A Little Bit of Mailing List Etiquette

A Little Bit of Mailing List Etiquette

This situation has happened enough times that I thought it would be a public service and good mentoring to address it for everyone…

Every once in awhile out of the blue I will receive an ezine email from a colleague. And I immediately unsubscribe.

Why? Because I never signed up for it.

And how do I know that? Because I intentionally do not ever subscribe to the ezines and mailing lists of colleagues.

In response to my unsubscription, it’s also not been uncommon that the colleague whose mailing list/ezine I have unsubscribed from will send me a nastygram.

These have run the gamut from making personal attacks to the childishness of a five year old: Well, if you don’t want to be on my mail list, then I don’t want to be on yours.

(I have news for them, if that’s their level of business maturity, I will unsubscribe them myself.)

Here’s the difference: They subscribed to my list. I didn’t subscribe to theirs.

This is nothing personal. Let me tell you why I don’t subscribe to the mailing lists of colleagues AND why you don’t need me on your mailing list:

  1. I’m not your target market. I am neither client nor prospect.
  2. As mentioned, you signed up for my mailing list; I didn’t sign up for yours. Signing up to someone’s mailing list does not grant you automatic, implicit permission to sign them up to yours.
  3. As an industry mentor, I am dealing with far more people than you. If I subscribed to everyone’s mailing lists “just to be nice” and avoid the morons getting bent out of shape if I don’t, my inbox would be inundated, and I’d never get anything done.
  4. You are not my target market. When I’m wearing my industry mentor hat, granted, the things I have to teach and share do apply to you. But that’s why you signed up to my list, not the other way around. When I’m wearing the hat of business owner in my own administrative practice, I’m only interested in being on the mailing lists of my target market and my own mentors, not colleagues.

So, as a rule, I do not sign up to any colleague’s mailing lists or ezines. As I’ve said, this is nothing personal.

It’s also not something to get upset about. That’s just silly.

Those people who get upset are only thinking of themselves. They certainly aren’t considering the needs and wishes of the other person. And that’s the complete opposite of good marketing and business.

What IS important here is that you understand the dynamics and etiquette of mailing lists when it comes to your business, target market and potential clients.

You’re going to annoy a whole lot of people by signing them up to your list without their permission.

That is bad marketing/mailing list/ezine practice all the way around. Just don’t do it!

Mailing lists are not about you adding people to your list yourself simply because you know them or had a conversation with them.

And just because you signed up for someone else’s mailing list or ezine doesn’t give you the right to add them to yours.

Mailing lists are about letting people self-subscribe by providing information and resources that are of value and interest to them so that they opt-in to your mailing list of their own accord.

It’s okay to connect with people on social media: follow them on Twitter; friend them on Facebook; connect on LinkedIn and so forth.

But never, ever add someone to your mailing list without asking. Instead, give people a reason to join your list and then invite them to your website where they can opt-in themselves.

And remember who your real audience is.

You don’t need anyone and everyone on your list. You don’t even need a huge list. You just need the right people on there which includes those who want to be there and made the choice to be.

That’s how it works, folks. 😉

5 Responses

  1. Lora Schnurr says:

    It’s not just bad etiquette, I believe it’s also illegal to add someone to a list without their permission.

  2. Lisa says:

    Well, I sure learned a lesson in this post. Thanks for the heads-up. I too thought it was the right thing to just “be nice” as you state and sign up. Now I know better. If I don’t want the info, I’m not signing up. And it is good practice to not sign up for colleagues mailing lists. Does that also go for competitors? Wouldn’t it be smart in a way to sign up for their info? Just wondering..

  3. Suzanne Gregg says:

    I had this happen when I handed someone my business card and briefly spoke with them. Where, in that exchange, was my affirmation to add me to a mailing list? Nowhere.

  4. Right? It certainly doesn’t engender any feelings of good will toward them when they start emailing you out of the blue like that. It’s just another intrusion that you didn’t ask for.

    If you were interested in their services and they had asked your permission first, or invited you to sign up for something that was of interest to you, that’s a whole other (appropriate) ballgame.

    Why some people don’t understand this is beyond me.

  5. Suzanne Gregg says:

    Yep! I quickly hit the “unsubscribe.” Sheesh.

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