How to Ethically and Legally Build an Email Marketing List

Email marketing is one of the best ways to build relationships with your customers and ensure continued loyalty? True. And email marketing is fairly easy and cost effective as far as marketing goes? True again. But before you sign up with a service like MailChimp , Aweber, or MyEmma and start merrily sending out marketing missives to everyone in your contact list, be aware of the ethical and legal considerations of building an email marketing list.

Who Wants to Be a Spammer?

Not you, I’m sure. But under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, you are a spammer (at least in the U.S.) if your email marketing falls into any of the following traps:

  • Does not provide a clear “To” and “From” address
  • Does not provide an “Unsubscribe” link
  • Does not provide a physical address for the sender
  • Does not indicate that the message is commercial in nature
  • Uses a misleading subject line, leading the recipient to open the message because they think it is something else
  • Uses email addresses harvested from the internet
  • Sends messages through faked IP addresses

How Do You Avoid the Spammy Scent?

Simple – always ask before adding anyone to your mailing list. Or better yet, give them the opportunity to add themselves. Fortunately, there are many creative ways to induce interested parties to subscribe to your email marketing list. Offer them a discount or free gift such as an eBook or white paper for signing up. Hold a contest. Or use a call to action asking people to subscribe to your mailing list at the end of particularly effective sales letters or blog posts.

Use the Double Opt-In Method

Finally, consider using the double opt-in method just to make sure that there’s no confusion later on. You’ve probably noticed that sometimes when you sign up for a mailing list you then receive an email asking you to confirm that you really, truly mean to sign up. This is usually accomplished by asking you to click a confirmation link. This double opt-in method prevents nefarious folks from signing you up to email lists you didn’t want to be on and even prevents you from accidentally signing up to email lists by leaving checkboxes ticked or entering your email address in the wrong field on a website. As an email marketer, when you use the double opt-in method, you can be sure that all of your subscribers really want to receive your communications.

Email marketing is grand, unless you’re the guy who doesn’t want to be on the subscription list. Be sure to build your email lists legally and ethically so your email marketing doesn’t become somebody else’s spammy recycle bin fodder.

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here:

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