"Refer-A-Friend campaigns can be tricky territory," says Kristen Gregory in a post at the Bronto blog. "Let's be very clear: just because someone gives you the email address of their friend does not mean you have permission to email [that friend] whenever you want, as often as you like." For that, notes Gregory, you need the friend's explicit permission—and she has suggestions like these for a proper opt-in process:

Use personalized subject lines in your triggered referral message. This will tell the recipient who initiated the referral and why it was sent. For example: Kristen Gregory recommended our triathlon clothing and training tips. Even better, include a space for the referring friend to explain why the recipient might be interested. For instance: John, this company has the best products ever. I've been using them for years.

Invite the recipient to sign up for your email campaigns. Just as with any other opt-in form, tell recipients about your company and what they can expect as subscribers.

Above all, don't come on too strong. "If [your new] friend does not confirm their interest, let them go," advises Gregory. "Don't risk your reputation by continuing to email and creating complaints."

The Po!nt: Be polite when saying "Hello." Don't make the mistake of treating a referred friend like a subscriber who has opted in to your campaigns. You might find you've created an enemy!

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