Email Permissions – How To Get Them The Legal Way

What rules do you need to follow to be sure you’re subscribing people correctly.

When you send out campaigns to audiences, you need to know that you have their permission. Without permission, you could be breaking several email marketing laws. This can have severe repercussions. You could face a fine or have your email server blocked: either way your business will be financially worse off.

Instead, you need to be sure that you collect email permissions the legal way. Here are several things that you’ve got to do.

1. Be Transparent

The first thing that you need to do is to write content that, during the signup process, informs the audience of what to expect. This should include what content you’ll send them (sales/marketing/news/product updates), how often (once a day/week/month) and what information you will keep.

Providing this information not only informs the audience of what they can expect, it aligns itself with the strictest laws across the world.

2. Be Upfront

The information collected and the reason for collection must be presented before the audience agrees to subscribe to your mailing list. This means that the audience is informed about what they are subscribing too and there is no confusion.

An example of this point, and the first, is when newspapers have been fined for subscribing audiences on one pretence only to send other content. For instance, one paper was fined when it sent marketing content to thousands of users who had subscribed to receive the latest news from the site.

3. Double Optin

While not a legal requirement in all parts of the world, the double optin strategy is an effective way to ensure that audiences are subscribing to your mailing list. A double optin works by the subscriber confirming their permission to receive content through a confirmation link inserted in an email. This allows you to identify who has really confirmed their acceptance and gives you solid proof of that permission.

It can also protect your business. If you use a double optin strategy when you use lead magnets (free downloadables, email courses, etc.), you can be sure that someone is really giving you the correct email address before offering them the free gift. In addition, you can check that the email address is accurate with this strategy which will keep your email marketing list clean.

4. Don’t Send Marketing Content Until You Get Permission

Before permission is given by the subscriber, you should refrain from sending marketing or sales content to your audience. What constitutes as sales/marketing content can differ from country to country and even state to state. Therefore, it is best to only send content that is related to their subscription until you get confirmation.

If you haven’t got some permissions through the double optin solution, you can always send more confirmation emails to potential subscribers. You can do this up to three times before you have to give up. Ensure that the emails you’re sending out to those who haven’t confirmed don’t have any marketing materials. Perhaps include a line this this:

“We’ve noticed that you haven’t yet confirmed subscription to our mailing list, if you wish to do so please click here or if you would rather not, please let us know.”

You can include two links, one which will confirm subscription and one that will unsubscribe them.


Don’t be caught out by sending out marketing/sales content to subscribers who haven’t given you permission. And ensure that you’ve got permission to send the content you want to send them. They might give you permission for one set of content and not for another.

Follow the guidelines above to help.

How do you ensure that subscribers have given you permission? Do you use the double optin solution?

Let us know in the comments below.

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Thinking Outside The Square To Build Your List

Be creative with how you sign subscribers to your list

Be creative with how you sign subscribers to your list

Email marketing is proven to be able to sell your products and services to customers. It has the highest return on investment of any online marketing pathway, and it can deliver relevant messages to your audiences for little cost.

However, one activity that must be done to succeed at email marketing is to build your email marketing list. It is illegal in many nations to buy a marketing list or send marketing content without the permission of the receiver. While some believe, this isn’t applicable to business contact details, laws usually cover any address with personal details in them (i.e. name).

Other ways to build up your mailing list are well known. Downloadable documents such as guides, whitepapers or tip sheets are now widely offered, and differentiating between your brand and others can be tough for audiences. Pop-ups used to be popular as well, but Google is now penalising brands who use them on a website for list building in their search algorithms.

Therefore, you need to think carefully about how you are going to build a list and differentiate yourself in a crowded market.

1. Network Meetings

This is a simple way to collect email addresses and learn more about a prospect before you add them to a list. When you attend business network meetings, and you should, collect business cards from others attending. When you take a card, ask if they would like to be placed on your mailing list.

If they don’t want to, put a cross in the corner of the card, so you don’t accidently add them, but keep their details just in case they change their mind in the future.

To get more people to sign up, don’t talk about the services you offer customers. This is often self-explanatory. Instead, you need to speak about what you can help them with for free. Mention your blog with tips and advice, free consultations, etc. and explain how you use your email address to support these.

2. Letterbox Drop

While direct mail might be costly, it can have a significant return in some aspects of the sales process. If you sell products to consumers or businesses in a local area, consider designing and delivering leaflets to the doors of your prospective clients.

On the leaflet, include the beginning of a story that will entice your audience to want to read more. Then using a link or a QR code, direct the reader to a sign up page. Once you’ve collected their email address, continue the story in a series of auto-responder emails.

This tactic is not only unusual but also highly engaging.

3. Use Your Mailing List

Another excellent way to collect new emails is to ask your current mailing list to recommend your emails to their friends, families, or contacts. This can be done via social media, blogs, or email. Help your subscribers by including a link for new subscribers to sign up, then monitor your results.

Use gamification to engage your current subscribers by having an award for those that can subscribe 10, 20 or the most contacts to your list. Your reward could be a voucher, free product, or discount. Be creative with your reward, but make it relevant to your brand and appealing to your audience. Just make sure you confirm that the new subscriber would like to receive your mailings.

4. Treasure Hunt

Use your website to host a treasure hunt. Hide something on a page in the background and use social media to attract audiences to find the ‘treasure’. Those that do can win a special reward.

To help those participating, you can get them to sign up to your mailing list to receive clues and instructions. They might also need to be signed up to the mailing list so they can receive instructions for entering (i.e. a screen shot of the treasure that includes the time they found the icon).


Building your email marketing list is an important activity you must be doing all the time. However, you can’t just buy contacts, and other methods are becoming overused by brands. Instead, you need to think outside of the square to entice audiences to sign up and receive your marketing content.

How do you sign up contacts to your mailing list? What is the most successful tactic you use?

Let us know in the comments below.

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