Open Discussion: How Can You Use Comment Email Addresses

Let’s start the week with a little bit of open discussion.  I want to pose the following question:

“How can you use a commentors email address?”

Let’s step through the process, to leave a comment on a WordPress site you need to leave your email address.  Is this an indication you want to be contacted, have you given your email address over to be contacted by the site owner?

The email addresses are sitting there in your WordPress database, with a little effort they can be exported and use by the site owner to send content or offers to the email address holder.

Have They Opted In?

Has a commenter opted into your stream of messages by leaving their email address?  Have they given their permission to be contacted?

This is a grey area, in my heart of hearts I think they have opted in to discuss a particular post and not to be added to your full list.

But … they have shown interest in your site, they are engaged enough to leave a comment, what if you have some excellent content only available to your email list members.

Can You Ask for Further Permission?

Is it acceptable to export their email addresses and then request their permission to contact them further?  How would you feel if you got a message like this

Hi {name}

I’m contacting all of the people who have left comments on my site to tell you about a free download I have created.   My ebook entitled “The ten best widgets in the world” is available to download at no cost by joining my email list.  You can do this from this link>>

Once they are on your list that is definite permission.

Using Email Addresses

A client of mine wanted to use the email addresses of his commentors to market an upcoming publication.  The site has an active discussion going on in the comments, these people are invested in the site and enjoy the content being created.

I’m pretty sure they would be interested in the offer being made.

Export Emails

I used this plugin to extract all of the email addresses from the comments database so they can be imported into an email service such as Mailchimp.


I tested the process using my own site, I extracted a CSV of everyone who has commented on a post, took that list over to Mailchimp and imported it to make sure the process works.

I now have 124 email addresses in Mailchimp in an unused list.  I know these are people who are interested in WordPress, to be blunt, these all meet my target demographics and are potential clients, there are several potential projects in there, should I mine that data,

What Is The Agreement

How would you feel if you got an email from a site you had commented on?  To me this does not feel right, let’s get this discussion moving in the comments (honest I won’t add you to my list, you will need to opt in first) how can you use an email address?

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