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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