The law isn’t enough, it’s permission that counts
While the CAN-SPAM laws are a step in the right direction for reducing the spam problem, 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.
What kind of email addresses are OK to send to with Virtual Tree?
To send email to anyone using Virtual Tree Email Marketing, you must have clearly obtained their permission. This could be done through:
- An email newsletter subscribe form on your web site.
- An opt-in checkbox on a form. This checkbox must not be checked by default, the person completing the form must willingly select the checkbox to indicate they want to hear from you.
- 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 you would be contacting them by email AND they ticked a box indicating they would like you to contact them.
- Customers who have purchased from you within the last 2 years.
- If someone gives you their business card and you have explicitly asked for permission to add them to your list, 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 about that specific topic.
Basically, you can only ever email anyone who has clearly given you permission to email them specifically about the subject you’re contacting them about.
What kind of email address ARE NOT OK to send to with Virtual Tree Email Marketing?
Anything outside the examples above doesn’t equal permission in our eyes, but here are some examples to make sure we’re crystal clear. By using Virtual Tree, you agree not to import or send to any email address which:
- You do not have explicit, provable permission to contact in relation to the topic of the email you’re sending.
- You bought, loaned, rented or in any way acquired from a third party, no matter what they claim about quality or permission. You need to obtain permission yourself.
- You haven’t contacted via email in the last 2 years. Permission doesn’t age well and these people have either changed email address or won’t remember giving their permission in the first place.
- You scraped or copy and pasted from the web. Just because people publish their email address doesn’t mean they want to hear from you.
Sure, some of these people might have given you their email address, but what’s missing is your permission to email them commercial messages. Blasting promotional emails to any of these people won’t be effective and will more than likely see your email marked as spam by many of your recipients.
What content MUST I include in my email?
Every email you send using Virtual Tree Email Marketing must include the following:
- A single-click unsubscribe link that instantly removes the subscriber from your list. Once they unsubscribe, you can never email them again.
- The name and physical address of the sender. If you’re sending an email for your client, you’ll need to include your client’s details instead.
How we’ll know if you don’t have permission
Virtual Tree has numerous layers of approval and monitoring to ensure you comply with our anti-spam policy. Here’s a few of them:
- Until your account has been approved by a member of our team, every email you send will need to be approved.
- Our software is directly integrated into the spam reporting systems for some of the biggest ISP’s like Hotmail and AOL. If you don’t have permission and someone marks your campaign as spam, we’ll know about it the moment that button is pressed. If you receive a complaint rate greater than 0.3% of all recipients (that’s 30 complaints for every 10,000 recipients) you will receive a warning email requesting an explanation and giving you advice. This is a generous figure that takes into account false spam reports. Higher levels of complaints will result in accounts being locked or terminated.
- Our team verifies all large lists imported into our software. Until we’ve given it the all clear, you can’t send to it.
- We monitor blacklists and our abuse accounts all day every day. We can pinpoint who is causing us delivery problems or attracting complaints very easily.
If we do discover that you’re emailing people without their permission, we will terminate your account with Virtual Tree immediately.
In the end, it’s really common sense. Take off your marketing hat and put yourself in your recipient’s shoes. If they don’t recognize who you are or aren’t interested in what you’re sending, they’ll think you’re a spammer. It’s that simple.
If you have any questions about our Anti-Spam Policy, or if you want to report spamming activity by one of our customers, please contact our abuse department at: firstname.lastname@example.org