Acceptable Email Marketing Address Acquisition Methods

This article is specific to marketing email and will detail what address acquisition methods we find acceptable or unacceptable as dictated by our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).

SocketLabs is used by many clients to perform email marketing. To ensure our platform maintains a very high reputation for the messages we send we have established strict limitations on the methods our customers are permitted to use for acquiring the addresses they contact for email marketing purposes.

This article is not intended to replace what is stated in our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), only to help explain it and in the event of any conflict between this article and the AUP, the AUP will supersede. If you have questions over whether or not your address list is permitted to be contacted via SocketLabs, please email our support team. 


The following lists and methods of acquisition are unacceptable according to our AUP and as such they cannot be used with your SocketLabs account. Using any of the following methods or lists is not
permitted and will result in suspension and possibly cancellation of service.

- Purchased Or Rented Lists

These are lists gathered by a third party that you rent or buy outright, often full of poor quality addresses that will harm your reputation.

" just sold me a list of 10 million email addresses for cheap!"

Warning: A seller may claim that you will be buying an "Opt-In list"

This is not allowed because it is still a purchased list. Opt-in consent is not something that can be bought or sold. It is an agreement exclusively between two parties.

- Scraped Lists

These are lists that involve bots or people combing through websites gathering email addresses, often including addresses in the "Contact Us" or "Support" portions of business websites. This type of list often contains spam trap addresses that can ruin your reputation.

"My bot just finished gathering a list of 500,000 new email addresses."

- Trade Show Lists

These are lists that contain the addresses of all attendees of a show that you can get from the trade show or convention host. These lists are full of people who may not want to receive mail from you and may end up marking your messages as spam.

"I requested the host of the convention send me a list of all the attendees and their addresses; they'll definitely want to buy my products." 

- Third Party Lists

These are any lists that you do not generate or create on your own. Purchased lists are a subset of this category. These lists, however, do not always need to be purchased as they can also be acquired for free.

"I contacted my housing association for the email addresses of its members and I'm going to use these lists to market sports equipment to them."

- False Opt-In

A false opt-in is when people willingly give you their email addresses for something, such as a raffle/contest or a sign-up, but you fail to properly inform them that they are also opting in for email marketing/newsletters.

"I asked people for their business card to enter to win an iPad but I didn't tell them I will be sending them weekly emails."

Warning: This situation can be particularly dangerous because the customer is voluntarily trusting you with their address.

You are not explicitly informing them they will be receiving newsletters or email marketing, however, so any messages sent to these addresses will likely be treated like an unsolicited message.

- Social Media Lists

Similar to the Third Party Lists, this is a method of acquiring email addresses that you did not personally gain consent to use. However this circumstance involves downloading or collecting addresses from your friends and contacts on Social Media.

"Shane chains through contacts on LinkedIn and adds every contact's email address to his list for marketing."

NOTE: Social Media can be a lucrative source for emails but you have to allow the users to voluntarily sign up.

- "Reply All" Lists

As the name implies, these are lists populated with addresses collected from a "Reply All" command during a mass mailing campaign. This is not allowed because those addresses did not voluntarily give consent to receive your emails.

"I don't have to buy a list of addresses, all I need to do is sign up for several marketing lists then just copy the addresses from the emails that I get."

It is important to note one factor present in all of the unacceptable lists: in all of the unacceptable list scenarios there is no establishing consent with the customer or user to receive messages
specifically from the sender. Sending mail to users who did not explicitly consent to receive mail specifically from you will negatively impact both your reputation as a sender and our reputation
as a service provider.


Acceptable lists and acquisition methods do not violate our AUP. We only accept lists populated with valid opt-ins by the customer signing up with explicit knowledge that they will be receiving newsletters and/or email marketing. Opt-In consent is between a customer and a business or brand. There are many ways to legitimately gather these addresses. We'll cover a few examples below.

- True Opt-In

A similar situation to the False Opt-In list, however in this scenario you include a clear statement that anyone entering the raffle/contest or sign up will also be opting in to receive newsletters or marketing emails.

"I run a salon and offer a monthly raffle for a free haircut. Customers need to sign up for our newsletter to enter."

NOTE: Too many messages can result in your newsletters being marked as spam, damaging your reputation.

Even though you are explicitly informing the customer that they are signing up for newsletters, it is important to convey the frequency with which they will be receiving these messages.

- Trade Show Lists

These lists are acquired at a trade show or convention. This time, however, you have a voluntary sign-up for potential customers to receive offers or newsletters.

"We set up a booth at the Flower Show and had a quick and easy signup for our newsletter after our presentation."

Warning: This list can become unacceptable if too much time passes before utilizing it.

A customer may not remember an opt-in from a year ago if they have not received any messages since they signed up.

- Incentivized Opt-in

These opt-ins involve the customer joining your mailing list in exchange for a small discount or future free offers.

"At our restaurant, after our customers finish their meals we leave a small form with their check to sign up to receive our newsletter and get a free appetizer next time they dine with us."

- Survey/Call Center Opt-In

In this example you may be offering a survey after a customer service interaction, and at the end you ask if the customer would like to sign up for newsletters or future promotions.

"Thank you for helping improve our customer service, would you also like to receive offers in the future?"

- Checkout Opt-In

This would be a situation where you offer the customer the option to receive newsletters and/or promotions in the future, maybe even multiple times. These can come in the form of pop-ups during the checkout process in an e-commerce transaction. This is also applicable to physical transactions, such as at grocery stores or clothing stores.

"Before you check out, would you be interested in receiving future promotions from us?"

- Endorsement Opt-Ins

This situation involves a known business or brand promoting your business from within their own legitimate newsletter or advertisement to a customer that opted in with them. These endorsements usually involve linking to your site where you can provide a True Opt-In situation for the user or customer.

"We here at Doug's Burgers suggest you visit our friend Charlotte's Crab House! (Link to Charlotte's Crab House)"

NOTE: In this situation the legitimate business is advertising on your behalf using their own acceptable list.

There is a likelihood that you will end up with a similar list due to the endorsement, however your list will be your own legitimate opt-in list which is acceptable by our policy. You cannot, however, use the other business' list as your own, as that would be considered a third party list and therefore unacceptable by our AUP.

- Direct Mail Opt-In

This method involves taking advantage of the long-standing advertising channels available in print media. With this avenue rather than coaxing users to sign up with incentives or asking just before or after a transaction or interaction, you directly ask the users to sign up. This would involve a check box along with a place for the users to physically write their email address, or a short signup url posted in a magazine.

"If you enjoy this magazine, consider signing up for our weekly newsletter for even more up to date styles!"

- Download Opt-In

Present users with an option to sign up as their download is processing.

"While we prepare your download, would you be interested in signing up for our newsletter?"

- Customer Sharing

This method involves encouraging (but not forcing) existing customers already on your list to recommend you to their friends, remembering to give your customers a "share button". By allowing your list to grow through word of mouth you can gain large amounts of respectability as a reputable vendor or brand.

"If you like the content of this newsletter, tell your friends!"

NOTE: You can potentially increase the rate of customer sharing by incentivizing them to do so.

This incentivizing should then apply to the new customers to bring their friends on board.

While there are many more ways to legitimately acquire and populate an opt-in list, there is one key factor present in all of the above situations: you are explicitly establishing the fact that the customer will be receiving mail specifically from you should they agree to opt-in. So long as you use email lists populated solely by legitimate customer opt-ins you will likely see higher inbox placement and fewer spam complaints.

Final Thoughts

The above examples help to illustrate the differences between what we find acceptable and unacceptable. As the email world changes and evolves so too will our policies on acceptable and unacceptable email lists.