I think we can all agree that email spam is bad. By the way, how the word spam came to be attributed to unwanted online content? The term came into use after a bunch of losers used to go on bulletin boards (before there were chat rooms, I guess) and they would type SPAM repeatedly (and obnoxiously) to move other people’s text off the page. They said “spam” because it was from a Monty Python skit. Just to, you know, be annoying. Eventually it became associated with annoying, unsolicited email. So, there, now you have a little tidbit to toss around at your next cocktail party.
So…getting back to the topic, permission-based email communication is NOT spam. Permission-based usually means people 1) know who you are and 2) expect to receive email from you. Even better is that they WANT to receive email from you, and they have explicitly asked for it, by signing up on a website or subscribing in some other fashion.
Another way to build your list that is considered acceptable, permission-based practice is to add someone’s email address to your list IF they have bought something from you, or have paid a membership fee. In this instance, they are considered to have a relationship with you. But best practice dictates that even in these instances, that the sign-up happen within a year (and preferably much sooner) and that you confirm the purchaser’s desire to be on your list.
So, don’t do like I did…:0 and put the names of people you met and gave you a business card on your email list. Not good! Slightly spammy. I just cleaned up my list, and I still retained plenty but I also lost a few. Better to lose ‘em then to keep emailing them and annoying them! If you collect a business card, then you can mention that you have a newsletter (or what have you) and their verbal confirmation that they want to sign up is good. But having them confirm online is even better.
Do we need to say that offering your listees the opportunity to unsubscribe at any time is a good thing? I think we need to say it, since I wasted ten minutes today trying to do just that on one site that didn’t offer an unsubscribe button. Opting out should be as easy as clicking a button.