Deb Daufeldt, Principal, Second Story Solutions
truly 'permission-based' marketing program involves two very
important and complimentary aspects. The first is the process by
which you obtain your recipients' permission to send email. There
are some reasonably black-and-white means for how to gain this
permission properly and how rigorous you choose to be in doing so.
second aspect of permission-based marketing has less to do with the
steps and processes you use to collect names and more to do with the
relationship you have with your customers and how you communicate to
and with them. For example, when you ask for a customer's email
address, how do you do it? What details do you give this person
about why they should sign up for your email list and what they
should expect from you as a result?
Use Double Opt-In or Not to Use Double Opt-In - THAT is the
of the key leading practices to which all email marketers should
adhere as part of their permission-based marketing involves the
method in which they create and build their email lists.
Permission-based marketing means mailing to recipients only after
they've given their explicit permission to do so. However,
different ways to obtain this permission from the very rigorous
double opt-in process, to the less favored single (or 'confirmed')
highest subscription standard today is referred to as 'double
opt-in' and requires your prospective subscribers to actively
confirm their inclusion on your list before receiving your next
broadcast email. In this process, your prospective subscriber
submits their email address and other information and then receives
from you a confirmation request with which they must interact (such
as clicking a link) to verify their subscription in order to be added
to your list.
you make your list double opt-in, be sure your prospective readers
expect the confirmation email and understand that they must open it
and follow the instructions to complete their opt-in process.
Explain why this practice protects them and why you require this
extra step in the subscription process offers many benefits:
be remembered. Those who confirm their subscriptions are more likely
to remember they did so when they receive your email thus making it
less likely they will forget and report your email as spam.
email typos. At signup, if the prospective subscriber
mistyped their email address, the bad email address can't be added
to your list without confirmation.
prevent spamming. Some folks find it funny to, as a joke, sign their
friends up for all sorts of stuff on the web. Requiring a double
opt-in prevents this.
an audience that wants to hear from you. These folks have
joined your list because they believe you're going to send them
something of value.
email delivery rates. Since these lists are inherently comprised of
valid, deliverable email addresses you should experience improved
your list(s) clean. Emails are delivered faster since the list
server isn't bogged down trying to resend to bad addresses.
keep you off blacklists. By maintaining a clean list, most of your
email will be delivered successfully. If you send large quantities
of email to bad addresses, email providers may blacklist you and
block all of your email.
response rates. A double opt-in list not only confirms a recipient's
email address, but also confirms the recipient's interest in what
you have to offer.
So why wouldn't you want to collect names in this manner? Well, some perspective readers will not confirm their subscriptions. Perhaps
this isn't all bad, though. If they can't be bothered to
complete their subscription with you, how likely are they to buy
something from you? Another relatively small downside to the double
opt-in technique - it may take longer than you'd like to grow
your list. It can be very tempting to take a shortcut and rent or
purchase a list of email addresses, however, in the long run, the
double opt-in process will help you to develop a list of much more
engaged readers than any other means.
A Less Rigorous Alternative: the 'Single' or 'Confirmed Opt-In'
The single opt-in method consists of one basic step: a subscriber proves
his/her email address to you and then receives your next broadcast
mailing with no further administrative steps. A slight variation on
this is the confirmed opt-in method that sends the new subscriber a
one-time confirmation email (such as 'thank you for signing up¦').
You must decide which method - double, single, or confirmed - is best
for your organization. If the chances for abuse are remote, then a
single or confirmed opt-in method may be sufficient for you.
KNOW that the 'Opt-Out' Subscription Process is a Real NO NO¦
This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Websites that make the user UNCHECK a
box to ensure they don't get added to various mailing lists is a
terrible list-building practice. This subscription approach may lead
to a larger list initially, but may also lead to complaints. If your
recipients don't remember asking to receive your email (because
they DIDN'T), they may consider the receipt of your emails an
intrusion into their inboxes and a breach of trust.
