• Ask Lisa Your Questions about marketing, copywriting, branding and advertisingQ: What exaclty is considered email SPAM when sending email? 

    A: Excellent question. In short form, any unsolicited commerical email is considered SPAM. So, if you are sending any email for your business without permission and adding people to your email list for promotional purposes, you are basically breaking the law.

    What many people don’t realize is that email is regulated by the Federal law.  It’s highly advised that you read through the official CAN-SPAM Act on the Federal Trade Commission website.

    Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer but here are some ways you can ensure you’re NOT breaking the law when it comes to email marketing.

    In order to be CAN-SPAM compliant here are some things you can do.

    1. Invest in a platform that provides professional email service. You can explore companies like AWeber, MailChimp or Constant Contact (there are many others and you’ll want to research based on your business strategy and technical capabilities/needs)
    2. Only send commercial and promotional email to people who have requested the email by opting in.  Opting in means they signed up on your website by using a contact form and requested that you send them information. Do not add anyone to your list without permission even if their email address is publicly displayed. For example: Some people “scrape” email addresses from LinkedIn as a way to try to prospect new business. This is SPAM and truly poor form.
    3. Don’t buy or sell email addresses. You’re never 100% sure where a purchased list came from and if you sell your contact information that ‘s a direct violation of trust.
    4. Always include your physical mailing address on all email messages and on your website. This is also required by law. Plus, it adds another element of trust when people know where your office is located (note: if you work from a home office, it’s advised to use a P.O. box or UPS Store address so you don’t attract unwanted visitors)
    5. Always include an unsubscribe button or a way to easily unsubscribe.  Sending email messages with no way to optout is very bad form.
    6. Once someone unsubscribes from your list NEVER email them again. It’s required that you comply within 10 days and most professional email services will give unsubscribers a way to tell you why they are opting out.  If you are SPAMMING, they can also report you for that.
    7. Permission based email and internet marketing is the best way to protect your professional reputation. Bonus tip: When in doubt ask if somone is interested in what you want to share. Don’t add people to your Facebook groups without permission either. While adding people to your FB groups without permission isn’t a direct violation of CAN-SPAM it’s annoying and rude. In many cases you can damange your reputation by tossing people into groups without asking first.

    Are you using permission based email marketing techniques to avoid email SPAM? Have you ever experienced SPAM?  Leave your stories here in the form of a comment or reply.

    Do you have  questions about branding, copywriting and marketing? Submit your questions here and I might just blog the A to your Q.  AND, be sure to grab your FREE Copywriting Action Plan to help you improve your marketing messages here.

    Lisa Manyon is "The Business Marketing Architect" a content and copywriting strategist for mission-driven entrepreneurs. She's the creator of the NEW marketing model for success (as seen in Inc. Magazine) that's changing the way people market today. She specializes in powerfully communicating your marketing message to increase results via Manyon Marketing Web Makeovers, website copy packages and content strategies to effectively market your business. She offers a free Copywriting Action Plan and marketing resources on her award winning blog. Her consulting and coaching is known to help produce million dollar results www.writeoncreative.com/blog


    8 responses to “Ask Lisa: What is considered email SPAM when sending email?”

    1. John Soares says:

      Lisa, you did an excellent job explaining ethical email practices. I hit the spam button multiple times a day for people who have contacted me without permission, always because they are after their own financial gain.

      • Lisa Manyon says:

        Hi John,

        Thanks for the kind words. SPAM is one of my biggest pet peeves and I’m constantly amazed that people still teach and use unethical “scraping” practices.

        On the flipside, even permission based email marketing can be challenging, especially when special promoitions require more frequent email scheduling for people to take action. That’s why segmenting lists is helpful when managing online commmunities. I’m in the process of revamping that myself. Some like to receive the promos and event notifications we send while others only want the educational information via the ezine or newsletter.

        Regardless of strategy, one thing remains constant, people are people not numbers and should be treated as such.

        Write on!~


    2. As always Lisa, you have created a post on a hot topic, that at least once, had affected us all. Your ability to break all things down to it’s simplest form (easily understood), is much appreciated.

    3. Kate Beeders says:

      Lisa, this should be a regular post- especially for newbies. I’d like to also add (unless I missed it in your article) – to not add people to your list without permission. That to me is spam, too 🙂

      • Lisa Manyon says:

        Hello Kate,

        Thanks for the comment. Yes, this should be required reading for newbies for sure. #2 in my suggested guidelines does address not adding people to your email list without permission.

        Write on!~


    4. Paul Davis says:

      I had a client that we moved from managing their list manually to Mailchimp. It helped so much, people actually engage the letters now.

      • Lisa Manyon says:

        Hi Paul,
        Yes, it’s smart to invest in a CRM platform that monitors security and more. I’ve been using Constant Contact for over 8 years and while many have tried to lure me to different platforms, I’ve been more than happy with deliverabilty and results. Currently I’m getting an open rate of over 80% for my intitial opt in email series when people request my Copywriting Action Plan.
        Write on!~

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