There is still confusion as to when it's okay to add someone to your email list.
A few weeks ago, I made this distinction:
Your contact list is where you store all of the people you know or would like to know. It's storage. You can safely send postcards and snail mail to anyone on your contact list. You can also send personal emails to individuals on your contact list.
Your email list is for those who have opted in (asked) to receive your bulk email blasts, newsletters, and reminders.
So, what are the rules? When is it okay to add people to your email list?
It’s hunky dory to:
- Send personalized letters & emails to anyone – even if you don't know them personally. But don't forget your manners! Address people by name, be kind, say “thank you,” and sign your name.
You'll gain points if you:
- ASK people if they want to be on your list to receive regular bulk email. This means that if you suddenly start sending a newsletter, you email your entire list and ask them to “opt in” to receive your missives. Don't add people automatically and put the onus on them to opt out. No one should receive your email if they're not interested. You don't want to alienate any recipients.
You'll have better luck getting subscribers if you:
- TELL people what it means to be on your list (what they'll receive).
- Follow through on your promises and deliver good content.
- ASK people to forward your email to those who might be interested.
- Add sign-up forms to your website, blog, and Facebook page (keeping in mind all of the above).
You probably shouldn't:
- Add galleries, curators, art types, or retailers to your bulk email list. As I say both above and below, you shouldn’t add anyone who hasn't expressly opted in (requested to be added). But I want to reiterate that just because someone is in the art business doesn't mean they want to receive your news.
It’s uncool to:
- Add people who don't know you – who wouldn't recognize your name – to a bulk email list (VERY bad idea).
- Add people to a bulk email list just because you signed up to get their email and you figure turnabout is fair play.
- Send an email to your professional list about anything other than what they signed up to receive (Don't forward an email about the budget crisis unless that's what people signed up for).
- Add people just because you're in the same group or organization.
It's always better to be safe than sorry when adding people to a bulk email list. Treat your connections as you would want to be treated.
Any and all names can go on a contact list (address book), but be judicious when adding names to your email list.
Chime in with thoughts about your email list by leaving a comment below. And please let me know if you have difficulty commenting. This has happened a little more frequently than I'm comfortable with and I'd like to know if it happens to you.