Building Email Marketing Lists: Business Cards Fair Game

Sections of this topic

    Building Email Marketing Lists: Business Cards Are Acceptable

    You’re trying to keep up with the times and build a meaningful marketing email list. After all, email newsletters and email blasts are (almost) free. And they can be segmented to accommodate a wide variety of target marketing messages. Beautiful!

    Is it fair to add contacts from business cards you collect at a business or social function?

    I’ve followed a group discussion on this topic for a few weeks now, and the feedback is quite divided. If there is a tie on this subject, I’m going to break it.

    The pros and cons of “business cards and email list building”

    Some say “YES” – Some business people and feel that it IS fair, that the person who gave their card should expect some follow-up. Business cards have been the source of the traditional list-build for hard-copy newsletters for years, so it’s only natural to extend that to email lists.

    Some say “NO” – The flip side of the coin is that the person who gave the card did not give it with the expectation that they would become a subscriber.

    We get so many newsletters, emails, and spam that it’s very time-consuming (and potentially irritating) to be forced to open emails and sort through them – to scan and delete those that don’t interest you and to be sure to keep those that do.

    How many emails are sent and received every day?

    Statistics, extrapolations, and counting by Radicati Group estimate the number of emails sent per day at around 247 billion – more than 2.8 million every second. Around 80% of these are spam and viruses!

    Average number of corporate emails sent and received per person, per day:
    2008: 156
    2010: 199

    Percent of work day spent managing email for the average corporate email user:
    2003: 17%
    2006: 26%
    2009: 41%

    What’s the answer – add them or not?

    In my opinion, it’s a clear NO. You run a very high risk of creating ill will if you add those business card contacts to your email database without asking permission. Many business people simply drop your email into their spam and block folder – thereby banishing you forever. Horrors!

    Ideally, a “double opt-in” method to build your marketing email list organically is the best and most positive way to create and nurture important relationships that last.

    Do you ask permission first, and if so, how?


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    ABOUT Lisa M. Chapman: With offices in Nashville Tennessee, but working virtually with international clients, Lisa M. Chapman serves her clients as a business and marketing coach, business planning consultant, and social media consultant. As a Founder of iBrand Masters, a social media consulting firm, Lisa Chapman helps clients to establish and enhance their online brand, attract their target market, engage them in meaningful social media conversations, and convert online traffic into revenues. Email: Lisa @