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Healthcare E-mail Marketing and Compliance Terms

Medical professionals are generally very careful to protect their image and ensure the public of their commitment to high standards. Because of this, it is important that your e-mail marketing efforts don’t cause recipients to lump you in with businesses that have no respect for their inboxes.

Not only do you have to do your best to send out quality, permission-based email, but you also need to know the key terms and concepts of the industry, especially when it comes to email compliance. Here are six compliance terms you should become acquainted with:

1.  Spam

Apart from being the national meat of Hawaii, spam is commercial email that was not solicited by the receiver. It doesn’t matter whether the information in the email is useful or not; if recipients didn’t ask for it or give you their email address, that email is considered spam.

2.  Permission-Based

Permission-based means that everyone on your list has given you permission to email them.  If they didn’t ask for it don’t send it – period. There are two types of permissions based on the type of interaction you had with the contact you want to add to your list:

  • Explicit Permission – This is when a contact says “Yes, I want you to send me emails.” This can take place when that person checks a box, types in an email address, or sends you a message. E-mail to any Canadians is important to note that CASL (Canadian anti-spam law) has a few more details defining express and implied permission.
  • Implied Permission - When there is a pre-existing customer or client relationship between you and your contact you have what is considered and implied permission. For example, if someone left a business card at your open house that would be considered an implied permission.

3.  Opt-In / Subscribe
When people give permission to be added to a mailing list, it’s called opting-in or subscribing. Part of permission-based email marketing is making sure that everyone on your list has opted in.

4.   Opt-Out / Unsubscribe

It’s American and Canadian law that every outgoing email should have an easy and visible way to opt out or unsubscribe. It is really to your advantage to make it easy to opt out. Better to have 100 qualified leads on your newsletter list than 1000 who never look at it.

5.  Soft-Confirm

A soft-confirm is the confirmed opt-in’s kinder cousin. It’s a way to gently nudge contacts to confirm their interest in your emails, without making it a “must do” situation. Contacts can confirm their interest and that’s great. But if they don’t, they still get your emails.

6.  Double-Opt In / Confirmed Opt-In

This is the gold standard for getting permission to email someone. When you have this sort of opt-in process in place for new people subscribing to your list, that means contacts must take an additional step to confirm that they want the information. Typically, this is done by having an automatic email sent to someone who just signed up, so that the contact can click the link to confirm he or she wants to receive future emails.

Double-opt ins are great to weed out misspelled or invalid email. Confirmed opt-ins can also be used for purging lists. When you send out a confirmed opt-in email, you’re sending your contacts a link to click. If they click the link, they’ve confirmed that they want to stay on your list and keep getting emails from you. If they don’t click it, you can’t email them again. They’ve unsubscribed.

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About Tim
Tim George is a regularly contributing author to the MDWebPro blog. Tim is passionate about web marketing for MDs expecially the latest trends and results in social media, SEO and inbound marketing. For more, please follow @MDWebPro on Twitter

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