When Authors, Tour Hosts, or Bloggers add You to a Mailing List Without Your Permission (RAGE!)

I’ve noticed a new trend: authors, tour hosts, and/or bloggers adding bloggers to their mailing lists without their permission and without any way to unsubscribe! This makes me RAGE! I find it extremely rude and a horrible business practice. But more importantly…

This is spam!

If you add someone to your mailing list without their permission, it’s SPAM. It’s going to hurt your entire marketing campaign, the recipients will not like you for it, and if enough people decide to report your messages as “spam” (which they’re allowed to do if you added them without permission), then your emails could get banned or automatically put into spam folders.

Adding me to your list without my permission is the quickest way to get me to hate your products/services

If you add me to your mailing list without asking me, I will dislike you right off the bat. It shows that you don’t respect me enough to get my permission before trying to throw your products/services in my face. It means I will probably never ever buy your book, sign up for your blog tour, or read your posts.

And if you don’t have an “unsbuscribe” option? That’s a double whammy. There is no quicker way to piss off the people on your mailing list. If you’re selling or promoting something, why would you want to piss off your potential customers/reviewers?

If you don’t have an “unsubscribe” option, you’re in violation of CAN-SPAM!

Most of the newsletters I’ve been added to are not done through a third party service (like MailChimp or ConstantContact) so they do not have an “unsubscribe” option. Instead, they’re just sent through Gmail using “BBC” (or even with all the emails in the “To” field!!!!). This means there is absolutely NO way to get yourself off that mailing list, except to email the person directly and say, “Please remove me”, then wait for them to actually remove you (which they may not do).

Maybe I’m being silly, but I think that’s awkward, especially because at least one of the lists I was added to was made by someone I know. It puts a huge, awkward spotlight on me if I have to message them directly and ask them to remove me.

If you do not have an “unsubscribe” option, you are in violation of the CAN-SPAM act.

Comply with CAN-SPAM

It’s important for all marketers to abide by the CAN-SPAM act. This act was signed into law in 2003 in order to help regulate commercial/marketing emails.

The CAN-SPAM act has a few key points:

Unsubscribe compliance

  • A visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism is present in all emails.
  • Consumer opt-out requests are honored within 10 business days.
  • Opt-out lists also known as Suppression lists are only used for compliance purposes.

Content compliance

  • Relevant subject lines (relative to offer in body content and not deceptive)
  • A legitimate physical address of the publisher and/or advertiser is present.

Sending behavior compliance

  • A message cannot be sent without an unsubscribe option.
  • A message cannot be sent to a harvested email address.
  • Unsubscribe option should be below the message.

These are just a few highlights, so I recommend you read up on the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 in more depth.

Other Resources

Have you ever been added to a newsletter without your permission? Did you find it difficult to unsubscribe?

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I'm a 28 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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35 comments

  1. I do agree! It is super annoying when you’re added to a mailing list without being asked, especially when there never seems to be an option to remove yourself. I’m actually sort of glad you brought it up because we just launched Oh, the Books! and it’s my first time using MailChimp, and I couldn’t remember if there was an unsubscribe button set up in our mailing list. I just checked and it’s there, but still, I am glad you reminded me to double-check! I don’t want to annoy anyone or make it awkward for them to unsubscribe!

    I do have a question about the mailing list thing. For Kelley and I, we transferred our email followers from our individual blogs to our group blog just as we did for Bloglovin’. So now those who were receiving emails for our individual blogs are getting them for our group blogs. Do you think this is an issue? I mean, they signed up to read our posts and this allows them to read our posts still, but now I’m starting to wonder if maybe we should have just ended our last individual blog email saying hey, click here to follow our new blog instead of automatically transferring them over. Things are so complicated sometimes!

    1. If you were just changing the name of your blog or moving a blog by the same person to a new URL, I’d say it was fine. Since you technically created a new single entity out of three blogs, that’s a big of a grey area.

      HOWEVER, it’s similar enough that I doubt anyone would be mad, and as long as you have an unsubscribe button, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal! It’s only seriously an issue if people don’t know how to unsubscribe. πŸ™

  2. I did not know about the Can-Spam act. But I am happy I know now. I ma having a huge problem with being put on mailing lists I did not sign up for and there is no way to unsubscribe. I write them right away, I don’t even care if I know them. I get too pissed to care.

