For most of us living in the world of digital marketing, the general definition of spam is unsolicited bulk email sent to recipients who have no interest or intention to interact with the sender, and who did not provide permission to receive these messages. That said, some industries and areas have a higher (or lower) criteria, based on their individual standards. For example, the financial sector tends to have very tight restrictions on who can and should receive bulk email, and GDPR requirements in Europe are far more restrictive than what is generally seen in the United States.
No matter what rules you live under, there are several general rules you can follow that will allow you to continue to grow your list, but still avoid the label (and blocking that comes with it) of being a spammer:
- Remember that email is a permission-based marketing platform. While email is a bulk messaging platform, there is a big difference between an unsolicited postcard in a list member’s physical mailbox and an unsolicited email in their inbox. If the user did not clearly ask to receive your email, don’t send it. There are plenty of other methods to reach new prospects, so keep bulk email to what it is intended for. (And really, if they didn’t ask for it, they probably aren’t going to read it anyway, so don’t waste the resources.)
- Use clear and consistent opt-in methods to ensure list integrity. You should be able to easily trace where a subscriber came from, and make sure they can remember it. Using clear methods, like landing pages on a website, or standard questions at a POS that are asked of all customers, provides a track record you can point to… and a reference message that you can include in your email campaign to help subscribers know why they are receiving this communication (even if they don’t recall signing up).
- Make unsubscribing easy. There is nothing worse for a customer to experience than feeling like their inbox has been hijacked. As the saying goes “If you love them, let them go… if they come back, they are truly yours”. Knowing that the communications can be opted in and out of, at will, breeds a positive customer experience.