Email Marketing Rules and Best Practices

July 18, 2012

Email marketing can help keep your business stay connected with your consumers. It’s an opportunity to keep your business in the mind of your consumers and keep them posted on your offering and services.

There are laws and regulations that have been put in place to protect consumers from unfair email marketing practices. Although many don’t follow these laws it’s important to inform yourself and get additional information of fair email marketing practices.

It’s likely that there are businesses who aren’t educated in these laws and break them without intending to. As the use of email marketing continues to grow expect these laws/regulations to be further enforced. So as a business owner be sure to educate yourself and keep an eye for changes in these laws.

Before you make use of our e-mail list building techniques take the time to review how the laws in place affect you. The Can-spam law was established in 2003.

CAN-SPAM derives from the bill’s full name: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act of 2003. The CAN-SPAM Law covers all commercial email messages. So what does the term commercial email mean? It means “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.” That includes all email that promotes content on a commercial website, so if your website makes any money at all and your email links back to it, you are liable under the CAN-SPAM Law.

I have included Drio’s email marketing rules. We typically give our clients a copy to ensure everyone understands the rules and regulations to successfully building an email list. You can modify this document and use it for your business.

Drio E-mail List Building Tips to Enforce the Can-spam Law*:

Basic Rules:

To send an email to someone using our e-mail marketing that recipient must be:
– Someone who is a customer, member or subscriber of your business or organization,
– Someone who has specifically asked to receive your emails by opting in or signing up in some way, or
– Someone who has bought a product or service from you in the past 18 months

1. No list rental or purchasing lists

We do not allow any customers to rent or purchase lists and send to them using our email campaign network.
Why? Lists obtained in that manner aren’t worth the trouble and expense. We know that email works best when it appeals to an audience that’s receptive to your message, and that begins with a true permission-based list.

2.  No old lists

When it comes to sending permission-based email, the age of the list matters. If enough time passes between someone initially subscribing to your list and eventually receiving an email from you, permission “expires” as people eventually forget what they’ve signed up for. That’s why we don’t allow sending to any email address that was obtained more than 18 months ago and has not received any correspondence from you since that time.

3. Paying customers

If they are current or recent customers (within the last 2 years at the longest) then you are safe to assume an existing relationship.If it’s been longer than that and you’ve not been emailing them regularly, then it is a no go zone.

4. Website contact forms

Sending in a question or comment isn’t the same thing as opt-in permission. Even if your form says ‘send me more information’, that doesn’t mean you can add them to a marketing list, it just means you can send them specific information as requested.

Unless your contact form clearly lets people choose to also receive your newsletter, they have not given you permission.

5. Everyone signed up directly on a form (in person)

Perfect, that’s clear, direct permission and you are good to go. Just make sure you email people regularly (don’t leave it months before contacting them) and that you only send them what you promised you would.

6. We sponsored this tradeshow, and we got a list of everyone who attended

This is very common, but it doesn’t count as permission. Those people may well have agreed to hear from every vendor as part of their entry, but it isn’t explicit, direct permission to your company. It is not allowed to be used with this software, even if the tradeshow organizer tells you it is fine.

7. These are all my friends, colleagues or family members.

You do still need to have their direct permission. That could be as simple as verbally asking them if it is ok to add them to your newsletter list. They probably won’t mind even if you don’t ask, but it still is not opt-in, and still not allowed.

*These rules are pretty standard from any e-mail marketing agency.  If the rules are broken, the user will be dropped from the program.

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About the Author: Hazel Geary

She’s led marketing efforts for multimillion-dollar brands including Under Armour, McCormick, and more. You know the window installations at department stores that make you want to buy all the things? She helped concept, design, and install those across the country for Under Armour. In other words, she knows a thing or two about creating head-turning brands. Now, as the marketing strategist in your back pocket, she’ll be the sounding board and outside perspective you need to get clear on your unique market position.

Ready to strike your perfect balance between head turning and revenue generating?

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