Do Not Send Blind Survey Invitations
When college students get all worked up about inappropriate uses of email for campus electioneering, it is worth paying attention. Why? Because they are the next generation of consumers (and business decision makers) who will get our requests to participate in surveys. If we do it wrong, they will hit back, and they will be right.
Our local campus-focused daily newspaper in Evanston, The Daily Northwestern, recently reported on a dustup during elections for student government. One of the campaigns harvested student email addresses from the campus directory, then sent campaign messages to students via Mail Chimp. Besides violating Mail Chimp rules, it likely the violated the CAN SPAM law as well.
Clients sometimes ask us to use similar tactics in recruiting for surveys. They want us to blast out invitations to a third-party list they’ve acquired, or they want us to mail out to their customers but not reveal who we are working for. While there are sometimes good reasons for wanting “blind” surveys like this, we strongly advise against it for your own sake.
Here are the Mail Chimp rules, which will protect you from (1) violating the CAN SPAM law and (2) being forever locked out of e-mailing services:
You may not:
Send Spam. Spam can be in the form of bulk emails or one to one commercial emails. For bulk emails we use the definition by Spamhaus, in short “unsolicited bulk email.” For single commercial emails, we define spam as any message that violates CAN SPAM law. You must be able to point to an opt-in form or show other evidence of consent for bulk email.
Use any misleading or incorrect names, addresses, email addresses, subject lines, or other information on the Website or in any Emails created or sent using our Service.
Upload or send to purchased, rented, third-party, co-reg, publicly available data, or partner lists of any kind.
Oddly enough, our own industry association has decided that survey research is not subject to the CAN SPAM law. They suggest that we can do whatever we want for the sake of legitimate research. Fortunately, that does not get around the well-advised rules from services like Mail Chimp. “Nothing personal,” the user rules state, but doing anything “which can jeopardize the deliverability of our entire system” will result in suspension or termination of an account.
So don’t send out blind surveys. Versta Research always say “no” to such requests as our reputation and ability to do business is at stake. If your research objectives require respondents not knowing who you are (a legitimate objective!) then explore options for an opt-in panel-based survey instead. That is something we will happily help you with.