"A few years ago, we collected email addresses at a tradeshow/seminar/conference, and now we're ready to finally start sending them email newsletters!"
Okay, but these people have already forgotten who you are. So don't just start sending them full-blown email newsletters out of the blue. You'll get tons of spam complaints (at Lead Liaison, this is the #1 reason we've had to shut down users' accounts). Even though you collected your list responsibly, you probably waited too long. Now, you have to send a "remember me?" email.
"We're a PR agency, and we want to send announcements on behalf of our clients"
Touchy situation. If you're sending announcements to people who have a "business relationship" with you (or your client), and who know you, then you'll probably be okay. Otherwise, there is no difference between "blasting out" an email announcement to a list of reporters who have never heard of you, and sending a Viagra offer to 5 bazillion people who have never heard of you. Sending unsolicited commercial email to a list is spam according to the FTC. If you'd like a second opinion (albeit equally noncommittal), you can check out this article on MediaPost (registration required, but totally worth it). PR firms are in a weird gray area in our opinion. You'll definitely need to consult your lawyers about CAN-SPAM.
"I've been running an e-commerce site for years. Now I'm ready to start sending my customers email newsletters. They're my customers, so I have a "prior business relationship" with them, right?"
Maybe. Problem is, permission goes stale after about 6 months. So weed out the recipients that haven't ordered (or heard) from you in a while. Send a "Thanks for being a customer. Would you like to subscribe to our newsletter?" You might even include an e-coupon as a gift for opting in. Use common sense. How would you like to suddenly start receiving full-blown email newsletters from some convenience store you bought milk from 5 years ago?
"I setup a fish bowl in my store, and asked people to drop their cards in to subscribe to my email newsletter"
If you explicitly told people you'd be sending them emails, it's okay to use Lead Liaison. But keep in mind that since these are "offline" subscribers, you'll have difficulty proving they gave you permission (no IP address, or date/timestamp of opt-in confirmation). If you get lots of spam complaints, and ISPs or anti-spam organizations threaten to blacklist you, how will you prove each subscriber "opted-in?" You may be asked to fax or email a scanned in image of the complainers' business cards (assuming the complaints weren't submitted anonymously).
"We've got some big, exciting changes coming at our company, and we want to send an announcement to our customers"
Okay, but keep in mind that since Lead Liaison is built for sending email newsletters and nurturing every single email must include an unsubscribe link. Don't ask us to disable that function, because "it's just an announcement to customers who need to know this."
"Our company is moving. We want to send our new address to all our customers."
Okay, but keep in mind that since Lead Liaison is built for sending email newsletters and nurturing, every single email must include an unsubscribe link. Don't ask us to disable that function, because "it's just an announcement to customers who need to know this."
"We want to send a thank you email to everyone who came to our event"
How did you get these email addresses? When people gave their email address to you, were they explicitly told they'd be receiving your email newsletters? Or did you just get their email address because they purchased your tickets online? If it was the latter, then chances are, you used an online RSVP system. In that case, use the RSVP system to send a (transactional) thank-you email. In that thank you message, include a link to subscribe to your Lead Liaison-hosted email list. Do not just assume that attendees to your event also want to be subscribed to an email list. If you just start sending newsletters to them, they'll report you for spam, and we'll have to shut your account down.
"We want to send an email survey to our customers"
You can use Lead Liaison to send a survey invitation, so long as these are your customers, and they gave you permission to send them emails. Keep in mind that if the list is older than 6 months, and these people haven't heard from you in a while, they'll report you for spam. Briefly remind your recipients of who you are, how you got their email (include the date and time they opted-in, if you have the data), and make sure your unsubscribe link is very, very prominent. Some companies use third parties to conduct the surveys (to keep the data unbiased). That's fine, but the email should prominently display your company name (and logo), so that recipients see in the blink-of-an-eye that it's from someone they know. Include your company name in the subject line, too. Lead Liaison also provides survey capability.
"We want to send an announcement to our employees"
Employees need to read your announcements whether they want to or not, right? But since Lead Liaison is for permission email marketing, every single email must include our opt-out link. If someone unsubscribes from your list, our system will not let you send them another email (unless they go through the double opt-in process again). You may want to send "internal" emails from your own server, not from an online service like Lead Liaison.
"We're an agency. We're helping this huge client get their email marketing act together, and their sales and marketing team has assembled a list of emails from their address books, CRM, and..."
Here's the problem. Sales people keep contact information for anything that breathes. Hey, it's their job to spot opportunities anywhere, anytime. We love 'em for that. But those "prospects" did not necessarily give their permission to send them emails. You have to weed out anybody that didn't give their permission, or you're going to get reported for spam. When we shut down your account for spamming, it makes you look bad, and it makes your client look worse. So try to use language they'll understand. Ask them to keep out any contacts that are just "prospects." Tell them email can't be used for "cold calling." If they have a CRM, they probably have fields that indicate opt-in status. If they're just importing from their email program's "Address Book," make sure they filtered their recipients before exporting. Remember that some email programs are set to automatically add contacts to an address book if they've ever hit "reply" to someone's message. We've had users get spam reported because they just exported their entire address book, and then started sending email newsletters to their ISP Tech Support. Address books can get very, very messy. Be sure they were well organized before they the exporting process.