I’ve recently been SPAMMED by several SMS and email marketing novices. It’s clear that SMS and email marketing is a new concept to them. It’s something they’ve heard about but they don’t understand it enough yet to be involved in it. They didn’t know there are laws that govern what they can and cannot do, and they don’t realize that using the shotgun approach (sending emails to anyone and everyone you can find an email address for) is counter-productive when using email marketing, which is what I want to discuss here.
First of all, the Federal Communication Commission governs the rules of commercial texts sent via SMS and the rules clearly state your permission must be in writing for someone to send commercial info to you via text to your phone.
When attending networking, conferences, conventions, and other business meetings, it’s customary to share business cards while making new connections. You can use the contact information on the business card to continue or follow up on the conversation you started with your new business connection or perhaps schedule a time for a meeting in person or via the phone to deepen the business relationship. HOWEVER…
If someone exchanges business cards with you, this does not necessarily mean they want to be added to an email list. Don’t assume they want to receive commercial marketing email from you or from your company just because they gave their business card to you.
It is perfectly acceptable to ASK the person you’re exchanging business cards with if you can add them to your email list and if they agree to it, write ADD on their card. If they do not agree to it, write DON’T ADD on their card. Think about all of the business cards you have handed out in your lifetime:
Would you really want to receive commercial marketing messages via email or on your phone from all of the people or companies you’ve given your card to? I’m guessing you do not.
If you choose to send commercial emails to people who haven’t given you permission to do that, make sure you provide a method for them to UNSUBSCRIBE from your list! You are required by law to do so! Remove them from your list promptly if they ask you to. Know that most business people who have not given you permission to send them commercial/marketing email will likely not appreciate it and won’t buy from you. Be prepared for complaints.
You may be thinking, “it’s no big deal. I’ll just add them to my list because they might like what I’m offering and may buy my product or service. And if they are not interested, they can unsubscribe.” But there’s a cost associated with that approach and the cost is borne by the receiver of your email. It’s called a HUGE WASTE OF TIME and time is a very valuable commodity. With SMS marketing, you could be burning up data that the receiver is paying for. Most people get very annoyed (I’m being kind here) if you waste their time and money. If you use this approach, you risk losing 1) your credibility as a serious business person and also 2) what might be a valuable business connection. Consider that many people use a separate email address to subscribe to the lists of those they want to receive commercial and marketing information and updates from. And understand that most business owners do not use their business email address to receive commercial and marketing information.
Even though The CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t require permission to send commercial email to others in the US, most business owners use email service providers to send this type of email and those providers have policies regarding this issue. Some email service providers have more relaxed policies regarding a non-permission based list, but it’s likely you’ll pay more money to use those providers. And if receivers of your email delete and mark your email as SPAM, the provider will track that back to YOU! If you decide to change providers and move your list, you may find that your subscribers will need to physically opt-in to your list with new email service provider.
Perhaps a better business decision would be to think about who your target market is and follow not only the letter but also the spirit of The CAN-SPAM Act. Is it really too much for you to go the extra step by ASKING PERMISSION before adding people to your list or direct them to your opt-in box? It’s a pretty safe bet that if someone didn’t request being added to your list, they are not going to buy from you and you risk ruining a potentially valuable business relationship with someone who might refer business to you! It’s also probable they will delete your email and/or report you as a SPAMMER.
If you are not using an email service provider to send commercial email, I recommend you review The CAN-SPAM Act to make sure you are not violating any of the rules, specifically regarding your providing an UNSUBSCRIBE option. If you send commercial email without following the rules and the receiver files a complaint with the FTC, you may be liable for substantial monetary penalties of up to $16,000 for each email!
So for all of you email marketing neophytes and newbies out there and for those who just aren’t aware yet, the #1 Thing you Should do when using SMS and email marketing is… GET PERMISSION!
For your convenience, you can download a copy of the Federal Trade Commission – PDF of The CAN-SPAM ACT by clicking here:
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