A month ago in this space, I talked about the ins and outs of building a good permission-based e-mail marketing list. Today, I’m stressing the “permission” part of the list-building exercise.
Two things bring this topic to the fore today. First, a question posted recently on LinkedIn about getting started with a B2B email marketing campaign prompted a number of responses about the necessity for any list created to be opt-in. Second, marketing and social media expert Chris Brogan complained that he’s been added to one too many e-mail lists by people he’s met in passing and to whom he did not say he wanted to get the person’s newsletter.
In the case of Chris, just because he hands someone a business card or gives them access to him in some way, this does not mean he wants to be added to a monthly newsletter list. Remember, an unwanted e-mail marketing message can negatively impact the brand and reputation you have worked so hard to create.
As I mention in my book, The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing, there are four types of permission to be aware of when it comes to e-mail marketing:
No Permission: If you send marketing newsletters to these folks, then you’re breaking the CAN-SPAM law. Industries with a time-sensitive nature, such as wedding marketers, need to be wary here too. While permission might be granted leading up to a wedding, people are less likely to be receptive to your messaging after the honeymoon is over.
Implied Permission: There’s a relationship between you and the customer. Maybe he’s been a customer in the past or attended one of your events. These people fall in a bit of gray area. Yes, you can send them one-to-one e-mail, but outright adding them to a list can be a little tricky. If your list is made up of more than 30 percent of implicit permission addresses, I highly recommend putting a permission-reminder message on the top of your e-mails that allow people to confirm that they truly want to receive your messaging.
Explicit Permission: These are the people who have knowingly signed up for your newsletter either in person, by phone, or through a Join My Mailing List form on your Web site. It’s good practice to send new additions to your list a welcome e-mail that reminds them they’ve signed up for your list.
Confirmed Permission: Otherwise known as double opt-in, confirmed permission means people who sign up for your list must take one additional step — usually clicking a link in a confirmation e-mail — to signify that they really do want to receive your e-mail marketing messages. For most industries, this is not necessary and can result in a significant loss of sign- ups. I do recommend using it for government agencies, security professionals, and with fields that have a high number of technology professionals.
As a marketer, you should not send e-mail messages to people who do not have any interest in receiving them. It wastes your time and theirs. People who have explicitly signed up for your list and whom you have a solid relationship with will provide a much higher return on your e-mail marketing investment.
Here’s a quick test. Ask yourself the two questions your recipients will ask when they receive your message:
1. Do I know you?
2. Do I care?
You should not be e-mailing any recipients who couldn’t answer both of those questions in the affirmative.