How do you know if you are spamming people or emailing those that might be interested in your topics?

Spam by pandemia via Creative Commons

First, ask yourself this question. “Would your audience think that the messages you are sending are relevant?”

If you got your email, would you say “this is something I’m really interested in.”  If not, then don’t send it because you’ll regret it. It’s so hard to get people to give up their legitimate email address. Don’t take it lightly.

People always ask me, “How often should I be emailing people?”

How often do you have something relevant to say?  If you have something relevant every day, then you can hit them up every day.  Think about Groupon or Living Social.  Every day they have a deal.  So they email you every day.  Don’t send a quarterly email if you are doing it because it’s that time of the year. Send it because you have collected the best stuff of the quarter and your audience would really want to know about it.

Second, you are spamming people if they didn’t sign up for your email.

What’s that mean?  You can’t have a student or intern harvest emails from websites or listservs and/or directories that aren’t yours.  People need to sign up for your email.

It’s against the CAN-SPAM act and it can get the university “black-listed”, which can possibly shutdown the university’s email system.  If someone gave you a card or you have personally met them (over the past 2 years) and you asked them about signing up, then by all means, add them to the list. 

You also need to be cleaning up your list as well and making sure it has the right information.  Remember there are a lot of people sending emails from the university and our constituents get upset if their names are misspelled or you aren’t taking them off the list when they have asked to be removed.  If you have a list of alumni and you are sending them emails, you should make sure all of their info is correct.  You can check this with alumni and their directory (which should be the most accurate).

Third, you should not be sending blast emails from your outlook or entourage or whatever client email system you are using.

If you are sending out a large bulk email (anything over 20 people or so) to a list, then use a third party system like Alumni’s imodules system or get your own like mailchimp.  Every blast email should have an unsubscribe link (obvious to the user) and they should be able to unsubscribe to your list.

Fourth, you should make sure your email blasts have good clean copy – no typos or crappy grammar.  Professional photos from are a good idea (don’t steal photos from Google Search or Bing – that’s illegal).  If you are looking for free photos, you can use things like but make sure you give the correct credit to the individual.

Email is a great tool for communicating your message if used correctly.

Used incorrectly, it can damage your reputation and our brand.

If you want to know more, please contact me or Marketing and Communications Web team.  We’d be happy to help.


  1. Spam is any email you send to someone who hasn’t given you their direct permission to contact them on the topic of the email. … them if it was explained to them that you would be contacting them by email AND … If you don’t have permission and someone marks your campaign as spam, we’ll know about it the moment that …

  2. Yeah, the FTC says that if you violate the CAN-SPAM Act law, you could be fined $11,000 for each offence. That means you can get charged $11,000 for every email you sent out. Those fees (along with lawsuits from ISPs) could bankrupt your company.

  3. Wow, this puts a whole new light on email marketing campaigns. Anyone have information on cell phone text messages? Is it basically the same guidelines as email?

    Thanks for another awesome blog!

  4. If you are serious about taking part in Email Marketing you should not be using the standard Mail servers. You should be using an Auto Responder. There are many advantages to this:

    1. 99% of Auto Responders will not allow anyone to manually add emails and will only accept single or double opt ins. This means that you have your first level of protection, two levels deep if someone has double opted in.

    2. You can set you emails in sequence so that they are automatically sent to people as and when they join.

    3. It’s very easy to make good looking and effective email through these programs, usually similar to using Word.

    4. The Auto Responders usually have systems in place which help you determine how mail filters view your message. eg. they regard it as spam because you have to high a ratio of images to text or highlighted text and so on.

    Always remember that the most important factor is it remember that your emails are being sent to real people who should be treated with respect.

    Send them unexpected gifts and valuable content which is relevant to their interests.
    Do this and your subscribers will stay with you loyally and actually read your emails for years to come.

  5. There are services such as ConstantContact or MailChimp that will facilitate the emails.

    However you still need to be compliant to the law. One way is to use the double-opt-in.

  6. Hey there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this write-up to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Thanks for finally talking about >How do you know if you are spamming people or emailing those that might be
    interested in your topics? | Don Schindler <Liked it!

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