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How Dare You Assume That?

July 3, 2009  

When you hand someone a business card at a conference, do you assume your email address will be added to their list for marketing campaigns? Probably not. And that's why Al Iverson was so annoyed when he learned that is exactly why he had recently received something he considered spam—and from a competitor, no less.

"Did I want this mail?" he asks in a post at the ExactTarget blog. "No, I didn't ask for it, and I didn't expect it. Also, do you think it's wise to obtain competitor email addresses at conferences and sign them up for your newsletter? Do you really want to broadcast what you're doing, directly to your competitors?"

Iverson concedes that not everyone will share his dim view of the transgression. But he argues that there is a clear line between you may have my contact information and please send me your newsletter. The mistake here was assuming—rather than requesting—permission. "And that assumption was a bad one," he says, "and it colored my opinion of him, and his company's permission practices, accordingly."

The (oft-repeated) message for email marketers here: Be sure you have explicit opt-in permission before you add anyone's address to your list.

The Po!nt: Don't assume too much. "Send mail to people who don't want it, even if it's on topic, and it garners spam complaints," says Iverson. "It's that simple."

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  • by dana Fri Jul 3, 2009 via web

    Methinks Mr. Iverson doth protest too much--the competitor's newsletter is a free look into the competitor's thinking process and lots of other valuable information.
    Someone much wiser than me once said, "Hold your friends close and your enemies closer." Good advice.
    Put down the gauntlet.

  • by Richard Markel Fri Jul 3, 2009 via web

    Seems Mr. Iverson wants to live in a perfect world where the only emails you get have sent been requested. May I suggest trying a sales persons shoes on where you need to contact potential customers that have a need for your product.

    Having been online since 1995 I remember getting emails from companies that were relevant to what I did. Several times I purchased or networked with them. I still do!

    We are getting busier with all the networking opportunities that avil themselves. I only have a small window of time to research. I get an email that solves a problem I thank them for finding me.

    Richard Markel

  • by Lori Feldman Fri Jul 3, 2009 via web

    Sorry; I have to disagree as well. Putting yourself "out there" in eyeball to eyeball social networking where both parties hand over business cards is implied permission. (Many people are starting to leave emails off their cards...their prerogative, but very short-sighted, I believe.)

    Now, having stated that, I wouldn't run home with my booty and immediately start spamming everyone I just met, newsletter or otherwise. First, I'd go thru the cards and edit out ones I don't want to work with (directly or via referral). Then I'd send a "nice to meet you at the ___ event" follow up email and let them know I want to stay in touch for mutual benefit. That's where I make my opt-out offer, and over many years have had only a handful take me up on it.

    Granted, this is all common sense, and there's never enough of that to go around, but what's so hard about clicking an opt-out button or--better--hitting "reply" and telling the person to remove you because you don't appreciate their tactics, thereby offering a lesson with your outrage. After all, you did meet IRL, not just in some online forum where your address got scraped. Respect must go 2 ways.

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