I have just read a piece in our local business newspaper, written by a so-called online marketing expert, all about e-mail marketing.

It reminded me that as we approach Christmas, many companies will be looking to promote their products and services. Many will opt for an e-mail campaign, especially in times of recession where cuts must be made everywhere possible, and postage is one easy choice.

And these companies probably have little experience in e-mail marketing, so here is the first DONT! that this particular article missed out!

Before you send ANY emails to anyone, make sure that they have given you their email address for that purpose. Do not go out and buy an email list, because you are heading straight into the trap of sending out Unsolicited Commercial Email (aka spam).

Do not go searching through your inbox for email addresses for everyone and anyone who has ever contacted you with a view to sending them an email promoting your hot Xmas product. That is spamming.

The full Privacy and Communications Directive laying out what can and cannot be done is here, and everyone who uses email, or many other forms of communications, should have read it.

Although it is rare that we hear of a UK company being ‘policed’ over spam, it is not necessarily the legal effect that will be felt most soundly by your company, but the PR ripple effect, that is often unseen, and you may be unaware of.

Every individual who has to delete an unwanted email will, at the very least, take in the name of the company who sent it, even if very briefly as they hit the delete button. This means you have just had your name or brand associated with the Trash Box!

Probably not quite the effect you intended with your carefully crafted, beautifully laid out email. But it is the effect achieved, and you should avoid it at all costs.

Today’s lesson is: send your emails to those who have opted in to receive them. They are your willing target audience.

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