It started innocently enough. I had access to lots of names and email addresses and was offering something that was potentially of much value to the group. (This is how I justified it.) The reality? I desperately wanted my business to be an overnight success, so the messages went out. I sent 50 at a time, up to 650 each day for two days. At first, I was exhilarated. Several potential customers were opting-in to my list and some were even purchasing!
But then the unsubscribe messages started rolling in.
And that’s when it hit me.
Like a ton of bricks.
YOU ARE A SPAMMER.
I didn’t set out with that intent; I truly saw this as a mere marketing “experiment.” But the truth is, these people didn’t subscribe or expressly opt-in to receive messages from me, and according to the CAN-SPAM act, that’s something the FTC can crack down on. So I stopped sending unsolicited messages, and became hyperaware of all the ways we are marketed to without our consent. It didn’t take long to realize that spam can arrive in the most innocuous package and that it only takes one rogue email to create a breach in trust.
Case in point: Two months later at a conference, many conversations were had and many business cards exchanged. To my surprise, I returned home to find my inbox bulging with unfamiliar newsletters. I didn’t subscribe to these newsletters, and even though the authors were my lovely new contacts, I was seriously peeved at the assumption they made. The moral of the story? Don’t assume that an exchange of business cards implies permission to add someone to your list! This is bad form and spammy. (Tweet this!)
√ Develop an amazing free opt-in so people are clamoring to get onto your list
√ When networking, ask those with whom you’re exchanging cards if they’d be interested in getting your newsletter. If they say yes, make a small mark on the card so you remember later to add them to your list
√ Experiment with placing calls-to-action for your opt-in gift/newsletter in strategic places: on your business card, in your email signature, and in a tab on your Facebook business page—don’t be shy
Are you also peeved by unsolicited email? Share your thoughts in the Comments below!