I've had more than a few clients that wanted to simply dump their entire
list of contacts and prospects into their email list reasoning that
anyone on the list should 1) still be interested in hearing from them
or 2) they can always opt out if they don't. We can't ever
assume that these folks wish to continue having contact with us in
Keeping These Newly Opted-in Subscribers on Your List
And now your email list is growing by the day with truly engaged
subscribers, so let's explore some techniques you can use to KEEP
these new opt-ins on your list.
Communicate Expectations¦ and Then Meet (or Exceed) Them. One of the
most prevalent mistakes list owners make is sending content that
their readers aren't expecting to receive from them. This happens
most often when subscriber expectations aren't well understood from
the start. If the signup form doesn't describe what type(s) of
information you'll be sending out, readers will jump to their own
conclusions of what your emails will and won't contain. When you
don't set expectations clearly or meet those that are set,
marketers inadvertently cause people to delete their emails,
unsubscribe from their lists, or report their emails as spam.
Spell out the Timeline, Topics, and Type of Email you'll be Sending.
The time to communicate the type of email or promotion you will
be sharing with your prospective subscribers is when you ask for
their opt-in. As part of the sign up form, consider including some
brief text that describes the topics you'll cover, the format(s)
you offer, and frequency readers should expect.
If you are clear about what's in it for your readers (and assuming
this is value-added content of interest), you're list should grow
even faster. These days, you have to work even harder to get
prospects to let you into their inboxes and being crystal clear on
what they should expect to receive will help. Another technique that
has proven to increase response rates is including copies of prior
newsletters to SHOW readers what they can expect.
Engage your Readers by Giving them Options. Whether your email
topics are very broad or more narrowly focused, your readers will
welcome a choice of exactly what they receive from you, the format in
which it is sent, as well as how often. As an example, perhaps you
send out a short, quickly-read email with tips and techniques as well
as a second, more in-depth monthly publication. Personal preference,
free time, and level of interest will drive which of your
publications (or both, perhaps) your readers will opt to receive from
you. This technique goes a long way as you build a solid
relationship with your readers and helps to prevent list fatigue and
Deliver Only What is Expected. If your readers signed up to receive
tips and techniques and all you send are advertisements, know that
your readers will likely stop opening your emails, mark them as spam,
or unsubscribe from your list altogether. Your ability to gain their
trust is now gone.
Treat Your Readers as you'd Want to be Treated¦ and respect
don't have one, write one) readily available to both prospective as
well as current readers. Be crystal clear about what you intend to
do (and not do) with email addresses and other personal information
your readers share with you. Do you intend to use these email
addresses for internal use only, share them with trusted affiliates,
or sell/rent them to 3rd parties (of course, I hope none
of you do this last one!)? Whatever your policy is, do let readers
know what they can expect.
Don't Forget to Stay in Compliance with the Law. >According to the
January 1, 2004 CAN-Spam Act, you must offer an unsubscribe mechanism
and honor all unsubscribe requests within 10 business days. Today,
even the most basic commercially-available email applications offer
an automated unsubscribe mechanism (e.g., 'click here to be removed
from this list¦'), but if this isn't available in the email
system you're using, offer your readers options for removal such as
replying to the email with the word 'REMOVE' in the subject line¦
and then be sure to do so in a timely manner.
And in Closing¦
Naturally, the goal of most marketers is to get your company's image and/or
offerings in front of as many of the right prospects and customers as
possible and as efficiently and effectively as you can. However, if
you work to build relationships with your readers, provide the value
you say you will, and respect them along the way, you'll likely
reach your goals in the long run.
Deb Daufeldt is recognized as an accomplished strategic thinker and
leader in the interactive marketing space. She has driven
creative innovation to produce award winning results for companies
ranging in size from ground floor startups to the Fortune 500.
As principal consultant at Second Story Solutions, Deb provides
integrated multi-channel marketing strategies and solutions for
acquiring, retaining, communicating with and engaging customers for
bottom line results by optimizing her clients' online initiatives.
Deb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org