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Email Marketing

Building Email Lists by Quantity: electronic communication, privacy

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Now that you have email marketing software and have signed up for an ESP, it is time to start building up your list of
email addresses. Permission is a must, and this is the basis on which you will gain valuable customer trust and build
relationships. It is important to keep in mind the provisions of the spam laws in your region to prevent receiving any
penalties or, even worse, getting blacklisted and risk getting kicked off the ESP. We will outline these provisions in more
detail in this chapter. As we discuss how to build up your email list, we will consistently remind you how to prevent these
things from happening.


Building up an email list is simple in concept, but much more involved in practice. Following the guidelines of your region's
spam laws makes the process a bit more tedious but pays off when done correctly and efficiently.

One of the best ways to be able to get people to sign up for your emails and get permission for emails to get sent to them
is to make yourself visible, which should be pretty standard procedure by now. However, to get people to subscribe to you
and to gain their permission, you should try and give your potential customers as many opportunities as possible to do
so through every medium you market through. These opportunities are called opt-in points, and they are key to gaining
new customers. They are also one of the most important parts of the provisions of spam laws.

Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communication

Signed into law in 2003, Directive 2002/58 on Privacy and Electronic Communication was the one of the first laws that
put regulations and restrictions on commercial emails. Otherwise known as the E-Privacy Directive, it has provisions
outlining the specifics of how emails must be constructed and distributed. It was recently amended and put into regulation
on May 26th, 2011 to include rules on cookies. Here is a general list of the current provisions.

  • Data Retention – Data from traffic and users that has been compiled by website owners and service
    providers must be erased when no longer needed. Data may be retained for billing purposes, and may also
    be retained with consent from a user.
  • Spam – Email addresses are not allowed to be used for marketing purposes. The only time unsolicited email
    can be sent to a recipient is if they have provided consent via opt-in points. Information on email addresses
    can be retained if an email subscriber has given consent and been given the opportunity to opt-out of the
  • SMS Messages – SMS messages (text messages) also fall under the category of spam if they are solicited
    without the consent of a user. Therefore, the only time a mobile phone user can receive these messages is
    through consent.
  • Cookies – Cookies are pieces of data that an Internet browser retains from web pages. Being the newest
    provision of the directive, cookies which gather personal information about a user cannot be obtained
    without the consent of a user. However, the specificity of which cookies fall under this is hazy. The reason
    for this is because the act allows for future amendments to be made depending on the development of
    cookies in the future.

In addition to this law, the United States has also enacted a law that was first signed by George W. Bush in 2003. Some of
the provisions of this law include, but are not limited to, :

  • Do not use fraudulent data transmission such as misleading headers/titles
  • Adding contact information to emails
  • Use of Opt-ins and Opt-Out
  • Clear Language that says an email is an advertisement

The provisions of the E-Privacy Directive are updated frequently, and the kinks are still being worked out. Violations of the
directive can include fines and penalties. This can add up very quickly if multiple penalties occur. And if you are sending
out multiple, frequent emails, you can see how your fines could quickly add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Building a List with Opt-in Points

As we stated in the first chapter, the responsible email marketing is based on the premise that who you send emails to
has given you permission. So how do you obtain permission to send emails to customers? Opt-in points are your answer.

Building a List with Opt-in Points

What are Opt-in Points?

Simply put, opt-in points are places where a potential customer grants permission to receive emails from your organization.
Notice that we did not use the word online before the word "places" in the previous sentence.

Most of your opt-in points are likely going to be on the Internet. Your website, social media profiles, and blogs might
each have an opt-in point for people to gain access to your emails. One of your blog posts might offer the reader to sign
up for more up-to-date information. Maybe your website has a form for visitors to sign up when they buy a product.
However you create it, the opt-in is a place that says "We have a something to offer you; would you like to receive it?"
When the customer opts-in by providing you with their email address, you can then use their email address to send the
information you offered.

There are other places where a potential customer can opt-in for emails and frequent e-newletters, coupons, sales
notifications and more. If you have an offline, brick-and-mortar store, you can offer a customer that is buying a product
the chance to opt-in to your emails by signing up for them. This is a common practice for stores that sells a diverse
selection of items, like bookstores. These opt-in points are also tied in to things like obtaning a membership to the store.

