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Please, Please, Please Don’t Be Like This (a lesson in what not to do with your email list)

Earlier this year, I was planning an event for one of my clients. It was going to be her first in-person event in over 1 1/2 years.

We were going to go big with signage and attendee swag and photos and videos and lavish catering – the works!

But, I don’t live in the same city as the event. I’ve done event planning on this level before, so I’m fully aware that booking service providers in other states can be challenging and if you have any local resources at all, you use them.

I happen to have another client in the same area as the event, who had also just happened to have had business photos recently taken. Luck of all luck!

So instead of researching photographers online for hours on end, I reached out to this client and asked about her experience with this photographer.

She was happy enough, so I set out to connect with this photographer.

I emailed her directly and told her about the photography needs for the upcoming event. Gave her details on the date and location and shots needed.

She was polite and had a great level of communication – responsive, detailed, helpful.

I told her I needed to think about it and would get back to her. We had a couple other photographer leads on the line, too.

Two weeks went by and so she reached out again. I was loving this level of follow-up!

But a few other projects had gotten in the way and the decision on photography was pushed way down the order.

Not able to commit and not wanting to tie up her calendar, I said it was okay to release the date.

We wished each other well and happily parted ways…

… until a week later.

That’s when IT happened!

The one thing that really gets my business panties in a bunch.

I received her newsletter in my inbox!

What the what?!?

You see, I never signed up to receive her newsletter.

Didn’t even give permission to receive it or be added to her mailing list in our email exchanges. (Note that this has happened to me in the past, where someone has explicitly asked and I usually say “yes”.)


I had reached out directly via email to her email address, not through a contact form on her website, so that wasn’t it.

I then did what any business owner who holds their inbox sacred would do, I unsubscribed AND checked the box on the unsubscribe form that noted “I never signed up to receive these emails.”

You might be thinking, “Wow, Lindsay, that’s harsh.”

But is it?

Not only was what she doing super annoying to me.


It’s also illegal, and not only in the US.

So, beyond the legality of it, why does it matter?

Permission marketing, where you obtain consent from a person to send them marketing messages, is gold when used properly. It helps your business to:

  1. Have higher open and response rates. That’s right? When people raise their hand and say they want to hear from you because what you’re saying is interesting to them, they’re more likely to open and read your content.
  2. Not get sued for misuse of someone’s data. And that’s always a major PLUS! (sorry, I’m a stickler for rules so this one is coming up again)
  3. Build trust with your readers. By complying with the wishes of people who 100% want to receive emails from you, you help to build up the level of trust, that you’re going to show up and deliver awesome content and you’re going to be respectful of their information. And then they’re most likely to spread that word on how amazing you are.

In less than 60 seconds, that photographer tiptoed into #2 (but no, I’m not suing her) and definitely broke #3, which since it was a new business contact, is probably totally gone at this point.

So, please, please, please don’t be like that.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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