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What is proof of permission and why do I need to provide it?

Contact Lists Updated on April 14, 2010
Proof of permission is some sort of record that tells us that your list is permission-based. By permission-based, we mean that every single person on your list has given you the green light – in one form or another – to email them.

To take things further, the contacts on your list must be from people who know, without question, that they’re giving you permission to email them. To put it bluntly, you can’t bury your permission request using a tiny pre-checked box or in any other inconspicuous way.

What counts as permission:

  • Weblogs Weblogs are electronic logs of data, usually from your Website’s host. These data logs show when a person visited your site, when they entered their contact info on your site, and what their email address is. These logs are incredibly valuable when you want to show permission.
  • Paper signup forms Paper signup forms are filled-out forms that list a person’s email address, name, and possibly other info, along with some sort of note or checked box that shows you have permission to email them. An example would be a sentence on a paper form that says "Can we email you updates on our new products?" with a checked box next to it.
  • Business cards Business cards are not always seen as permission-based proof, as they do not contain any data that shows the person gave you the go-ahead to email them. If you gathered a business card at a tradeshow – using a fishbowl is a common tactic – we may ask you for additional proof of permission (confirmed opt-in emails, for example).
What doesn’t count as permission
  • Verbal agreements Even if you claim that someone gave you a verbal okay to email them, we weren’t present during this exchange so we cannot count this as proof of permission.
  • Hidden permission agreements Like we stated above, if you’re hiding your permission agreement in some way – a tiny, pre-checked box after a transaction, for example – it does not count as permission.
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