Spam: What you need to know

The basics of permission

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 and your clients will need to use emediasend. This is so important, because you could land yourself at the wrong end of the law.

Why do I need permission?

Sending people unsolicited email, commercial or otherwise, is against the law in many countries worldwide.  Besides that, wouldn't you rather be talking to people who you know are interested in what you have to say?

Definition of spam

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.

Who can I send email to?

  • People who have specifically signed up through 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.
  • People who completed offline forms and indicated they wanted to be emailed
    For example, 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.
  • People who gave you their business card and asked to receive email
    If someone gives you their business card and you have explained to them that you will be in touch by email, 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.
  • 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.

Who can't I send email to?

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 a list or 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.
  • Email addresses you collected or found on 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.