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 list? Sometimes to make it even worse, the guilty party isn’t even using an email service provider, they’re just adding your email to a manual list and exposing it to everyone when they send out their announcements.
It’s not okay to add people to your e-newsletter list without their permission. Period.
Yes, you should have an email list. But you must let people opt-in rather than forcing them to opt-out. (Although many don’t even allow you to do that.)
Here’s why you’d rather have people opt-in…
What is opting-in?
As you might imagine opting-in is simply someone taking a step to say “Yes, I want to receive information.” For example, you can enter your information in the box at the top right to get my free new media marketing e-course. If you do, you’ve opted-in. Hooray!
Imagine if out of the blue I just started sending it to you. Would you think that was cool?
Just sending information without permission is not cool
It’s actually spam.
And spam has a tendency to piss people off. Is this what you want to do? Probably not the best idea.
Here’s what you should do instead
Ask people to join your email list. When I first started my email list I asked a handful of friends if they’d like to sign-up. Some did, some didn’t. That’s cool. At least now I know the people who get my emails are the ones who really want the information. And if that should ever change they get an option to unsubscribe in every email.
I’m not saying it’s wrong to follow up with people
You should. But there’s a difference between sending a personal note and lumping someone into a mass email that contains info they’re probably not interested in. If it’s of major concern to you to have people on your list, ask them to sign-up or at least give them the option to confirm they want to be on it.
I’m cool with getting an email from someone I met that says, “Hey, it was great to meet you. Blah, blah, blah. If you’d like more on whatever it was we were talking you should sign-up for my e-newsletter here.”
This is not the same as forcing someone to opt-out
Some people think that it’s no big deal if you add email addresses as long as they have the option to opt-out after the fact. I wonder if those same people think it’s cool when people start charging their credit card and they have to call to make them stop? Same thing here.
It’s always better to let people opt-in.
Another way to let people opt-in rather than opt-out
Just recently, I worked with an amazing bunch of actors and directors for a playmaking program I produce. They’ve asked to be informed about the program. So they’re on my list for this program in particular.
Of course, I’d love if they also wanted information about the other programs and show we have available throughout the year. Now I have a choice, I can either just add them, which we know is not ideal, or I can let them decide for themselves and opt-in.
Here’s how I let people decide for themselves
This is the email I use so people can opt-in for themselves:Here’s an example opt-in email you can model if you like.
You’ll find your list responsiveness improves too
Because now you’ve got a list full of people who want to hear from you rather than a group surprised to hear from you.
All it means is shifting the control, let people decide for themselves. Ask me if it’s okay and let me confirm for myself.
How do you feel about being added to list without permission? Tell me in the comments.