Matthew Patterson over at Campaign Monitor raises an interesting point today in his article How far does permission stretch regarding the boundaries of what you could or should expect to send people who provide you with permission to email them.
It seems that whilst Matthew may have provided his email address in order to receive a specific email newsletter or bulletin, someone has taken the liberty of emailing him on a totally unrelated matter:-
One way or another, you have found your way into my database of contacts over time, and I hope you have found value in the newsletters you have received. I am now appealing to you as a husband, at the “request” (you know what I mean) of my wife.
Email-based marketing is an extremely effective medium though there are rules and we expect our clients to stick to them. If you advertise your email newsletter on your website along with a subscribe form you are providing visitors with an opportunity to ‘opt in’ to receiving your communications and at the end of the day, if you start sending your subscribers unrelated material, this is as good as spamming. At best they may just unsubscribe, at worst they may send you a complaint or make it official.
The bottom line is, send what you advertise.