    Jennifer Bielman recently posted: Kindle & Nook Freebies #71
  3. Eh, yes, I have been. But mostly it’s been by friends and things, which is even worse because it feels rude to just come out and say, “hey get me off this list”. The worst is when they clearly don’t know how to do group emails and they do NOT hide anyone’s emails! So I can see the 50 other people on the list and their emails….oh gosh. I just want to…argh.

    Cait recently posted: Stacking the Shelves #15
    1. OMG Ashley this bugs the heck out of me!!!! I’m so glad someone brought this up! As if we don’t have enough emails to weed through daily without the unwanted ones.
      And Cait you bring up a great point. I don’t understand why many of the mass emails don’t bcc instead of cc. It really is not right to share all those emails with everyone. I never say anything but I sure think it… πŸ™

  4. Ugh yes, it’s happened a few times and usually I just mark them as spam but if they become persistent I send out a very angry e-mail to them. No one should do this at all, I don’t think anyone would like being added to a mailing list without their permission. It is the best and sure way to make us blacklist you and create negative publicity.

  5. OMFG I was raging about this the other day! It’s so freaking annoying when people randomly add you to their mailing lists. It’s like, if I wanted those damned emails, I’d sign up myself. And it’s always the BCC group emails that are most annoying and are sent most frequently and it’s like ARGHHHH!

  6. I hate it when I get bulk emails and see my email address (and everyone else’s) in the To box. All I think is “great, now I can look forward to tons of unwanted email. The BCC box is the most important tool someone can learn to use with email.

    Pamela D recently posted: Sunday Update - 3/2
  7. Oh, this annoys me so much! Just today I opened my email and was added to a FASHION BLOGGER’s email list. I was so confused. They had an unsubscribe button, luckily, but still. It really is the quickest way to get people to NOT want whatever they’ve offering.

    Stormy recently posted: February 2014 Wrap-Up
  8. I get sooo many newsletters or just general e-mails that I did not sign up for! Whenever there’s an unsubscribe link, I immediately click it. I’ve only sent the person responsible an e-mail once, since there was no way to unsubscribe. I normally just delete those, but in the one case, it was so frequent I had to contact them. Luckily, he’s stopped.

  9. My own particular pet peeve is the “notify me of follow up comments” button at the bottom of comments which ,any bloggers have checked. I often submit my comment before realizing this option is checked automatically (because it’s below the submit button), and it pisses me off to no ends because sometimes even when I unsubscribe, I keep getting the emails.

    Tanya Patrice recently posted: #BloggingTips {Links #7}
  10. Wow, I’ve never had that happen and find such behavior very irresponsible and rude! The only type of subscription I use for my site are through Feedburner and Bloglovin and I know Feedburner has an unsubscribe and I’m pretty sure Bloglovin does too. But adding someone without them singing up. No way, I I refuse to even look at my feedburner mailing list, not that anyone’s on it yet, at least not the last I looked but still I don’t want to know. I don’t want to know their email, I don’t want to build a list and I don’t want to do any type of SEO stuff. If others do that’s fine as long as they’re doing it responsibly.

    But yeah, not cool. Especially if it’s someone you know. At the very least they should have contacted you and said hey, I noticed you weren’t on my mailing list. Would you like to join? But adding you with no way to unsubscribe. There should be some type of “do not email list” like those state “do not call lists” for phone numbers.

    Jamie Pinson recently posted: Just One Night – Elle Casey
  11. YES I am totally with you! I’m added to about like ten thousand different mailing lists that I literally NEVER signed up for and sometimes someone will email me requesting for me to join their blog tour group, but then without me ever actually joining they’ll just start emailing me anyway? It makes me so mad because I never joined those kinds of things and I really don’t appreciate it when I get newsletters for tours that I have no interest in ever joining. When the instance where they don’t have an unsubscribe button, I email them back telling them that I’m not being active in the tours, and that it would probably be easier for both of us if they stopped emailing me. Probably a little rude, but when I send the emails I’m usually in an angry mood anyway lol. Fantastic post, Ashley! <33

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: Feminist Sunday (6): Rape Culture
  12. I’ve ended up on several mailing lists, with no idea of how the hell I got there and I loathe it. I’ve scoured for unsubscribe options and found none, and, worst of all, the email address that the thing is sent from just bounces angry replies back. With some companies, I have tried contacting admin, sales, etc, but to no avail.

