True story.

I was sitting on my couch one evening working on a project and an email popped into my inbox.

from: Bill P
date: Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 8:31 PM
subject: RE: Do Facebook Ads Work? I have stats! + FREE Class I’m Teaching – DigiMedia Minute

What possible right do you have to spam me?

Bill P

I sat on the couch for a few moments, perplexed, as I looked at the message.

WTF to the extreme.

I recognized his company name because I’d written a few articles for them the previous year.

But I didn’t understand how he’d gotten on my list, because I hadn’t added him myself.

Perhaps, he emailed the wrong person– I thought naively.

I decided to email him back to see what I could do to help him.

to: Bill P
date: Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 8:40 PM
subject: Re: Do Facebook Ads Work? I have stats! + FREE Class I’m Teaching – DigiMedia Minute

Hi Bill,

I’m confused. Is this email the “spam” you mean?

Are you on my email list? That’s the only way you would have received this email.

If you are on the list by accident, I’d be happy to remove your address. Or you can click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the message and that’ll remove you automatically.

Please advise so I can correct the problem.

Thanks for understand.

Tivi Jones

I thought that was nice enough. I tried to put on the Southern Belle charmed and show him that I was happy to rectify the problem.

I didn’t expect the message I got back.

From: Bill P
date: Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 8:42 PM
subject: RE: Do Facebook Ads Work? I have stats! + FREE Class I’m Teaching – DigiMedia Minute

Never Ever signed up to anything you are putting out. Period. Spam.

As I did not put my name on this list, I am not taking it off…that is your job.

Bill P

Let it be known: there’s a side of me that I keep in a barred box with chains and padlocks in my head.

I call her “‘Hood Tivi.”

She only comes out on rare occasions. And I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to break her out, but they are usually memorable occassions.

The moment I read that email, that chick rattled her cage.

But – big ol’ but – I didn’t want to burn bridges (but maybe a little scorching would make me feel better, right?) so I said to myself, I’ll just remove him, but not before I see how he got on my list in the first place.

I discovered what could be the issue and emailed Mr. Bill back, with a little venom, courtesy of “Hood Tivi.”

to: Bill P
date: Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 8:52 PM
subject: Re: Do Facebook Ads Work? I have stats! + FREE Class I’m Teaching – DigiMedia Minute

I see the issue: somehow is on my list. Not sure how, as I DIDN’T add it.

Luckily, I am more than willing to remove it.

Thanks for understanding.

Have a spam-free night!


I didn’t get any other messages from cheery Ol’ Bill, but the incident disturbed me for the rest of the night.

Was I spamming people by accident?

How HAD that email address got on my list?

I researched the issue some more and I discovered a huge problem with one program I’d integrated with my email account.

The integration was set to add anyone who purchased products from me to my email list, which people gave their permission to before purchase.

Unfortunately, the integration was flawed in that it was adding the email address of anyone who paid me and not discriminating as to if they’d actually purchased a product from my website where my lovely opt-in advise them as to what they were getting.

So that night I was a spammer.

It sucks, but it happens.

Here are 5 tips to keep YOU from being an email marketing spammer:

1. NEVER buy email lists from people. Never ever. If it’s something you’d hate happening to you, don’t do it to other people.

2. Always double, triple and quadruple check the integrations you have linked to your email marketing system and make sure people using these integrations are advised sufficiently that they may be added to your email list. See my anecdote above.

3. Format your emails correctly, so that email servers won’t mark your messages as spam. For more information on this check my post on “5 email marketing spam triggers you should know about”

4. Do not automatically add everyone from your gmail, yahoo or outlook contact list to your email newsletter list. It’s ok to send them a personal email inviting them to that list, but do NOT auto add them. Trust me, we hate that.

5. Never scrape role-based emails from websites and add them to your list. If you have a bunch of email addresses like:, or on your list, it’s not a good sign. These are role-based emails, so the person receiving the message can change and didn’t necessarily ask to get what you’re sending.

For more information on best practices in email marketing check out my October “Love the Inbox: Email Marketing Strategy” class and my upcoming blog this Thursday on No Rules, Just Write.