Can I Use This List?

There are a lot of ways to collect subscribers, and we encourage you to be creative in building your list.

However, not every email address that comes across your desk represents someone asking to be subscribed to your list.

To help guide you, we've put together this list of situations where you may end up with an email address, and whether or not addresses that you get that way should be added to your AWeber account.

If you have a situation that you feel isn't covered by any of these, contact our Support Team with details and we'll be happy to advise you.

Situation OK? Why?
People are coming to your website and entering their email addresses to get the specific information that you are going to be sending via AWeber. Perfect. They're asking you for a newsletter? You're sending them a newsletter. They're asking for product updates? You're sending them product updates. They're asking to get your blog posts via email? You're notifying them when you publish new content there.

Delivering information to people who come to you and ask for it is EXACTLY what we're here for.
You bought a list of "business opportunity seekers," "fresh optin leads" or any other type of list. No. No, no, no.

We could go on forever about why this is just wrong. Here's the short version:

You don't like getting spam. Neither does anyone else. Buying lists like this and emailing them is out-and-out spamming. Trying to send messages to addresses you acquired this way will get your account closed faster than you can say "and we won't give you a refund, either."

You're better than this. Don't be part of the problem; be part of the solution. Build your own list of subscribers, who are interested in what you specifically have to offer.
You meet Joe at a business lunch, conference, etc. After talking, you realize that you may be a good fit to do business together in the future. So you exchange business cards. Joe gave you his card for the same reason you gave him yours - you want to talk later about doing business together.

If you want to add him to your list, you need to ask him while you're talking. Write his answer on the back of his card - "Add" or "Don't Add" - so that later at your desk, you can see whether or not he wanted to subscribe.
You connect with Joe on LinkedIn, Facebook or another social network. Connecting with you on LinkedIn, Facebook, or any other network doesn't mean Joe wants to be subscribed to your email list. (Do you want to be on every one of your LinkedIn contacts' email lists?)

Just like with the business card exchange, you need to ask Joe before adding him to your list. Ask him after you've connected. If he says "yes," then add him.
You run a contest to win a free lunch. You set up a fishbowl and people drop their business cards in it to enter. If you dropped your business card in there, and instead of a free lunch, you got added to someone's list, you'd be hopping mad. That's not why you put your card in there!

It's important to realize that there's a cost associated with receiving email - the time out of a subscriber's day that is taken up reviewing their inbox and (if they choose) reading your message. That cost is on them, not on you, and you need to make sure that they're aware of what they're signing up for.

Read the next situation to see how to better do this.
You set up a fishbowl for people to subscribe to your newsletter. You state that each month one new subscriber will win a free lunch. Much better. I'm signing up to your newsletter, AND entering myself in the drawing simultaneously. I'm aware that I'm going to get email messages as a result of dropping my card in the bowl, and I've got nothing to blame but my own freebie-seeking when those messages show up in my inbox.
You've been using an online opt-in form or in-store signup sheet to collect addresses for some time now, but you've never done anything with those addresses. Now you're ready to. How long has it been? People who signed up last week and people who signed up last year are NOT equal.

Permission is specific: subscribers are asking a specific person - you - for a specific piece of information, at a specific time. As time passes, so does their interest.

If it's been more than a couple months since someone signed up, that permission is stale. Don't bother with them. If it's less than that, go for it. Take care to remind subscribers WHY they're getting an email from you and to work to restore their trust in you.

It's important here to separate out the "newer" subscribers (who you're going to email) and the "older" ones (whose permission has expired). If you can't distinguish between them, you're better off throwing out the lot of them and starting over, today.
You go to a trade show. Prior to the trade show, the organizer provides you a list of the attendees and their contact information. Same as the business card exchange. The other attendees didn't pay the entry fee so that they could get email from you.

Can you imagine a trade show with thousands of attendees, where everyone did this? You'd start getting thousands of emails overnight. Not good for anyone.

For a better idea, keep reading.
You go to a trade show. At your booth, you provide a signup sheet, or a box/bowl for people to drop their card in specifically to get on your list. Now, you're getting people who are interested in YOUR specific business and information.

By the way, act promptly with these addresses. The longer you wait to start delivering value to them through your messages, the less likely they are to remember who you are, and to stay on your list.
You're a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, and you're provided a list of the other members and their contact information. Being in the Chamber of Commerce doesn't mean you give up control over your inbox.

If people haven't requested information from you, don't add them to your list, regardless of whether or not they're a fellow business owner in your area.
You export your Contact List from Microsoft Outlook. Slow down for a second. WHO are you exporting from there? Just people who subscribed to your list while you were managing it manually? Or are you exporting EVERYONE in your address book, without regard to HOW they got in your address book in the first place?

Permission isn't taken, it's given. Don't just add people to your list because now you've got their email address. Add them if they GAVE it to you in order to get on your list.
You own a restaurant, bar, coffee shop, etc. On each table, you leave a pencil and a card offering your newsletter. Just like the fishbowl signup - as long as people are leaving their email address specifically to get on your list, that's perfect.

And just like the trade show signup - don't delay in getting those people on your list. Remember, as time passes, so does their interest, and permission eventually expires.
You offer email support on your website. People email you questions about your product. You want to add them to a prospect list. After all, they're obviously interested in what you have to offer, right? They may have had a question about your product, but they didn't ask to be subscribed to your list. Adding them to one isn't a good way to build trust and credibility.

When you reply to support emails, use your signature file to include a link to your opt-in form.
You're in charge of a group of coworkers who are working on a project. You want to use AWeber to send them notices about meetings, changes in schedule, and other related information. Coworkers or not, anyone who you email with AWeber must ask you for that information specifically. Spam complaints from coworkers are just as serious to ISPs and to us as complaints from any other subscribers.

Make sure that you personally check with each member of your team and get their permission prior to importing them into your AWeber account.
You have a list of email addresses you collected from Facebook fans and Twitter followers, who you think would want to receive your email newsletter too. You know what good email marketers say: "Assuming makes a spammer out of you and me". By following you one way, a viewer is not saying they'd like to follow you every which way.

You might ask your viewers if they'd like to get your newsletter, directing them to a form on your site to sign up. But don't add them without specific permission.


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