Dear Email Diva,
I just read your post about sending email to tradeshow attendees
, and was wondering how
you feel about sending to tradeshow attendee lists provided to exhibitors, in light of CAN-SPAM. Do attendee lists like those fall under "implied" permission, or should they be considered
opt-ins? Seems like a gray area to me. Obviously the safe bet is to use only names you've collected directly at your booth, but then you may miss out on the opportunity to email attendees who didn't
"drop a card." Karen
There are always two questions when it comes to sending unsolicited email: what can
you do and what
You can send email without permission, as long as you follow the provisions of CAN-SPAM. Check out the FTC Web site guidelines
for complete information but basically the email must have: 1) header information that is not false or
misleading, 2) a subject line that is not deceptive, 3) an opt-out method , 4) a clear indication that it is an advertisement and 5) a physical postal address. If you needed permission to send
any type of email, there would be no email lists available for rent.
Then there is the question of what you should do. You should try to make the best possible impression on a
prospect -- and a series of unsolicited emails is most definitely not the way to do it.
The Email Diva has read several discussions on the proper use of "fishbowl business card email
addresses." Most feel that a personal email follow-up is expected, and an invitation to opt-in for the company's email program is perfectly acceptable. This would apply to trade show
attendee lists as well, and will get you wider reach, as you point out.
On the other hand, I would argue most strenuously that you should not start sending your mass emails to these
prospects, particularly if they are sent frequently (once a week or more). This will get you spam complaints and make a poor impression on most prospects.
Management, which loves the
low cost of email, will push to build the biggest list possible. This is the curse of email: even with a .01% response, the campaign may still be profitable. But consider the impression you're
making for your brand on the other 99.99% of recipients.
The Email Diva has participated in the building of two large email programs from inception. Employing a policy to send
email only to those who had actively requested it, these programs had excellent deliverability, low spam complaints and strong response rates. On the other hand, the Email Diva has been called
to improve programs with poor results and the root cause is typically unscrupulous list building practices.
Craft a series of three invitations to opt-in for your email program. Let
the prospect know where you got their name, e.g., "As an attendee of the Acme Trade Show, I thought you might be interested in our newsletter on Rocket Rollerskate Safety." Then tell why your
email program is so wonderful. If it's not wonderful, you have work to do.
Good Luck!The Email DivaSend your questions or
submit your email for critique to Melinda Krueger, the Email Diva, at email@example.com. All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would
like your name or company name withheld