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If I go to a networking event and collect a bunch of business cards, can I add them manually to my email marketing program? Maybe. It depends on the circumstances. If you asked them if you could put them on your list, YES you may. Ask them to write “yes to email” on the card so you have evidence. If you didn’t ask or you didn’t hear an explicit yes, then NO you may not add them to your email list. Here is the question I am asked a lot, “Surely it is ok to add these people if I have an “unsubscribe” button on the bottom of my email, right?” Not so fast. The front end subscribe is as important or even more important than the unsubscribe button at the back end. Email subscribers must be permission based.

Many people argue that it is ok to add the names now, beg for forgiveness later if they get caught. Doing it the right way from the get go, not only keeps you out of trouble from violating your email program’s terms and conditions, it keeps you out of trouble with the CAN SPAM and CASL laws, and it is the best way to grow your list. The people on it should be the people who are interested in hearing from you. People who want to learn from you. People who will probably buy your products or services down the road, or at the very least refer you to other potential buyers. Your email list should be permission based. So why jeopardize it with subscribers who didn’t give you permission to be added to your list. Some email providers do offer exceptions with the “permission based”.  Some will allow you to add people that are called “implied consent”.  These would be people that you have as customers.  It is ok to add them to your email list, for casual email blasts but I wouldn’t add them to a newsletter list. If they didn’t sign up for the newsletter they may unsubscribe. Besides, why would you want someone on your list that doesn’t want to be.

If you ignore the terms and conditions and you end up with a lot of unsubscribes or accused of SPAMMING, you may get questioned by your email provider and are at risk of having your program suspended or cancelled. In case you are one of those people who are skeptics and would argue I am wrong, I have added a few links at the bottom of this article to add credibility to my advice. Grow it right and your email list will give you golden opportunities to share your message and drive sales.

Hey look, I know it is hard to build that list. You have made the wise decision to have an email program and you want to grow that list. This news is frustrating. I don’t want to have this blog be all about gloom and doom. Below are some tips to help grow the list, the right way.

Ways to get people to subscribe to your list.


  1. If you are a guest speaker at an event, pass around a sheet that clearly asks, “Would you like me to stay in touch, join my email list”.  Have the meeting and date at the top of the sheet. They can add their names. Totally voluntary. You have clear evidence that they gave you permission.
  2. Add a subscribe button to your website. Add a subscribe button to your Facebook Business Page. Blog articles or Ads, or Social Media posts can encourage people to subscribe to your list.
  3. Put a subscribe button on your tablet or mobile phone. When you are at meetings you can suggest they subscribe. Hand them your tablet or mobile, so they can sign up right on the spot.
  4. You got those business cards. Send them a personal email reminding them how they met you and invite them to join your list and have a link in the email for them to sign up. That is not spamming. By the way, great place to let them know about your “lead magnet”.

Links to learn how to keep you business email program out of trouble. Know your audience and what is expected of you.  Forewarned is forearmed.


Save these links for later reference.


Definition of SPAM:

Here is iContacts SPAM policy:

Here is Constant Contacts SPAM Policy:

Here is Infusionsoft’s SPAM policy:

Here is MailChimp’s SPAM policy: AND 

NOTE:  Both Infusionsoft and MailChimp takes SPAM so seriously that they are already adhering to CASL (Canada’s Laws) and require you ALWAYS have EXPLICIT permission and proof. By the way, new rules are coming out for dealing with Europe. Important to know if you have International Clients.

Regarding Governing Agencies: 



Regulations about mobile communications (texting and SPAM) that are now also extending to regulations on commercial email:

CASL (Canada)

NOTE: CASL also applies to Americans who send emails to Canadians – law permits only EXPLICIT permission based emails.


By Janet Elie

Internet Marketing Specialist