Permission Matters in Email Marketing

Posted by Scott Cohen On December 9, 2010 in story time I 0 Comments

I was asked this question the other day: “Do people need to give us permission for us to email them?”

No, but really, an emphatic yes.

No, you are not legally bound to obtain explicit permission you can email someone (if you are in the U.S.). But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The power of email marketing is derived from its reliance on permission.

Email is not supposed to be another interruption (at least in the same way TV and radio commercials are interruptions). The inbox is a fiercely personal place where people only want to see messages from individuals (and companies) they know and care about.

With that in mind, here’s a simple concept:

Respect the inbox relationship–and ultimately, it will “respect” you back in kind.

If someone gives you permission to email them, it means they want your messages. Not only that, but they’re willing to give you valuable space both in their inbox and in their ever-waning attention span to see your messages. That’s powerful stuff, so don’t screw it up.

Here are a few do’s and don’t’s for respecting permission:

  • DO: Make it easy and obvious to receive permission to email your subscribers. Your opt-in forms should be easy to find and simple to complete.
  • DO: Establish expectations upfront for what you will be sending to your subscribers. Establish these expectations on your opt-in form.
  • DO: Send messages that are relevant to your subscribers’ needs. Determine these by measuring engagement and establishing your own benchmarks for performance. The numbers won’t lie (over time).
  • DON’T: Buy email lists. Ever. Seriously. Permission cannot be bought or sold.
  • DON’T: Assume that getting a business card means someone is opting into your email program. All it gives you is the right to inquire once (with an expected follow-up) as to whether the individual would like to sign up for your email program.
  • DON’T: Abuse your welcome in the inbox. Don’t send two messages when one will suffice.
  • DON’T: Go counter to the expectations you set at opt-in.
  • DON’T: Think permission gives you free reign to do whatever you want with your subscribers. Remember, it only takes one email to ruin your standing with your customer.

The bottom line: Get permission to send email. Get this permission organically. And respect this permission with responsible email marketing.

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