The 5 Rules of Obtaining Permission to Email

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May 19, 2010 – When you’re putting together a client email list you need to make sure that you’re obtaining their addresses in a legitimate manner. The Federal Trade Commission passed the CAN-SPAM Act to help in cutting down on unsolicited emails. Violations of this act can result in up to $16,000 fines per email.

There are 5 basic rules to remember when building a high-quality email list:

#1 – Permission is the law.
The CAN-SPAM Act is a set of legal guidelines designed to cut down fraudulent and spam emails. As long as you obtain permission to email a client, you are allowed to send them emails until they request otherwise.

#2 – Permission is critical.
The term “spam” used to refer to the sleazy pharmaceutical offers and sex site invites that were riddled with typos and even viruses. Now “spam” has come to refer to any unwanted or unknown emails, even if they come from a legitimate business or organization. Asking for permission to send your clients email not only shows you’re concerned with following email etiquette, but that you value your clients’ time and respect.

#3 – Permission is not forever.
A client may give you permission to add them to an email list once, but that doesn’t mean the want to receive your information indefinitely. You need to include a method to allow your client to remove or “opt-out” of your mailing lists at all times. Some lawyers even play it safe with an annual email list purge, sending a message that users need to click to confirm they still want to remain on the email list.

#4 – Permission is not transferable.
Beware of purchasing “email lists” from third parties. These companies usually don’t disclose how they come across these lists of names, and their methods can sometimes be illegal. To be safe, always know where you’re getting your email addresses from – it should always be straight from the client themselves.

#5 – Permission is exclusive.
Just because a client signs up for your car accident newsletter doesn’t mean they also want your wrongful death newsletter and your product defect newsletter. If you run multiple newsletters or send different kinds of emails (press releases, firm announcements, fun blogs, etc.) make sure your client specifies which ones they want to receive – don’t just add them to all of the lists.

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