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MarCom Matters

January 2013
Issue: #39

Got Permission?

Ah, the start of a new year. And so much to do.

On the business front, this is when I close out one set of books (Yes, there’s only one) and open up a new set, renew client agreements, bump up my website’s copyright date and dig around for the receipt I lost after buying that hard disk drive back in March.

Oh – and unsubscribe from the 642 email lists that I was added to over the course of the year.

If it seems that all you have to do is glance sideways at a Webpage to start an avalanche of unprovoked email that buries your inbox, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. After all, there is a tendency on the part of some companies to reach out on an hourly basis once they have your email address.

Most will claim, “You gave us permission when you entered your address on our form (see the fine print). Besides, you can opt out whenever you choose.”

It’s true that we give up our email addresses in the process of executing transactions like making Internet purchases, downloading a piece of content, commenting on a blog post or joining an online community.

But should those transactions alone constitute explicit permission to send future email? Or is presumptive permission – fine print and all – good enough?

One way to look at it is to step back and ask: Why are we seeking permission – to grow our email list or grow our brand and business? (I know, enough with the questions, already.)

Companies in the former category put a premium on the number of email recipients in the database. Companies in the latter category put a premium on who their recipients are. It boils down to a choice between big (but potentially misleading) numbers versus engaging with those who want to hear what you have to say.

So if you’re thinking about how to get more out of your email marketing, one thing to consider is how you go about gaining permission.

Here are some suggestions…

The bottom line: Presumptive opt-in tends to stir up a little mistrust, even among those who might benefit from your email.

Getting explicit permission means that people are making a commitment to read what you send. Your subscriber list won’t be as big, but you’ll get more opens, more click-throughs and more feedback. Not by everyone or for everything you send, but a decent percentage over the long haul.

And that commitment is what will get you more buyers and more recommendations.

Something you’ll be glad to cross off your to-do list.