“May I have your card?” Nate stalls….waits….thinks…holds his breath…and replies, “Um, sure” while he slowly hands it over. Why am I holding my breath? There is a growing trend of small business owners collecting business cards and adding those people to their email lists. This is not how to build a mailing list. That’s SPAM. And after you get a couple SPAM complaints from people who didn’t join your list, your email company will close your account, you’ll lose all you lists, and possibly your website.
When someone gives you a business card they are not authorizing you to add them to your email list. Sure, you can add them to your contacts database but not to your mailing list. For someone to join your mailing list, they have to personally enter their name and email address in a form, either online or on paper, and confirm that they would like to be added to your list. And to be extra sure about it, most email management systems then send a second email to the subscribed person requesting that they confirm again that they want to be on the list (called a double-optin). Getting someone’s business card then forcing that person onto your list is…SPAM, and it can get you in trouble.
How much trouble? First of all, you’re shooting yourself in the foot by sending unsolicited information to someone you hope will be a client of yours. Bridge of trust…. BURNED. I mean, really, what are the chances that you are going to do business with someone who yesterday you gave them your business card and today they are sending you mass emails. It tells me I’m just a number to them. Just another business card to put on the list.
Next, like I said, you could lose all your lists from SPAM complaints and get your email account shut down without warning. And, finally, you could get your website hosting account shut down without warning, which means bye-bye to your website, and you’re out of business.
What CAN you do with a business card to build your list? If you ask me, a one-time personal email to the person on the card inviting them to join your email list with a link to where they can subscribe if they want to is okay. It’s a one-time invitation, the same way you would invite someone if you were talking to them in person. And if they don’t subscribe to your list, don’t take it personally. Either your subscribe (opt-in) page needs to be improved or they are just not interested right now. Hey, you and I both know that we can’t be on everyone’s email list. Furthermore, most email management services charge you based on the number of people on your list. You wouldn’t want to pay to send an email to someone that doesn’t have time or interest to read it anyway would you?
However, when you build your email lists the right way, you’ll have a list of people that want you to contact them, and want to you to send them information about what you do. What’s the right way? That’s a whole other topic.
So, protect your business and build your email lists without SPAMMING.