How to Use Email Marketing Without Being a Spammer

We’ve heard the terms “spam” and “remarketing” and even “opens and clicks” but what do they really have to do with marketing? One thing they all have in common is a relationship to your email marketing platform. But many small businesses aren’t using that tool to their advantage—to maintain contact with customers.

My Email List is…

Don’t be shy, go ahead and choose one!

  • Nonexistent
  • From my job 6 years ago
  • Mostly friends and family
  • A hot mess
  • Quite well organized actually!

I get numbers 1-4 mostly when I ask clients this question.

And “How do I get more opens and clicks,” is right behind it.

The way you do that is by carefully growing, grooming, and segmenting your email addresses AND maintaining regular contact with those people on your email lists.

Sure, you can drop every single email you have into your database and upload those to your CRM, but wouldn’t it make more sense to be strategic about it? How about segmenting your emails by some categories like: prospects, vendors, partners, referral sources. Or tagging those clients who open one of your emails with “5/5/20 email click” as a retargeting identifier?

And who doesn’t love uploading every single list you’ve ever accumulated…validated or not! Wait, no. Cut that out.

You: A) don’t want to be a spammer; and B) can use a little more finesse with your CRM.

Do collect business cards and share email addresses while being fully transparent that you will be adding those new friends to your email database. Do use a signup sheet or giveaway at networking events – as long as you have the disclaimer “Will receive marketing messages” or some such. Do look at your connections (personal not 2nd or 3rd level) on Facebook and LinkedIn to see if any of those people – who know and recognize you or your business – have emails listed there.

Do NOT buy a list (well, this one’s up to you but I’ve never done it). Do NOT use another company’s list (similar to purchasing), Do NOT assume everyone you know wants to get an email from you. Do NOT put first and last names in one column in your spreadsheet – it really ruins the personalization function.

Instead, do make sure you collect the data you need via a lead generation forms (download, coupon, website, social), join our list (newsletter, mailing list, website, social), text to join (text 33345 to xxxxx) or do collect business cards from people you meet. Notice that last part…people you MEET. It’s a really good idea to have at least a casual, acquaintance-type relationship with someone before you send them a marketing email. Otherwise, you might be a spammer.

Once you start to find contacts to add to your list—or you decide to tackle getting your existing one into shape—you’ll want to remember a couple of things:

  1. Sort people into categories they most likely relate to, i.e. prospect, customer, past client, vendor, friends/family, legislators, media, the list goes on as far as you care to take it.
  2. Put people into more than one segment. Might Sue like to hear what you have to say to Jay and vice versa? People can be segmented into as many lists as you like.
  3. Name your segments appropriately so you can recognize and assign them to messaging later.
  4. In your email blasts, set any links you share to track the clicks, and categorize those clicks into your segments for remarketing (Constant Contact lets you do this).
  5. Make sure your columns are compatible for upload by using columns labeled: first, last, email, phone, address, city/state, zip, notes, birthday…the list goes on and CtCt allows you to upload a CSV version of that database.
  6. If you were able to collect the data, you can schedule automated messages for birthdays, anniversaries, or on reaction to a click action taken by a reader.

Now that you have a list, start discovering what messaging is going to be appropriate for each target audience. You can tweak the email to make it relevant for more than one group (segment) by duplicating and sending it again. You can use a Call to Action (more on that in another story) to Order Online, Shop, Learn More, Call Now…right in your email so people can immediately click to act.

There’s so much more to email marketing than the age-old 14 scroll tome. Keeping a handle on your contacts in a pretty simplified CRM.

A solid part of every marketing strategy is a method for maintaining communication between businesses and their customers. While social media can help fill the gap quite nicely, nothing gives you the probability of reaching the eyeballs of your customers – past and future. And you can bet, if your competitors knew about this, they’d be doing it to.

If you’d like to learn more about email marketing and list management, give me a call at 269-341-3786 or send an email to

Spam warning ahead