You can avoid being labelled as a spammer if you ask yourself the following questions:
Do I Have Permission to Send Email?
On your web site, collect visitors’ email address and first name, in exchange for a free report (white paper/worksheet/check list/Q&A/10 Top Tips). Use a double opt-in process, so you can have a clean list of people who:
- are really interested
- have white-listed your email address (helps deliverability)
- provided a live email address.
If you intend to collect more than email and first name, you will get fewer people signing up. As a general rule, the more “required” fields on a sign up form, the lower the sign up rate. You may ask questions that may not be considered private, such as “When are you planning to buy xyz?”
On the sign up form, tell your prospects exactly what to expect, i.e. a special report in PDF immediately after confirming the email address, then a weekly/biweekly/monthly newsletter with such and such content. Be as detailed as you can. Providing a sample of the newsletter may also help to clearly define expectations of the kind of content they can expect.
Do I Follow Email Deliverability Best Practices?
Use a reputable Email Service Provider (ESP). Don’t fall into the trap of doing the email sending in-house. Aweber, GetResponse, iContact, or MadMimi and other ESPs do this all day, and they make sure your emails get delivered.
Your ESP will also provide you with custom sign up forms (even unblockable pop-ups), and will provide your subscribers the ability to manage their own subscription (change email address, un-subscribe, change preferences/lists, etc.)
An ESP can provide data on how many emails were delivered, opened, how many subscribers clicked on any links in your email, etc.
Is the Email I am Sending Relevant?
With people’s in boxes bursting with junk, spam, and regular email, being compliant with the law is not a guarantee that your emails won’t be labelled as spam.
These days, spam is in the eyes of the beholder, in other words, even your double opt-in, confirmed subscribers may click the dreaded spam button if they feel that their expectations were not being met. To avoid this, state your publishing policy up front, provide samples, then once they subscribe, provide the content that is in line with their expectations.