Email marketing to old customers

A topic that comes up frequently on e-commerce forums is the etiquette and legality of email marketing to people who have never explicitly opted in. For example, suppose you launch a newsletter. Is it legitimate to send it to

  • all your old clients?
  • email addresses from business cards you got at a Chamber event?
  • an opt-in list from a different division of your company?

The MailChimp guys discuss this and provide some suggestions – chief among which are

  • do this with care, if at all – the best practice is 100% opt-in
  • don’t think ’email blast’ – think ‘relationship’
  • lists are not like fine wine – they don’t get better with age – so reconfirm them if they’re old
  • start with a request for permission, not a newsletter
  • expect that 50-80% of the addresses in your list will not be interested

Just because they did business with you once doesn’t mean they want to receive your marketing material now.

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