How did I get on your email marketing list?

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We’ve all had this experience. Attended an event, shared a business card and were added to an Email marketing list. But is this OK?

If you are doing business in New Zealand there are some legal circumstances where it is permissible, but you have to be very careful.  As a marketer I would say don’t do it, and I’ll tell you why it could do your business more harm than good below.

Email marketing regulations in New Zealand

The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 defines three levels of consent for email marketing:

  1. Express consent: This is the best kind of consent. The person has given you consent, and you can prove it. So in this case, if you are given a business card, the person needs to have agreed to be added to your list, and you must to be able to prove it.
  2. Inferred consent: If you already have a business relationship with someone, you can take the view that they are happy to be contacted by you, as long as it relates to that business.  So meeting at a networking event and exchanging business cards would not be considered inferred consent because you don’t have an existing business relationship.
  3. Deemed consent:  If you collected a business card, and felt the person would really benefit from your businesses products and services, you could email them but you have to be very careful here.  A good example a real estate agent.  You share your business card with them and they add you to their newsletter list.  They have to be able to prove that you would be interested in real estate.  This is where deemed consent is risky.  Make sure your rationale is water-tight here, and your communications can’t cause any offence (for example, a hard-sell is not appropriate).

Want more information on the Act? Visit the Marketing Association.

What harm can it do to your business?

You can be fined if someone complains about your email practises, and the onus is on you to prove you are in the right.  This is not a case of innocent until proven guilty.  But laws aside, not respecting someone’s right to give consent to email them can do a lot of damage to your business. Here are five reasons you should always get permission to add someone to your email marketing list:

  1. Getting permission builds trust: People buy from people they trust. By proactively asking someone to join your newsletter list you are immediately building that trust, and demonstrating your professionalism. You are also sending a strong signal that you respect their right to choose what marketing they receive.  Consumers warm to that.
  2. An engaged email list is better than a big list: Don’t be fooled by having a large email database.  If you have a lot of people on your list who aren’t interested in what you have to say, and what you want to sell then your list is of limited value.
  3. Permission based marketing is more effective:  Consumers are bombarded with marketing messages all day, every day.  That’s why it’s so much more effective if your subscribers have actually said “Yes, I’m interested in what you have to say. Add me to your list.”
  4. No one likes to feel misled: How have you felt when someone added you to an email list that wasn’t of interest to you? Irritated, misled, tricked?  If you are creating negative perceptions every time your newsletter turns up in an inbox, you can’t build relationships and win business.
  5. SPAM is not your friend. Poor email performance counts against you because email providers are continually trying to protect people from emails they did not request.  So if you don’t want to be consigned to SPAM purgatory, send valuable email content to an engaged audience that gave their consent.

How to get people to sign up to your email newsletter

  • Have a newsletter sign up on your website, making sure you tell people the benefit they get for signing up. There has to be something of value for them. Test different value added incentives you could give away for free (e.g. a discount on first purchase, a free e-book).
  • Add a link to your newsletter sign up in your email signature.
  • Promote your newsletter sign up on your social media channels. Did you know that Mail Chimp allows you to add a newsletter sign up tab to the desktop version of your Facebook page?  Find out more here.  You can also use Facebook advertising to advertise your newsletter, but make sure you offer a value added offer.
  • After attending events where you gather business cards, you can follow up the next day with a personalised email providing a link to your sign up form, explaining the benefits of joining your newsletter list.
  • If you’re at a trade show or event, a great way to get sign ups is to have a tablet or laptop where visitors can register themselves. It also gives you a great opportunity to explain the benefits of signing up to your newsletter, adding a really personal touch.

These are just a few of the ways you can get people to opt in to your newsletter.  And they will all help you build a quality email marketing list, and deliver content targeted to a receptive audience. Happy emailing!



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