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FREE THINGS ONLINE: Basic rules you MUST follow to avoid being accused of spamming

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Basic rules you MUST follow to avoid being accused of spamming

Here is a basic list of simple steps you absolutely must take to avoid being accused of spamming.

1. Keep records of how and when people are added to your list. You need to record the date, time, referring IP address, and referring web page for each sign-up, as well as the first name, last name, and email address. Of course, keeping detailed records is always good business practice, but in the case of opt-in lists, it is critical. If you are ever accused of spamming, your battle to clear your name will be much easier if you have good records to back yourself up.

2. Track requests to opt out, and remove people who opt out of your list immediately. Again, records are a good way to keep yourself safe. And "remove" requests always need to be taken seriously. If you can't implement "remove" requests every day, make sure you always deal with them before sending a mailing.

3. Post your privacy policy on your website, and abide by it. This is just good business sense, and it will also increase your opt-in rate, since people will feel more comfortable sharing their personal information if they are confident it won't be abused.

4. Investigate third-party service providers before signing any contracts for email services. Remember that in the world of email promotions, you are judged by the company you keep. If you are dealing with less-than-honest service providers, you could be the one who ends up in hot water.

5. Be careful when using rental lists. Always ask to see the form that is used to collect email addresses for a rental list so you can make sure that the people on that list will actually be interested in what you have to offer them, and that they did actually give permission to the list broker to sell or rent their address.

6. Use a real return email address with enough storage space to receive your bounce backs and opt-outs. (If you're using a free email service, make sure you have plenty of room in your account before you send a mailing). Even if instruct people to unsubscribe by clicking on a link or sending email to a specific address, you must honor any "remove" requests that are sent to your
return email address as well. And no matter how tempting it may be, do not reply to any angry messages you receive from people accusing you of sending them spam. Simply remove them promptly from your list, and be glad they're gone.

7. Provide easy instructions on how to unsubscribe from your list. If you don't do this, your message will be flagged as spam, plain and simple.

8. Provide a valid physical postal address of the sender. Your promotional emails must include a valid street address, not a P.O. Box or Mail Drop.

9. Use a consistent "from" address. The "from" line must be valid and accurate not misleading or false. For example, you can use the name of your business, or own name. Using your business name in this way (or your own name if it's very identifiable with your business) is also a good way to build your brand.

10. Use an authentic, non-misleading subject line. The subject line must also be valid.

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