A Permission Whitewash

By Cliff Guy

It’s never a good idea to whitewash over the question of where you obtained an email recipient’s contact data. And now it seems, there’s been another whitewash in the Whitehouse!

Returnpath – dotMailer’s deliverability partners – posted a blog recently about the implications of a hot story in the US. The Whitehouse stands accused of sending an unsolicited public information email marketing campaign that generated spam complaints.

Check out the news footage…


At dotMailer we have a feature we call our ‘data watchdog’ that constantly monitors the contact data our users are uploading, based on a complex algorithm.

The watchdog barks loudly if a user loads data that is potentially unpermissioned or from an unscrupulous supplier, so our system and our clients are protected from black listing issues. For this reason, we don’t compel our users to include details of ‘how you got on our list’ in their email templates.

But barking dogs aside, email marketers themselves can take some straightforward and highly effective actions to prevent recipients perceiving their emails as being unsolicited.

1. Use a non commercial welcome email to establish or re-establish permission.

For example, having collected a new email contact, ensure the first message they receive from your organisation is a welcome email that:

    • Reminds them of where they gave you their details and their permission
    • Outlines what you’re going to be sending to them


  • Highlights the benefits of being on your email list and the advantages and privileges they will be able to take advantage of



  • Sets out the frequency of your email messages, so they know what to expect and when


2. Ensure you stick to the frequency of messaging you have set out in your welcome email.

3. Keep permission current. Reach out to the people who don’t open or click, or to older internal lists that you haven’t emailed for a while. Find out what these contacts want and collect their fresh permission to deliver it.

4. Don’t make assumptions. Just because a subscriber opted-in to receive monthly offers doesn’t mean they also want to receive your weekly newsletter or press releases.

5. If you’re sending a message that falls outside the original permission grant, then let the recipient know this and include a prominent unsubscribe link.

For lots more practical advice in this area, check out our Email Revenue Booster Kit on the dotMailer website.

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