    As far as the classic CC/BCC ballsup, I’ve seen that happen a lot. When wearing my other hat, running GamingLives, we get a ton of PR emails everyday. You’d be surprised how many pro PRs, repping major titles and publishers, have made that mistake. Some I put down to absent-mindedness, but I think that others are just not as familiar as they perhaps need to be with email protocol. Still, that said, I bet I now go and make some cack-handed email mistake now πŸ˜€

  13. This is happening more and more frequently. I understand tour hosts, authors, etc. want to build their mailing lists, but then send out a personalized email introducing yourself and/or service and invite someone to sign up.

    And I totally agree about the ones not done through chimp, etc. that are awkward. I grumble blogged about this a couple years ago and still haven’t found a way to respond in any way that doesn’t make me feel like I’m screaming “I don’t like you!” And so I just mark as spam and get cranky every time I see an email. And one time I responded with a request for removal I was asked “why?” and I really didn’t want to invite a conversation. So I’ve never done since.

    I’d love any suggestions on how to handle.

    It’s the tour hosts ones that irk me the most, though. It’s so easy to create a sign-up form rather than spamming people for tours with constant emails for books in genres they don’t read.

    And thanks for the info update for those who don’t understand the CAN-SPAM. Hopefully they’ll read and comply. Great post!

  14. I’ve been added to so many newsletters and mailing lists without my consent. Most are sent via MailChimp, which is easy to report. And I report every single one. I stopped having my email address on my blog because I was getting so much spam. Now I use a contact form and the amount of newsletters and spam I get has decreased a lot.

    I still get some email blasts from tour coordinators and most don’t have an unsubscribe link because they send from their personal email account. I even received one email from a book tour site where they wanted me to fill out a Google Doc form to unsub. Uh, NO.

    This is one of my biggest pet peeves.

    Brianna (The Book Vixen) recently posted: Book Review: Cole’s Redemption by J.D. Tyler
  15. I’ve been getting lots of mails from blog tour hosts and I didn’t even I sign up for them! The worst part is that like you said there’s no unsubscribe option. I haven’t mailed them asking to be removed from the list because it feels really awkward.

    And it’s really annoying especially when you get mails almost daily! *sign*

    Nuzaifa @ Say It with Books recently posted: Now and Then
  16. This has been a huge issue lately, and it’s always from marketing people. I had one who apparently kept my email from a tour I did over a year ago for someone she did publicity for, who then emailed seeing if I wanted to do a blog tour for HER new book that wasn’t even in a genre I accept! I was totally mad. I have a publisher who has been emailing me requests lately, I -think- they got my email from Netgalley, since I did mention that I wanted to connect with them there and I have been getting autoapprovals lately from them, but aside from them, all these random requests that I keep getting, most of which are coming because I signed up for a cover reveal for ONE author… no… these are getting annoying. I’ve been politely emailing them back and asking them to remove me from their list because I didn’t sign up to be on such a list, and of the four I have mailed, only one actually emailed back to say they removed me, but I haven’t gotten anything from the others, so hopefully they listened as well. I had no idea about the Can-Spam act, so once again, this is an amazingly helpful post!

  17. Okay I just got two back to back emails from a Tour Host whose company name I had never heard of. And of course there was no unsubscribe option. I know for an absolute FACT that I did not sign up for this tour company’s emails so I am really even more annoyed. It’s rude to add someone to your email list without permission. Why isn’t common courtesy common anymore?

    Alexia @ Adventures in Reading recently posted: Review: The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi
  18. I am on so many lists now and get so much junk that I have to spend hours a week combing through the crap to get to legit emails.

    Let me also say that I work in marketing and CAN-SPAM violations are serious business. You can actually get your website blocked if you are doing it through a web address associated with your domain. Although it seems that most are doing it through gmail πŸ™ . I’ve started flagging them as spam, but that hurts the marketers I DO want mail from. So a few bad apples ruin it for everyone.

    Jennifer @ The Bawdy Book Blog recently posted: Audiobook Review: Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth

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