There are many examples of when you can do something, but perhaps shouldn’t, and nowhere is this more evident (and prevalent) then in what is permissable under CAN-SPAM. For purposes of this article, in particular, we are going to talk about adding a customer’s email address to your marketing mailing list without asking them first.
So here’s the thing – you can add a customer’s email address to your mailing list – without even asking them – under CAN-SPAM, under the “business relationship” rules. It’s absolutely legal to do that.
But should you? We say “no”, and here’s why not: because even though you have the law’s ‘permission’, you don’t have the customer’s permission.
And that’s going to annoy the customer.
Is it really worth annoying your customers just so that you can boost your numbers? Would you rather be able to say “We have a mailing list with 100,000 names – but only a tiny fraction of them actually open, click through, and buy things – and lots of them click the spam button,” or to say “We have a mailing list of 10,000 names, and 30% of them regularly open, click through, and purchase”?
Because when you annoy your customers by sending them marketing email without their explicit permission, what are they going to do when they open that email (if they open it at all)?: Buy something? Or hit “this is spam”?
A much better way to build your retail marketing email list, the way to create a welcoming and responsive list, that takes the actions you want them to take, is to ask them if they want to receive your marketing emails. There are multiples opportunities to do this – as they are creating their order, when they are checking out, in the confirmation of their order, and when they come back to give you repeat business, which they will if you haven’t annoyed them.
Any time they are giving you their email address, such as during the order so that you can send them the order confirmation, just ask them – and be sure to set their expectations by telling them how often they can expect to receive marketing emails from you!
“May we send you email notices of upcoming sales and specials? We send them out about once a month.”
Asking permission, and setting appropriate expections, is the best way to build online brand loyalty with email.
Sending customers – who could otherwise be loyal customers – email that amounts to ‘legal spam’ (if you’ll pardon the oxymoron) is a sure way to turn them off. And to end up with delivery problems.
Yes, it’s legal. But would you rather be right – or successful?