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Over the weekend, I was booking airline tickets from a certain carrier that will remain unnamed. Just when I thought I was getting an awesome deal, I noticed in the periphery that the price had shot up… However, by that point I’d already hit the ‘Purchase’ button and was well on the way to having my credit card docked. A few moments later, I received an additional email on top of my tickets – it turned out that I had ‘accidentally’ signed up for insurance, too.

Up there on the annoyance scale with unsubscribe links that don’t work are check-boxes that are already checked for you. In this case, some clever sales hack decided that all customers should get signed up to a policy by default… But is this really different from assuming that everyone wants to get signed up to an email newsletter?

Many may say, ‘Oh, but famous retailer X does it!’ and sadly, they may be accurate. However, there are two simple reasons why us folks at Campaign Monitor don’t accept lists that have been collected in this manner, being:

  • It’s not right to send email without prior consent – Email recipients don’t like it and it’s against the law in places like Canada and Australia, so we’ve worked an opt-in requirement into our terms of use to keep our customers on the right side of the tracks. As a result, everyone enjoys high delivery and low spam complaint rates.
  • It makes you a nice guy or gal – Choice is a wonderful thing. I can be a friend to someone and love their personality, dress, or Minecraft addiction. However, I may choose to not take an interest in their LinkedIn, their dog park group or what they’re having for dinner. But say I started getting ‘accidentally’ signed up to updates about dog parks (even though I’m not interested), then things will get a little awkward. Same applies to email – sending without consent is just bad manners.

So, word to all the designers out there with keen clients on the list-building front. Sometimes permission can be a difficult topic to get get started on, but when it comes to ‘affirmative consent’, having your opt-in check-boxes unticked isn’t just about choice, its the law. On a positive note, here’s an example of a newsletter opt-in checkbox that’s doing the right thing:

An unchecked signup checkbox

Finally, we’d love to hear about how you’ve discussed issues surrounding permission (and sign up forms in particular) with your clients. If you’ve had a curious experience, a pushy corporate client or simply a funny quip, please let us know about it in the comments below.

PS: I still haven’t been refunded for the insurance policy yet.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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