Other potential opt-in places could include seminars where someone from your organization is speaking. Promotional
events are another opt-in place as well. In both cases, an offer to receive emails can be given to people attending the
event. You may be reaching out to a smaller crowd offline, but if your content is rich enough, people will take the offer.

As you can see, opt-in points can exist just about anywhere. Utilizing opt-in places wherever your presence takes you is
a good practice. You shouldn't make a promotional event solely to get people to sign up for your emails, but if you are
having the event in the first place, it's never a bad idea to make that one of your opt-in places.

How to Place Opt-In Points

With opt-in points, you should place them modestly throughout all your marketing channels. Some examples include

  • Putting them on popular pages of your website
  • Putting one in the signature of your email
  • Placing them on printed ads such as coupons and promotional flyers
  • Placing one on the landing page of a pay-per-click ad and marketing ads
  • Placing them on purchase confirmation emails, or even printed receipts
  • Putting them on the pages of your social media profiles

You can be pretty creative when it comes to placing opt-in points. Of course, simple visibility is not all it takes to get
people to sign up for your email subscription or give you permission for email. You must offer some kind of incentive to
get people to sign up. Some examples of offered incentives include

  • Coupons or discounts
  • Relevant, information-rich white papers or ebooks
  • Contests
  • Videos or podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Exclusive content

What you offer is entirely up to you, and like before, you can be very creative in what incentives you have to offer. Remember, though, that you should offer something relevant to your customers; something that has value to them. Contests and prizes might be appropriate, for example, for a radio station. They would not be appropriate for a funeral home.

Also, when you are placing your opt-in points, you should be inviting. Instead of simply saying "Sign up for our newsletter,"
try including one of your incentives to entice the customer. "Sign up and you will get exclusive content!" or "Sign up
today and start earning rewards!" might be more likely to catch the eyes of potential customers. You want to catch the
eyes of your potential customer, but at the same time, you also do not want to over-do it. Putting 50 exclamation points
in a subject line will automatically send your email to the trash. It is all about moderation.

On a final note, one more thing you should do when providing an opt-in point for a customer is to clearly state that
you're offering an email subscription. You want the customer to explicitly say "I would like to receive emails from you" by
making that choice on a form. Let's say that you have a check box on a lead form that lets a customer opt-in for an email
subscription. You, as the organization, should leave the box unchecked and allow the customer to check it, if he so chooses.

Double Opt-In

Double opt-ins are a way to double-check that the person giving you permission to receive emails is fully aware that he
is subscribing to your email list. Double opt-ins also let you know that the person knows exactly what he wants, and that
he wants your email subscription.

Double opt-ins normally come in the form of emails sent directly to the subscriber moments after he gave you permission
to be on your email list. This email comes from you (or the ESP) and may ask the user to click on a link to complete
the submission process and confirm exactly what he will be receiving. Once he has completed this task, the permission
transaction is complete.

This type of confirmation has pros and cons. The cons are that response rates of these emails are low and can take longer
to get the customer to sign up. Some subscribers may also find it difficult to understand. However, the pros make up
for these cons because the customers who do complete the permission transaction are much more likely to read to your
emails. There are also more likely to engage in the content of your emails. In short, the users giving the permission are
much more involved.

Offering an Opt-Out

Offering an Opt-Out

Opt-out points are another necessary component you must provide for your subscribers. Though it is a good practice to
make opt-out an easy process for the subscriber, it is also part of the E-Prviacy Directive and must be followed accordingly.

According to the E-Privacy Directive, your emails must have clear instructions on how to opt-out of an email subscription.
They must also provide a clear opportunity to opt out at any point. Doing this ensures that not only are you E-Privacy
Directive compliant, but that you also value your customer's time.

The most professional tactic to use for offering an opt-out point is to allow the user the ability to opt-out with the least
amount of clicks. You should really have the amount of clicks down to one, and most ESPs will be able to place a one
click link for users to unsubscribe to an organization's emails.

Offering an Opt-Out

The last thing to remember about offering opt-out points is to remember that the email address must be taken off of
your list by the end of 10 business days from the moment the user unsubscribes. The email should be taken off as soon
as possible, but 10 business days is the maximum amount of time an organization should have. ESPs will be able to do
this process automatically and be able to permanently remove those email addresses.

