Don`t Spam Your Customers! - List Usage
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There are right ways and wrong ways to use your mailing list, especially if you have a number of different newsletters, products, and services that are likely to appeal to different groups. Here at Developer Shed, we have two weekly newsletters: the large Developer Shed newsletter and the SEO Chat newsletter. These have different content and are geared to different audiences; just because a subscriber enjoys one newsletter doesn't mean he or she would be interested in both.
Please keep that in mind with your own mailing list. You can always send an email to your list announcing a new newsletter, but don't send the newsletter itself unless the subscriber opts into it. And don't share your mailing list, even with a sister company. To give you an example, I'm a subscriber to a particular crafts magazine. This magazine is owned by a publishing company that puts out about eight different magazine titles. The one I read covers a variety of crafts, but not spinning. The publishing company has a separate magazine devoted entirely to spinning. As it happens, I have tried spinning and don't like it. How do you think I'd react to any offer related to that magazine?
If you want to repurpose a mailing list, you'd better be sure that you're using it for a related product or service. You'd be surprised how narrow a person's interests can be. Someone who likes hiking won't necessarily like camping or kayaking. Or in my case, someone who likes crocheting won't necessarily like knitting! And if it's not aligned with your customers' interests, it's spam; it doesn't matter that you don't think it's spam, because your customers will.
Going at it from the other direction, don't rent or buy email lists from someone else. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I'm not going to tell you to never rent or buy an email list, but you may find out it's more trouble than it's worth. You need to perform due diligence on the company renting/selling the list, especially concerning their opt-in practices. Make sure they compiled the list themselves and didn't get it from some now-defunct company. Make sure the list isn't too general for your purposes; did the people on the list opt in to get information on "crafts" or "quilting," for example? Luc Vezina, director of product management for GOT Corporation, notes in her article about how to avoid becoming an accidental spammer that you should "Ask for a spam guarantee - if you get any complaints, the list and/or mailing is free."
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