Permission Question: Can We Email this List?

Posted by Tami Forman 

We recently got a call from a client (who shall remain nameless, for what will soon be obvious reasons) with a question that we found alarming.

The client who called us is the email manager for his company, acting as a kind of internal agency to a number of departments who want to use email marketing. One such department requested that he put together a “one-time” email for a list they had acquired.

The copy was a bit odd, causing us to inquire further about exactly where this list came from and how it was acquired. Well, as it turns out the department in question had gone to the website of a professional association, of which they are members, and had pulled out all the email addresses they could find. Our client wanted to know if it was okay to send an email to this list.

No. No, no, no, no, no.

Putting aside the legal implications, which are not inconsiderable, this is a very, very bad practice. You should never, ever send an email to an address for which you don’t have permission. Not even once. These kinds of emails are likely to drive complaints, which has a serious negative impact on your sender reputation.

Better would have been for them to approach the membership organization about how they could get to their members legitimately, perhaps through email list rental or a paid placement within the organization’s own email messages.

There are no lists to be “found.” You can rent a list or you can build a list. The greatest success often comes when you do both. But only (delivery) failure comes to those who spam. Frankly, we are surprised that questions like this even come up anymore. Doesn’t everyone know that you shouldn’t send email without permission? Alas, apparently not.

The good news is that the client ultimately decided not to send the campaign. Which made us breathe a huge sign of relief!

Have a question about an email campaign you are contemplating? Email us anytime – we are happy to help.

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