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How To Handle Leads Safely

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One of the many questions readers have submitted is:

Q: “I have one list that is comprised of people from a lead company. In view of the spam laws, can I market to these people or not?”

This is a topic that concerns all of us right now and, over which we have many unanswered questions still. So today I thought I would give you my take on the matter and, give you some links and resources for further information.

That way, you can decide what action is SAFE to take.

The short answer to this particular question is “maybe”.

In an interview with Jason Anderson of “Achieve Net Profits” http://www.achievenetprofits.com/archive/issue066.shtml John Glube makes the point:

“Rent a list from a third party, co-generate leads and so forth, the person has to specifically agree to receive messages from you.” John also goes on to say:

“To be sure you are in compliance, you want to satisfy yourself you have “affirmative consent” as the American’s call it, or “direct consent” as the English describe it from your subscribers.”

The interview contains much more explanation that I am not going to attempt to repeat and many useful links, including The Can Spam Act of 2003 and the UK Anti-Spam Regulations.

However, to add to the weight of interpretation, my own translation from the EU Directive, upon which the UK & European laws are based, what’s required is worded as:

“previous and express authorization”

  • Previous obviously meaning you need that authorization, permission, or consent BEFORE you send people anything.
  • One definition of the word “express” in my dictionary is “to state explicitly”, i.e. you have to spell it out exactly what someone is going to get (in advance), so permission being granted is for that specific purpose.
  • The crux of the problem with lead companies and co- registrations, etc., is that it depends on how the leads are collected or what’s promised, but it’s very unlikely to be specific enough to comply with the requirements of the law.

    Often, you don’t get to see what the lead or subscriber sees, so you just don’t know what they are giving consent for, or if they are really giving consent at all.

    And, even if people agree to “receive email” (this is often asked, for instance, in return for a free service) or even volunteer “to hear about great business opportunities” or some such general statement, this is NOT good enough.

    Don’t believe what the lead company or co-registration service tells you about where the leads come from …

    Even if you DO see the page that leads supposedly see, which is completely specific and law-abiding, that may not be how leads are really gathered. In reality, you may be sold lists that were bought from elsewhere, and which were collected, who knows how? I had that happen once with a supposedly bona-fide (and recommended) co-registration service.

    If there is any risk that the leads are harvested and not volunteers, then you would certainly be breaking the law.

    Unless you generate the leads yourself, so you know exactly what you specified and got permission for, is NOT safe to add leads direct to any list and start marketing to them.

    Can you offer them your information or qualify these leads via a confirmation process? You’d have to make a judgement based upon all the individual facts, wording, etc.

    You also have to be prepared with the reality that maybe only 10% will actually respond or confirm, if you are lucky. And yes, this would mean your one dollar leads have now cost you $10.00 each or even more. Not such a bargain, huh?

    Re-think your strategy for the future …

    Build your own lead capture system at your own site. Generate traffic, get listed on the search engines …

    Then people who DO want what you have to offer will be able find and request your information for themselves. The only leads you’ll get this way will be interested ones! And, this really is the only way you can know, for certain, exactly what they were offered and have consented to.

    Protect yourself and know the rules …

    As I said before, there are lots of useful links that you should explore, within the interview with John Glube. http://www.achievenetprofits.com/archive/issue066.shtml

    Something else worth reading is from MarketingSherpa, who spent two and a half hours quizzing the FTC’s attorney on exactly how the new law affects emailers. As they say,

    Read on … and then forward to your legal department: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/sample.cfm?contentID=2576

    Copyright 2004 Pamela Heywood

    Copyright 2003 Pamela Heywood
    Get All Good Things for Your Personal and Business Success
    My short, weekly, newsletter brings you help & resources you can use today … Subscribe mailto:allgoodthings@sendfree.com
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    How To Handle Leads Safely
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    About Pamela Heywood
    Copyright 2003 Pamela Heywood Get All Good Things for Your Personal and Business Success My short, weekly, newsletter brings you help & resources you can use today ... Subscribe mailto:allgoodthings@sendfree.com Or visit: http://www.pamela-heywood.com WebProNews Writer
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