Question about opt-in

Discussion in 'Noob Central' started by andy, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. andy

    andy New Member

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    Hi all!

    I'm really new to mailing and I have just been sending out newsletters to my community of subscribers for over a year now. I never really knew that instead of asking for donations and funding to pay for the website to stay up I could do some marketing instead. So for the last couple of months I've read up on email marketing, setting things up and getting ready to do this.

    A few questions surficed during the last week and I've been trying to understand the laws and the CAN-spam act to avoid breaking it. I want to be all legal with this as my community and website has a reputation and "brand" in my niche.

    So, currently I have what some of you would consider a small list, 100k of users that signed up to the website, in my TOS I have clearly stated that by signing up they approve me aka "the website" to send them information or emails. So I feel secure there.

    But since I will be running this marketing campaign from an external source, an email marketing service, I've been wondering about the opt-in liability. How does one prove (incase it's needed) that the list actually IS opt-in? I really can't afford to begin my email marketing journey with being questioned by this email service and not having proof or knowledge as to how one presents that a list is opt-in.

    So I'm turning to you guys, what should I think about before starting my email campaign? How do I prove that my list is opt-in to an external mailing service provider?

    If I'm unclear of anything here or made a mess with my questions, let me know! I'll try to answer as best as I can!

    Thanks for reading this!
     
  2. roundabout

    roundabout VIP

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    You stated the 100K users were optin to your own website, so you should have all their info (e.g. email, date/time, and IP at the bare bones minimum), so you're all set. You DO have this info right?
     
  3. andy

    andy New Member

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    Yes, I do have that info, but I'm not sure on how I get it out from the website. Like how can I present that in a readable way or provide my emailing service with the information? Do I just handpick a few users or do I have to send all this information over? Also, I'm not sure if I'm allowed to send this information over as it might be breaking laws exposing my members IP/username/email to an external source? Not sure on my TOS regarding that actually.

    Since it's just a TOS I basicly copied from a free advice forum on TOS'es waaay back in time, I'm almost certain that I'm not allowed to sell/trade or do anything with their information that has to do with exposing to a third party. As you can see, I'm a bit clueless on how to go from here. Any advice on this would be great :)
     
  4. roundabout

    roundabout VIP

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    If your ESP is asking for proof as you upload, you'll need to format the list so all the info is alongside each record... who designed the form for you to collect the names? There should be a database somewhere you have access to.
     
  5. afc_pmc

    afc_pmc New Member

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    You would simply store their info in your database, and have some way of getting it out upon request. For example, you can make yourself a simpe admin area (which you might already have) that lets you search your user base. You wouldn't give any of this info out unless you were asked to, like if there is a complaint and your ESP asks you to prove they opted in, you would send the ESP the info you have on them (and only them). The info Round stated as a minimum is enough, and any extra info you have will help to show that they did in fact create an account with you. To really be safe, you should also have a checkbox on your sign up page that they need to check to opt in, this isn't required by law since its in your tos but it shows that you gave them the option.

    Your TOS should cover 3rd parties, usually its worded as "your partners or affiliates", so you might already have this in your tos, if not, you should add it to cover your ass in case you ever do need to give / sell that info. But regardless, you are always allowed to provide a 3rd party with information like that if it is required by law, in this case if accused of a Can Spam Act violation, you are automatically allowed to provide this info to legal officals or your ESP to comply with the law.

    So log all of your sign ups in some sort of database, include their ip, time stamp and any other info you have collected on them. If your ESP asks to see your sign up form and it has the checkbox to opt in you should be ok. Your ESP will cover your unsubscribe requests for you and most ESPs will automatically add your mailing address, unsub options etc to each email to force you to comply with the law.
     
  6. JohnFarrell

    JohnFarrell VIP

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    If you don't have the ip address stored you might be able to pull it out of your access logs. Also you'll want to take a "branded" route and actually take time to build up the rep on your own ips. It's pretty simple to setup postfix for something like this and then use PHPList to manage it, because it's a small number. Start putting out a small newsletter once a week or something of that nature and let them know at the top or middle of the newsletter "xyz is sponsering this newsletter. This how we keep our site free for all the users so please show some support". Don't make it the focus of the newsletter, but make it stand out. Also, tell your uses to add you to their contact books (only send from 1 email address like [email protected] and don't change it), click not spam on your messages. Also setup an email account on the domain / ip address you're sending the newsletter from and encourage the users to interact via email with you. I'm not sure the topic of your site, but you might be able to ask for user submissions (questions) that will be posted and answered on the site. If you do this also respond with the answer that will be on the site to the email address they sent it from.

    I hope that helps.
     
  7. afc_pmc

    afc_pmc New Member

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    That's great advice crackpot, I especially like the part about asking the users to respond, that will do wonders for reputation. You're 100% correct about building your own rep, however we don't know where his site is hosted and what his host is going to say about him mailing 100k people per week. I'm sure you know this, but andy may not, even if the list is 100% opt in and you do everything right, they might still shut down your site if they see you mass mailing. Most hosts don't want to deal with the problems caused or possibly having to check if you're following the law or not. If you have a good rep with your host, i.e. you have been with them a while, call them and ask what their policy is.
     
  8. andy

    andy New Member

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    Thank you guys for the answers! I'll reply a bit more in detail later on as I move forward with this. Can't say for sure when I return to the thread but hopefully soon, I'm going to do what crackp0t said. It seems the most resonable. I cancelled with ESP and started to setup a newsletter solution on the dedicated server we run the website. This IP is/has already sent out a lot of emails to members signing up. So the IP's should be warmed up, it's almost like reading a cookbook!

    I'll let you guys know when I bump into problems, I'll share the success (or failure :'( ) when it's due.
     
  9. afc_pmc

    afc_pmc New Member

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    sounds good, if your host allows the mailing, then crack's advice is certainly right on point. Good luck.
     
  10. gspot

    gspot VIP

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    Good call on cancelling the ESP, in the long run you will benefit greatly. Do make sure that you are fully canspam compliant advertiser& Publisher unsub and mailing address...ect lastly make sure your FBL are all properly set up this will greatly help you ip rep.

    ....are you doing any social media ???? :hmmmm:
     

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