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  1. #1
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    Question "inventing" addresses for legitimate business contacts

    My company has an extensive database of real business contacts, but we have no email address recorded for many of them. Somtimes we will have one email, and several other contacts within the same company with no email. Using the known email we can extrapolate a probable email address for the other contacts.

    (example: mary jones = mjones@business.com so we extrapolate that bob smith is bsmith@business.com--sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't)

    Here are my questions:

    1) we will probably get a fair number of bounces back. Does a large number of bounces put you on spam lists, or just if the same addresses are being bounced repeatedly? (we can remove all bounces from future lists)

    2) would this be considered spam, since they are real contacts, but they did not "ask" for an email (periodic promotions, nothing frequent)? Should I include an opt-out of future mailings notice?

    Forgive me if this is in the wrong topic. I couldn't find one that was closer.

    thanks,

    AniMattor

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    If someone has not opted in then you are emailing them without prior-consent which requires your email message to follow certain rules above and beyond those of general email provision in the US and may be illegal in other countries/states.

    http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/...s/canspam.shtm

    As far as getting picked up by spam lists; many corporate filters will notice these bounces and if there's a lot of them, consider your domain bad. If it's just one or two you're not likely to be picked up. Still, my advice would be to solicit emails in your next direct mailing.
    - Ted S

  3. #3
    Avid Logophile silver trophy
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    Make a few phone calls. You can contact the people directly and ask for their email address (even under the guise of "verifying" your best guess).
    The personal interaction will go a very long way to building a good relationship with the customer.

    We are often so focused on the growing technology (and it provides us the opportunity to do more in less time) the 'old fashioned' personal touch is slipping away. Even within my [very large] organization I must constantly remind myself to make a phone call or walk to the other building rather than a (quick) impersonal email message.
    Don't be yourself. Be someone a little nicer. -Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)


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  4. #4
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    Thanks for the link, Ted S. I'll make sure whatever we send out complies with the regulations.

    ParkinT you phone call tip is good, and we were planning to do some of that. Many contacts we have no way of even guessing the email, so a phone call is probably the only way. But we do have a large list of contacts, and phone calls take time and money so we were hoping to save some of both. But not all shortcuts are worthwhile!

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I agree with Ted here. If you're adding people to your email list by "guessing" their addresses and don't have their permission, that's spam, and you should at least be sure you play by the rules if you're going to continue doing this.

    However, playing by "the rules" doesn't matter much if the recipient views your message as spam and you could do your business and reputation more harm than good by doing this.

    Only you can determine if this is worth it for you or not, but personally I wouldn't take the chance.

    Steve

  6. #6
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    If you do decide that it is worth it to you, just be decent and give them an opt out. People need the choice to not receive what you want to send out.

  7. #7
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by talkalot View Post
    If you do decide that it is worth it to you, just be decent and give them an opt out. People need the choice to not receive what you want to send out.
    I agree with Rave Designs.

    It isn't "decent" to give someone an opt out when they haven't opted in.

    If your contacts haven't contacted you and freely divulged their email addresses, they aren't your contacts.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard esds's Avatar
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    Check with jigsaw.com, online directory for business contact.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all the comments. It sounds like the consensus is that cold emailing customers is a bad idea.

    Jigsaw might help with some of our contacts, but I wouldn't like anyone selling (or giving away) my contact info, and I wouldn't feel comfortable using it.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Enthusiast Eric Engel's Avatar
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    If calling each of them would take too much time, then why not put together a mailing. You probably have all their addresses on the cards. You could even give some kind of incentive for having them go to your website and opt-in.

  11. #11
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    How does this sound for an opt-out notice?

    "This email is an advertisement and has been sent to you because of a previous business relationship with [our company's name].

    If you would prefer not to receive marketing emails from us in the future, please reply to this email with “UNSUBSCRIBE” in the subject line."

    Does that cover the bases for CAN-SPAM?

  12. #12
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aniMattor View Post
    How does this sound for an opt-out notice?

    "This email is an advertisement and has been sent to you because of a previous business relationship with [our company's name].

    If you would prefer not to receive marketing emails from us in the future, please reply to this email with “UNSUBSCRIBE” in the subject line."

    Does that cover the bases for CAN-SPAM?
    While it looks as if that is what the law requires, here's the thing.

    Once I "opt out" of your e-mail that I never "opted-in" to, you have my e-mail address. Moreover, many of the "advertisers" who send such emails, send them only to harvest addresses they are unsure of. I won't give you that "surety".

    When I receive e-mails, such as the one you are proposing, the company goes into my spam filter and onto my e-mail blacklist. Moreover, it permanently loses my business both online and offline.

    I once, stupidly, registered for a sweepstakes at a nationally known company while in their store. I am still receiving their spam e-mail although I did try to opt out.

    Fool me once - shame on you. Fool me twice - shame on me. I just don't give anyone the second opportunity.

    If you want to create an e-mail list, then do so by creating a double opt-in list. That's the ethical way.

    If you just "have to" send that first e-mail, use it to direct the recipients to a place where they can opt-in if they choose and assure them that if they don't opt-in, it's the only e-mail they will receive from your company... and then, make sure it is.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    If you just "have to" send that first e-mail, use it to direct the recipients to a place where they can opt-in if they choose and assure them that if they don't opt-in, it's the only e-mail they will receive from your company... and then, make sure it is.
    Excellent advice from Linda here!

  14. #14
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    After the responses on this forum, we've decided we're only going to send emails to established customers who have given us their email address. We won't be "guessing" any addresses. I didn't realized how big an issue what we were going to do would be! We will be including the opt-out on all mass emails to let our established customers know we don't want to annoy them and they can get out of our emails when they want to.

    Thanks again for all the responses.

  15. #15
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    That sounds like a wonderful decision that you have made! I agree 100% with Shyflower-I was just trying to give the best side of a bad idea

    This will do far more for your integrity as far as customers are concerned.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Enthusiast Mike Newton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by talkalot View Post
    ...This will do far more for your integrity as far as customers are concerned.
    Well said. This is the way to go.


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