Email to a Prospect List–OK or Not?
Your question : We own a list of email addresses that were legally “harvested” (using telemarketing and manually going to websites, etc. No spiders were used to electronically capture email addressess).
We are thinking of doing an email blast with this NOT opt-in list.
If we follow the CAN SPAM regulations, will we be considered SPAM (by prospective clients – possibly), but more importantly, will we be considered SPAMMERS by the FCC or are we just being smart B2B marketers?
Our communique is designed to open the lines of communications, showcase our capabilities and valuable offerings. We give a free demonstration of an e-learning product worth $35.00 as information currency (we give you something in return for registering).
In your expert opinion, are we OK to send the B2B email blast?
Our Answer: Yes, I do believe that you are OK to send this email. As you mention, you are complying with CAN-SPAM regulations. For those who are interested in a quick review, here are the seven requirements:
The Seven Requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act
- There must be a clear and conspicuous remove function available to the recipient for 30 days after the email was sent. This is also known as an “Opt Out” function. You want to ensure that you’ve given your client the option of receiving or choosing not to receive emails from you.
- You’ll need to develop and enforce an unsubscribe or opt out process. This will have to be accomplished both technically, as well as within your e-mail marketing pieces. You’ll need to check to ensure that you are technically prepared to manage and maintain customer “opt-out” suppression lists. And you’ll need to ensure that you have the ability to communicate back to the client in the required timeframes that you’ve received their requests and will place them on your suppression list so that they no longer receive correspondence with you.
- You must be able to implement opt-out requests within 10 business days. Opt-outs must be communicated to all customer contact points within your company, added to your suppression lists, and communicated back to the client within this 10 business day requirement.
- You must be able to provide a valid physical postal address of the sender so that potential clients or prospects can mail you their request for opting out. The law requires just a postal address. However, it is important to note that the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) requires a physical address, i.e. cannot be a PO Box.
- The CAN-SPAM Act requires that you clearly “label” your email as an advertisement. This is not required for those who have already opted in to receive information from your company. This requirement is for those non-opted-in clients and for all prospect emailing campaigns. You can use the “reasonableness” test here . . . in other words, would the average person consider this e-mail to be an advertisement? If so, you’re probably fine. There is no hard law that you have to actually use the word “advertisement” in your subject line.
- You must use a valid sender or header information. We’ve all received those illegal messages from Spammers and seen the creative ways that they’ve tried to combat Spam programs by using words in the sender and subject lines that have nothing to do with the “weight loss” or “body part enhancement” message that the e-mail contains. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that both of these fields are not misleading or false in any way.
- You must use valid subject information. As referenced in number 6, the Subject line must reflect the intent of the e-mail message and not be misleading in any way.
So, assuming that you’ve complied with the above, I see no reason why you shouldn’t send your email. You’ve even gone a step further and made sure that there is a valid benefit to your prospects. That should boost response, too.
Now, there are many email marketers and consumers at-large who might disagree with me and say that unless someone has expressly given you permission to email them, that you should not put them on your list.
My opinion is that if you have targeted your market correctly, and if your offer is strong and compelling to your audience, then you should be okay. If you are providing real value, then I would move forward with the campaign.
And, let’s face it–you’ll know soon enough (by the number of unsubscribes and the people who positively respond) if this was the right thing to do. Please come back and let us know how the campaign went.
Best of luck to you!