1. I got this list from.... Is it OK to use it?
By using this software you are bound to a very strict permission policy. This is so important, because not complying with our anti-spam rules can actually land you in legal trouble.
Forget any legal mumbo jumbo - here is our definition of spam
While the CAN-SPAM laws are a step in the right direction for classifying and reducing spam, we don't feel they go far enough. Our definition of spam goes beyond the laws in most countries and encompasses what we believe to be true permission email marketing.
Spam is any email you send to someone who hasn't given you their direct permission to contact them on the topic of the email.
But that's not enough. Permission is a fuzzy word open to interpretation. Let's get into some specific scenarios so it's clear what does and doesn't constitute permission.
The type of permission you MUST have
You can only email subscribers using this software if you obtained their permission in any of the following ways.
They opted in via your website
This could either be through a newsletter subscribe form or by ticking a checkbox on another form. This checkbox cannot be checked by default and it must clearly explain that checking it will mean you will be contacting them by email.
They completed an offline form and indicated they wanted to be emailed
If someone completes an offline form like a survey or enters a competition, you can only contact them if it was explained to them that they would be contacted by email AND they ticked a box indicating they would like to be contacted.
They gave you their business card and you explained you would be sending them commercial email
If someone gives you their business card and you have explained to them that you will be in touch by email, you can contact them. If they dropped their business card in a fishbowl at a trade show, there must be a sign indicating they will be contacted by email.
They purchased something off you in the last 2 years
By making a purchase from you they have provided their permission implicitly. Feel free to email them but at the same time, we think it's always better to ask anyway, so why not include an opt-in checkbox as part of the checkout process.
Scenarios that DON'T equate to permission
Basically, anything outside the examples above doesn't equal permission in our eyes, but here are some examples to make sure we're crystal clear.
You obtained the email addresses from a third party
Whether you purchased a list, were provided one by a partner or bought a bankrupt competitor's customer list, those people never gave YOU permission to email them and they will consider your email spam. No matter the claims of the source of this list, you cannot email them.
You have access to this list as a member of an organisation or club
Although we know that Chambers of Commerce and tradeshows lists, for example, often give access to lists with email addresses to each member, we don't consider this enough permission to use with our service since the permission was not given directly to you. (If you are the organisation owner, that's ok).
You scraped or "copy and pasted" the addresses from the Internet
Just because people publish their email address doesn't mean they want to hear from you.
You haven't emailed that address for more than 2 years
Permission doesn't age well. Even if you got their permission legitimately, they won't remember giving it to you. If you haven't sent something to that address in the last 2 years, you can't start now.
2. Can I add a subscribe form to my site?
Yes! Adding a subscribe form to your website is a great way to attract new subscribers and it couldn't be easier.
Our simple Manage subscribers section gives you a step-by-step guide to customising and adding a subscribe form to your website.
3. Can I import subscribers from a file?
Provided you have obtained the correct permission from your susbcribers, importing your subscriber list into your account is a really simple and straightforward process. To get started, your subscribers need to be in a comma or tab-delimited text file. This is a standard format for storing data and is supported by most applications, including Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, ACT! and GoldMine.
From there, our Manage Subscribers section enables you to easily import your subscriber list to Catch Mail.
4. What if I don't have an email list?
No problem. It's time to get started! There are several ways you can collect email addresses. Catch Mail provides a list-building tool in the form of a sign-up box to be put on your website. Your site visitors can sign up for your email list and their addresses are automatically imported in to your Catch Mail account.
Other ways to collect would be to set up a guest register and have customers provide you with their email addresses that you will import in to your Catch Mail account. Trade shows, conferences, purchases - any time you touch your customer, invite them to join your list.