Using List Brokers to Build a List

List brokers are companies that specifically collect email contacts and sell them to other companies. Using list brokers is
a good way to get a list built up without having to do most of the legwork. Of course, there are a couple of things to be
aware of before using list brokers to build up your email contact list.

Legitimate list brokers follow the region's spam compliancy law provisions and gain their contact information through
user permission. Still, it is never a bad idea to ask the broker questions on how the permission was obtained. You can
also ask the broker what kind of email addresses were obtained and what kinds of information are available. Do not be
afraid to ask too many questions.

Here are a few essential questions you should ask before using a list obtained by a list broker

  • How and where were these email addresses obtained?
  • When was each grant of permission confirmed?
  • How do you select and determine interests?

The last bulleted point refers to one of the problems with a list broker. You may not be receiving a list of targeted prospects.
For example, if the list was built using general interest categories like "sports" and "fine arts," that is not as targeted list as
one that had customers specify exactly what type of sports and fine arts they are interested in. Better yet, they would indicate
the type of sports they like to watch, the types they play, the types they go to live games for, etc., etc. The more detailed the
interest information you have from the list broker, the more likely the emails on the list are likely to be valuable to you.

Using List Brokers to Build a List

Generally speaking, using a list broker is not the most dependable way to gain contact information and permission.
Ultimately, you may not know for sure if permission was gained legally. The one definite disadvantage to using a list broker
is that the user who has granted permission is receiving emails from someone they may have never heard of. This makes
you subject to spam complaints, and this is the last thing you want when you send out your emails.

How NOT to Build Your Email Contact List

What we have been attempting to stress in this chapter is that permission is the key component to building up a quality
email list. It is also the most important factor in ensuring that you are not sending out what some people might consider

There are instances where a person might accuse you of SPAM even when you have complied with all of your regions SPAM provisions. It is likely that eventually, someone out there may think that you are sending him SPAM. There are, however, a few practices that are almost guaranteed to earn you some SPAM complaints. You should explicitly avoid the following:

  • Do not purchase an email list from companies offering you to keep it as a data file. Any company selling you
    these most likely did not receive permission from the email address users. These files are also likely bought
    and sold to many different organizations, all sending their emails to the same people. Imagine all the SPAM
    one of those users is receiving. You do not want to lumped in with these Spammers.
  • Do not collect email addresses from directories or websites. Collecting email addresses this way gives you no
    permission in any form.
  • Generally, do not do business with an email collection service. They likely do what we describe in the bullet
    point above. The one exception is if the collection service gains explicit permission that is documented, such
    as a list broker.
  • Do not use another business' email list to send your own emails. They never gave you permission in the first
    place, so why risk looking like a Spammer?
  • Do not rent email lists. Most companies that rent out email lists do not obtain permission, so do not risk it.

One tricky situation you may come across is an instance where you have inherited an email list. This list may have come
from a company that you bought out. The customers from the bought-out company may know about the purchase, but
it is still a good idea to let them know directly. This initial email is essential because you can make or break a deal with
each customer. Be clear about why you are emailing them, and give them a chance to opt-in. Offer incentives and make
sure the content is valuable and relevant.

Minimizing SPAM Complaints

The average email user's perception about SPAM is that if they cannot understand it, then it is SPAM. You could be following
every provision of your regions spam compliancy law down to the finest detail, which helps you from a legal standpoint.
But if your users do not understand the email or believe that it looks like SPAM, you can get a SPAM complaint against
you. This can ruin your reputation with your ESP and, more importantly, your company. Having too many complaints
can take you out of the online competition.

What Do Users Consider Spam

Getting a spam complaint at some point is very likely. If you can minimize these mistakes so that even when they do
occur, then even when they do occur, they will not necessarily do a great deal of damage. Common reasons a user might
hit the spam button are listed below:

  • They cannot verify its source. If a user cannot determine where an email came from, he may consider it
    spam. More importantly, if he cannot determine whether or not the source is legitimate, he may consider
    it spam. Consumers look at the "From" line of an email in their inbox to determine the source, so it is
    important to get this information right in the beginning. If they do not know where it came from just by
    looking at that line, they will most likely delete it without even reading it.
  • They think the emails are too frequent. The frequency of your email subscription may be too much or too
    little for certain people. You can never tell who this is bound to affect, but some users tend to perceive overly
    frequent emails as spam. They may feel, too, that the content is irrelevant or too repetitive.
  • They simply do not want emails. This is especially true if the type of email they receive is the result of direct
    marketing. If they did not grant permission in the first place, they may be inclined to hit the spam button.
    Of course, even if they grant permission to receive your newsletter, they might no longer be interested in it
    and will prevent anymore emails from coming by hitting the spam button.

