When it comes to email marketing, treat it the same way you would sex: with express consent only.


About a year ago, I joined a networking group and we had all sorts of amazing people join us as both members and guests. Every week, conversations were had, connections were made, cards were swapped and one-on-one appointments were set. We learned about each other, discovered how to create perfect referrals, and we all left feeling great about our group.

One day, we had a new visitor. As is standard with groups like this, we always enjoy visitors, especially ones that blend well with the group. We’ll call him John to protect the innocent. John was what our group wanted — he was charismatic, he represented a sector we needed, and he had good energy. We were all excited to have John join our group.

John visited us a couple of times, gave a solid pitch and engaged in our group. I liked John. I was looking forward to referring business to John. One of the things that John had expressed was that he was having challenges with his email marketing.

“Everyone says my emails are going to spam,” John admitted. So of course, I put on my deliverability detective hat and started asking John questions.

“Are you using purchased lists?” He wasn’t.

“Are you segmenting your list and targeting your audience?” He wasn’t doing that either.

“Did you warm up your audience by telling them what to expect when they opted in?” Nope.

I told him that I would love to talk to him more and he agreed to set a meeting with me. We swapped cards and I headed back to the office. A few hours later, I got an email from John. I opened it, excited to get this meeting on the books.

[record scratch]

This email was not from John. It was John’s automated email program. John had added me to his email list. I felt violated.

Now John did not know this about me, but I was not in any way, shape or form his target market. Had he taken the time to get my permission to add me to his email list, he would have known that, as I would have politely declined.

Adding someone to your email list without express permission is a poor practice (and illegal if your contact resides in the EU). It’s unprofessional and almost a guaranteed way to tank your email deliverability. You should neverassume that just because you met someone, that they are interested in receiving emails from you unless they have expressly said so.

When you are networking, no matter how excited you are to share your services with someone, always, always ask permission. “Would it be okay if I added you to my email list? I have a lot of great information that I would love to share with you. You can unsubscribe at any time it’s not useful and it won’t hurt my feelings, I promise.”

And just like sex, when someone says they aren’t enjoying it anymore, you stop.

Don’t be that skeeze that automatically adds people to your email list. It only decreases your reputation and makes your email marketing have to work harder.

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