Does your Email service Provider (ESP) provide you with reports on your email campaigns? Do you track your email opens? Can you see who and when opened your emails, clicked on which links, unsubscribed from your list, reported it as spam, etc?

If you answered yes, don’t you, at least sometimes, feel like you’re spying on your audience?

I’ve been on line for many years and I have yet to come across a privacy policy which says: “After you give us your name, email and permission to contact you, we will also be able to see when you open your email, at what time of day, how many links you clicked, etc. If you agree, please click here.”

If you saw a privacy policy like that, would you sign up? I didn’t think so.

Being CAN-SPAM compliant is one thing, but shouldn’t we go beyond compliance? We should make sure that we respect our subscribers’ privacy as much as possible. At the very least, try not to take advantage of the data you can gather from your ESP reports.

Here’s one possible abuse scenario: an email marketer sends out his/her campaign and closely monitors open rates. S/he then decides to call subscriber Mr. X because he opened his email, which is obviously at his work (you can make an assumption like that if the email address is

S/he proceeds to say: “Hey M. X, I just noticed you opened my email, clicked on a link and thought I could offer some additional information about my products.

Bad idea, I hope you’ll agree.

Tracking is not all bad, actually it helps both our subscribers and us as ezine publishers. The data I’m talking about is “bounces,” or undeliverable emails. This gives us a list of email addresses to which our ESP has not been able to deliver emails. They may be obsolete email addresses, as when people move from one ISP to another, or, if they’re using company email, they have changed jobs. In case you’re not using double opt in, you subscribers might have entered a bad email either by accident or on purpose – just one more reason to use double opt in.

Mind you, not all ESPs are created equal, and they widely differ in this area. Of the ones I have first-hand experience with, Constant Contact offers the most detailed reporting, followed by 1ShoppingCart, while neither GetResponse, nor Aweber offer any information on individuals who open email campaigns. If you’re using Campaign Monitor you can even see open rates broken down to hours of the day!

If that’s not Big Brother, than I don’t know what is.

Speaking of the law, there will be some changes to CAN-SPAM, and it’s happening now. I will report on these changes as soon as they are made public, perhaps as soon as in the next issue of this ezine.

Respect your subscriber’s privacy by going above the requirements of the law. There are other ways to keep track of your list, buy monitoring unsubscribes, for example.

As always, feel free to comment by replying to this email. I am in the process of setting up a blog so you’ll be able to comment there as well.

Keep sending your e-newsletter out, it’s still one of the best way to reach out to your audience, with a very high return on investment.

© 2008 Boris Mahovac – Your Ezine Coach

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