Even if the user does not think your emails are spam, they may still hit the spam button because one of the following occurs:

  • The user could have accidentally hit the spam button on your email (it does happen)
  • The user may not trust the email's unsubscribe link
  • The unsubscribe link is confusing

Legitimate Emails and Practices

You only have so much control and influence over your customers, but following the provisions of your region's spam
compliancy laws is the essential guideline to making your emails look legitimate and less like spam. Crafting an email that
looks legitimate in the customer's eyes is just one way of preventing a spam complaint, but you may also become more
involved with the customer and build the relationship by sending different kinds of emails. You can also practice some
other ideas for the email subscription process that will make you more trustworthy build a better customer relationship.
Once the customer becomes more involved, he is much less likely to send a spam complaint. Here are a few kinds of email
ideas you can consider sending to a customer that are legitimate and worth reading.

  • Thank You – After a user subscribes to your email list, sending a thank you letter immediately following
    sign-up is a gesture that appears a little more personal and makes the user feel welcome. This can also be a
    good spot to put a double opt-in point.
  • Reminder Paragraphs – Inserting blocks of text at the top of an email to remind users how they granted
    permission is a good practice to follow. It is a good reminder for the customer because sometimes, users sign
    online forms hastily and end up forgetting how they were put on a subscription in the first place. You might
    have a block of text that reads "You are receiving this email as part of an email subscription you signed up
    for on [date or website location]."
  • Reminder Emails – Occasionally, your subscriber may want to change his subscription settings because his
    interests may have changed. Send out a reminder email with the same reminder block of text describing how
    he got onto your email subscription. Also remind him how he can change his settings and provide links to
    do it. Remember to make your links as simple as possible. One click is ideal.
  • Brand Your Emails – If your company has a logo or colors that it is known for, use them in the body of the
    email. Remember not to use anything too flashy, and use colors that are easy on the eyes.
  • Make your Emails Familiar – This goes along with branding as well, but you should also make certain
    phrases that are memorable in the body of the email as well as the "from" line.
  • Make Valuable Email Content – Just as the rest of your Internet marketing strategy employs content
    marketing (social media profiles, blogs, website), so should your emails. Make valuable content that is
    relevant and interests your customers.
  • Emails to Tthose who Unsubscribe – For those who wish to unsubscribe from your email list, send out one
    last email asking them why they chose to unsubscribe. You can make this a survey or have the customer
    respond with more descriptive information.
  • Describe What Your Subscription Entails – Just like the previous sections described, you should be as
    clear and precise as possible. This description will likely come at the sign-up form where a user will decide
    whether or not he wants to sign up. Tell him how periodic your emails are and whether or not you will send
    promotional deals.
  • Send Emails with User Expectations in Mind – Remember that if the user has not given you explicit
    permission, you cannot send him anymore emails than he expects. For example, if you send a service quote
    to a customer buying one of your products, that is all you should send him.
  • Allow for Individual Preference – This is especially true if your organization is diverse in product offerings.
    One promotional deal for a customer may not necessarily apply to another. Allow every customer to have
    the ability to select their interests in products and special deals. Provide links in your emails to allow them
    to change their preferences whenever they would like to.

A few of these bullet points will be discussed in greater detail in a chapter about crafting emails. Keep all of them in mind
when considering what to send.

  1. Introduction to Email Marketing: what is email marketing?
  2. Using Email Marketing Software: email service provider, introduction
  3. Building Email Lists by Quantity: electronic communication, privacy
  4. Building Email Lists by Quality: introduction, list segmenting
  5. Crafting an Email: introduction, getting unread email noticed
  6. Analyzing and Tracking Your Email Marketing Strategy: introduction
  7. Resources: