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I got this list from.... Is it OK to use it?

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By using this software your are bound to a very strict permission policy. This is so important, because not complying with our anti-spam rules can actually land you in legal trouble.

Forget any legal mumbo jumbo - here is our definition of spam

While the CAN-SPAM laws are a step in the right direction for classifying and reducing spam, we don't feel they go far enough. Our definition of spam goes beyond the laws in most countries and encompasses what we believe to be true permission email marketing.

Spam is any email you send to someone who hasn't given you their direct permission to contact them on the topic of the email.

But that's not enough. Permission is a fuzzy word open to interpretation. Let's get into some specific scenarios so it's clear what does and doesn't constitute permission.

The type of permission you MUST have

You can only email subscribers using this software if you obtained their permission in any of the following ways.

  • They opted in via your web site

    This could either be through a newsletter subscribe form or by ticking a checkbox on another form. This checkbox cannot be checked by default and it must clearly explain that checking it will mean you will be contacting them by email.

  • They completed an offline form and indicated they wanted to be emailed

    If someone completes an offline form like a survey or enters a competition, you can only contact them if it was explained to them that they would be contacted by email AND they ticked a box indicating they would like to be contacted.

  • They gave you their business card and you explained you would be sending them commercial email

    If someone gives you their business card and you have explained to them that you will be in touch by email, you can contact them. If they dropped their business card in a fishbowl at a trade show, there must be a sign indicating they will be contacted by email.

  • They purchased something off you in the last 2 years

    By making a purchase from you they have provided their permission implicitly. Feel free to email them but at the same time, we think it's always better to ask anyway, so why not include an opt-in checkbox as part of the checkout process.

    • Scenarios that DON'T equate to permission

      Basically, anything outside the examples above doesn't equal permission in our eyes, but here are some examples to make sure we're crystal clear.

      • You obtained the email addresses from a third party

        Whether you purchased a list, were provided one by a partner or bought a bankrupt competitor's customer list, those people never gave YOU permission to email them and they will consider your email spam. No matter the claims of the source of this list, you cannot email them.

      • You have access to this list as a member of an organization or club

        Although we know that Chambers of Commerce and Tradeshow lists, for example, often give access to lists with email addresses to each member, we don't consider this enough permission to use with our service, since the permission was not given directly to you. (If you are the organization owner, that's ok)

      • You scraped or "copy and pasted" the addresses from the Internet

        Just because people publish their email address doesn't mean they want to hear from you.

      • You haven't emailed that address for more than 2 years

        Permission doesn't age well. Even if you got their permission legitimately, they won't remember giving it to you. If you haven't sent something to that address in the last 2 years, you can't start now.

      Related questions

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  • Updated: Tuesday 21st Nov 2017