Email marketing: A Caveat for Emails From Contests and Trade Shows

Email marketing for contests | tradeshows

Everyone knows that buying lists of names and emails to upload into email marketing programs is a bad idea. Right? Well, yes and no. While most business owners know that they shouldn’t try sending a purchased email list via Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, iContact or other email marketing programs, you may be less aware that uploading any list can put you at risk for being flagged and shot down by your email provider.

One of my clients recently obtained an email list from a strategic partner who ran a contest they participated in as a co-sponsor. Those who signed up for the contest were informed that their email addresses would be made available to the contest sponsors. Sounds like the good email behavior bases were covered, right?

Not exactly. When my client sent the email list to upload into their Mail Chimp account, I was skeptical about the potential unsubscribe/spam issue. However, we decided to move forward, knowing the names weren’t purchased and were technically permission based.

Here’s the message received when the introductory email was sent out to 700+ new emails after 49 unsubscribes –

This is a warning that your campaign, generated an unsubscribe rate of 7.09%. Please refer to the links at the end of the email for more information on what can cause a high unsubscribe rate. We'll continue to watch this campaign and may send additional warnings.

In communicating with Mail Chimp, I learned their policy is to NEVER allow 3rd party uploads from purchased, rented or otherwise gained lists. If you do, you take your chances of being shut down and blacklisted when too many people unsubscribe. Unsubscribing recipients don’t have to actually flag the email as spam. Just unsubscribe with enough other people and your email program is in trouble.

The moral of the story is this: upload lists of bona fide customers who know you’ll be sending them emails. Unsubscribes will get you in trouble. Period. Or stick to the industry standard of only sending emails to people who have opted in to your email.