Before we get into how to send messages, we have to talk about permission. In marketing, permission is about making sure that the people you’re sending messages to actually requested to receive them and want them. People who send messages without permission are called spammers, and spammers aren’t allowed to use Ontraport.
Even if spammers were allowed to use Ontraport, the marketing world makes it really hard to keep it up for long. Their emails will get blocked and their SMS number will get shut down pretty quickly. In fact, there are some really expensive fines for messing with SMS without permission. So, let’s make sure you do things right, and I’ll show you how in this video.
Ontraport has given you some tools to help make sure you only send email or text messages to people who asked to get them. In every contact record you’ll find two fields:
Bulk email status
Bulk SMS status
Each of these fields has a few different statuses, and I’ll talk about what they mean and how to change them. In general, though, Ontraport won’t send broadcast or automated messages to any contact who hasn’t opted-in or who’s opted out or unsubscribed. However, this gets a little more complicated -- particularly with email. And you should know how it works so you can avoid inadvertently becoming a spammer.
With SMS messages, things are pretty simple. They’re either in or they’re out. But with emails, there are several additional statuses. First, you might see the status “pending review.”
This happens sometimes when you import lists into Ontraport. We have automated systems that scan your list looking for red flags and, if it finds one, it’ll send your list up to our postmasters for manual review. That can take a day or two sometimes -- though we try to be pretty quick about it during the work-week. During that time, your contacts will have the pending review status. While they’re pending review, you won’t be able to send them broadcasts or automated messages. Once they’re approved, their status will change to ‘single opt-in.’
The status “unconfirmed” is an email that was added by you manually, and where the contact hasn’t opted in to receive bulk email. You can email these folks one-by-one, but you can’t put them on blast with a broadcast or automation.
The “single opt-in” status refers to a contact who filled out a form or otherwise has been identified as having given permission to be emailed. You can send email to these folks at will.
The “double opt-In” status is just like single opt-in, but they’ve gone a step further and clicked a confirmation link in an email you sent them after they subscribed. This assures that the person who filled out the form actually is the owner of the email address and not some spammer filling out random email addresses into your forms.
A “hard-bounce” means that we emailed them in the past and got a notice that the address is bad. We won’t mail them again after that.
Finally, we have “transactional only.”
This means that someone has requested not to get marketing emails from you, but you’ll still be allowed to send them transactional emails. These are emails that are specifically about the delivery of a product, such as login credentials, a receipt or an invoice, shipping information and so on.
You can tell us that an email is transactional by checking the transactional box in the editor.
Note that these emails are subject to review and any marketing messages or promotions found in them will disqualify the email from being considered transactional. A couple of strikes on this and our postmasters will be forced to remove the Transactional Email feature from your account. So use it with caution.
Ok, now that you have a grasp on all the statuses, let’s switch gears to opting in. Since we know it’s important to get permission from our prospects and customers to mail, let’s go over how to get that permission.
With SMS, there are two ways your contacts can provide that permission:
They can fill out their SMS number on a form. Or they can send you a text from their phone. If either of these things happens, they’re in.
When people opt-in for text messaging, It’s a really good idea - and actually required in some places - to send them an opt-in confirmation message that tells them how to opt-out. Something like “Welcome to the list! You’ll get daily tips on pet grooming and training, directly from me. To unsubscribe, just reply with STOP and we’ll… stop. :)”
If you start to get complaints about your texts, this initial message may be required by our team or by our SMS delivery partner Twilio.
To opt-in to receive email, they need to fill out a form with their email address. You can also import lists from other services and confirm to us that everyone on your list did opt in, and our postmasters will have some questions for you and do a review and opt in your list.
There’s one more way that people can get opted in, and that’s via the API. By default, we do NOT opt in emails or SMS numbers for contacts who are added by the API. However, you can contact our support team, go through a brief vetting process, and get permission to add opt-in contacts via the API.
It’s also good to understand how contacts can opt out of your permission-based list. In email, they can do that by clicking the unsubscribe link that we add to the bottom of your emails. In text, they can reply with STOP or Unsubscribe and we’ll opt them out automatically. This way you never have to worry about accidentally emailing or texting someone illegally.
Ok! Now that you understand how permission works in Ontraport and how to not be a spammer, let’s send some messages!