MailChimp: Can I add someone to my mailing list?

Mar 12, 2013 by

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about whether or not you can just add someone to your mailing list.  Aside from the ethical issues, companies that provide the mailing list software often have their own set of rules which you need to adhere to.

Let’s cover the ethical side first.  Are you one of those people who attends a networking event and assumes that because you’ve been given a business card the recipient wants to receive your newsletters?  If so I hate to disappoint you but that’s not what an exchange of business cards is.

I know that I am not alone in thinking that handing you my business card does not mean I want to receive your newsletter.  My business card has my contact information on so that we may build a business relationship.  If I want to receive your newsletter I’ll go to the website on your card and sign up for it.

You only have to read Twitter some days to see how upset people get about receiving unsolicited email.

A better way to approach it would have been to send me a polite email, telling me how nice it was to meet me, reminding me what it is you do, and then inviting me to sign up to your newsletter if it would be of interest, and include a link to the sign up form.

If you use MailChimp you must not add someone to your list without their express permission.  MailChimp uses a double opt in procedure. This means that when they complete your sign up form they receive an email with a link asking them to click to confirm they do indeed want to receive your communications.  This way MailChimp are sure that someone really does want to receive your information.

You may feel, as do a lot of business owners, that just because you have done business with someone, you have the right to send them marketing emails.  Not according to MailChimp.  Can you prove that the person you manually added to MailChimp gave you permission to add them?

Send email via MailChimp to people who haven’t asked for it and don’t be surprised if they turn around and block your account.

Last year a client supplied me with the wrong contact list and their account was blocked.  This is the response that I received from MailChimp to clarify their policy:

Please keep in mind that business cards, trade show leads, general contacts, and verbal consent are not considered confirmable permission to receive commercial emails. Tangible, verifiable proof that each recipient requested to join a mailing list is required to send emails through a newsletter delivery service like MailChimp, per our Terms of Service and Federal CAN-SPAM laws.If this proof is unavailable, we ask that the list be reconfirmed. Please follow these steps to complete the reconfirmation process:(If a list hasn’t been created with list data in the account, jump straight to Step 3 after you create a list within the account.)

1. Log in to MailChimp and export the list by going to the Lists tab; finding the list in question; clicking View List; clicking View All; and clicking Download.


2.) Remove the members from the list by copying the addresses from the downloaded Excel file. Then go to Lists; Remove People, and paste the addresses into that field. You can only paste 2,000 addresses at a time. This will mark these addresses as unsubscribed. Please don’t delete the list; you just want an empty list. A list can’t be deleted for seven days after sending to it.


3.) Find and copy the “Subscribe Form” URL for the list. Locate this by going to your Lists tab; clicking Forms; and clicking Share It.


4.) Email the list of addresses as you normally would using Gmail, Outlook, your web server, etc., to send the members of  the list an email containing the subscription link from the MailChimp list. Ask them to opt in. They’ll then sign up and be confirmed properly, in a way that’s recordable.


Here’s some additional insight into the reconfirmation process:                                                                                    


It is important, both to protect your mailing service from being blocked, and to avoid upsetting your contacts, that you get their permission to send them marketing messages.

If you’re not sure how to go about this, or how MailChimp could help you keep in touch with your contacts then get in touch.  I’d be happy to have a chat about how HLS Business Solutions could assist you.

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