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How to Make People Hate Your Email Newsletter

Has this ever happened to you?

You exchange contact information with someone at an event and the next time you hear from them is in some mass email sent to their entire email list?

To make matters worse, the guilty party isn’t even using an email service provider, they’re just adding your email address in the “To” field of a regular email and exposing it to everyone else they’ve added to this “list” without permission.


Let’s be very clear here:

It’s not OK to add people to your email list without their permission. Period.

If you want your email list to be truly effective in getting you new customers and repeat business, you must let people opt-in rather than forcing them to opt-out.

Here’s why you’d rather have people opt-in …

What is opting-in?

As you might imagine, opting-in is simply allowing someone the opportunity to say, “Yes, I want to receive information.”

For example, you can enter your email address to opt-in to our Hints & Tips newsletter for free marketing advice. Then because you’ve opted-in, we’ll send you the information you’ve requested.

Imagine if we just started sending it to you without your permission. Would you think that was cool? I don’t think so!

Just sending information without permission is not cool

It’s actually spam.

And spam has a tendency to upset people. It’s probably not your intention to have people hate your email newsletter.

Here’s what you should do so people don’t hate your email newsletter

Ask people first if they’d like to join your email list. Some will, some won’t. And that’s OK.

At least you’ll know that the people who get your emails really want the information. And when you use an email service provider they’ll get an option to unsubscribe in every email if they should ever change their mind. That’s OK, too.

It’s OK to follow-up with people

You should definitely follow-up with people you’ve met and might want to do business with. But there’s a difference between sending a personal note and lumping someone into a mass email that contains information they may not be interested in—or want!

If you want these people on your list, just ask them to sign-up. Send a follow-up email that tells them about your email list and include a link where they can sign-up.

Here’s a post with a great follow-up email script you might want to use.

Allowing someone to opt-in is NOT the same as forcing someone to opt-out

You may think it’s no big deal if you add email addresses to your list as long as there’s an option to opt-out after the fact. But doing so could ruin an otherwise positive experience you’ve already had with someone.

Remember, it’s always better to let people opt-in.

Allowing people to opt-in improves your list responsiveness

Now you’ve got a list full of people who want to hear from you, rather than a group surprised and upset that they’ve been added to a list without their permission.

You’ve shifted the control and let people decide for themselves. That’s a lot better than having people predisposed to hating your email newsletter—don’t you think?

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  1. Kim Meyer •

    I have never been good at Sales because, i treat people the way I want to be treated and I hate it when people “cold call” me withoug me expressing an intereste int he product or service. The sign on my door reads, “We Found Jesus, We love our Vacuum, We Gave at the office and our kids are selling the same crap that you are.”. But my husband says I have to change my way of thinking, we are not cold calling, we are concerned about the quality of our goods and our services so we are following up and “We Care About Our Customers” that is the atttitude I have to maintain to be successful in Business.:)

    • Dave Charest •

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for the comment. I love the idea of shifting your line of thinking. That’s really what you should be doing–taking care of your customers. Marketing and sales don’t have to be yucky.

  2. We are at a 10 day event right now – an annual state fair – we are running a promotion with a prize drawing for an overnight at a hot springs resort – lots of people are signing up! at the bottom of the slip it says:

    “You will receive our E-news and updates.”

    It doesn’t explicitly ask them to opt in but that sentence has worked that way – some people just put down a phone number – some put emails.
    So I feel it is clear enough that they gave permission if they included their email.

    Is it?

    I am planning an auto responder that specifically mentions the event where they signed up for the drawing and to tell them know we will be announcing the winner in another email.

    the auto responder could give them an option to continue receiving our newsletter.

    • Dave Charest •

      Thanks for the comment Mary. I think you’re doing it the right way. And I like that you’re reminding them where and why they signed up. Have you noticed any complaints?

  3. I HATE when I meet someone at a networking event and they just add me to their spam – oops I mean email – list. The worst was a mortgage broker once who met me once, we didn’t even speak much, she added to her “newsletter” which was this 4 page monstrosity that came out every Friday. In order to be removed, I had to send her a private email which she said she took me off the list, but I still got several more “newsletters.” I told her that I didn’t appreciate being added without her asking and that in the future she should ask people permission. I hope I did her a favor.

    I have an opt in on my web site, an opt in on my intake paperwork and if I meet someone who sounds like they might be interested in my office, I ask if they’d like to be added to the newsletter. Or if I follow up with someone from an event, I ask. I understand that not everyone has time for a lot of email and not wishing to receive another newsletter is fine. If they don’t want it, they’re not going to read it. I have a very low opt out rate and a very high open rate. I like it that way.

    • Dave Charest •

      Thanks for the comment Lisa. Glad to hear you’re doing it right!

  4. Thanks for your great articles!

  5. This was a great article!
    I usually contact other firms and companies that could hold our kind of product. 90% of the time, the people that answer my calls are very responsive and interested in what I am informing them about and send them emails. I would SOMETIMES send emails without their permission… but then I read this and said to myself “ALWAYS ASK FOR PERMISSION, YES”… So that in the future if I ever receive email or a phone call…
    I would take the time to hear the phone call and also see whether the person that emailed me got my permission. Surprises are no good in regards to email marketing.
    Excellent article Dave… keep it up!

  6. Thank you thank you for this post! I have been struggling with this lately, as some random people I might be connected with on Linkedin or met once, automatically add me to their list…tacky. One time I unsubscribed and had the owner snap back through email nastily “Remove me from your Linkedin & all contact then please”. I could picture the temper tantrum in my mind. Just not cool.


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