The end does not justify the means. In permission marketing, truer words were never spoken. Don’t kid yourself – just because you collect an email address, doesn’t mean you have really gained permission to use it.
Above all, no matter what, and I cannot stress this enough, in every single email communication, always provide a clear and easy way for individuals to “opt-out” or unsubscribe and make sure you follow through. Better still, give them an easy way to change or refine their areas of interest. Get more information gradually. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are great relationships.
Placing a “Join Our Mailing List” tag on your homepage or other appropriate pages of your website is about as clear as you can get. The visitor knows, without question, that when they input their email address they are giving you permission, subscribing or “opting-in” to receive emails from you.
When people sign up, allow them to select precisely their areas of interest, be it newsletters, sale notifications or new product or service announcements. You can attract even more interest by specifying what the customer will receive and when they will receive it (e.g. “Sign up for Our Weekly Concert Announcement”). Be as specific as you can to get the most targeted audience you possibly can.
Remember that when visitors opt-in, they are telling you exactly what they want – to place an order, to get more in-depth information on a specific topic or to know when their favorite instructor is teaching a Yoga class – and giving you permission to communicate on that subject. This is excellent stuff! You know their email address, have permission to send them what they asked for, and you know something about them. There is no harm in suggesting an accessory on the order confirmation, announcing a “webinar” on your white paper topic or including a compelling description of your newsletter at the bottom of the Yoga schedule. Ask for their permission again. You will be surprised at the response.
Gratuitous emails are not met with gratitude. My advice is to think twice about how many, and what kind of communications you send to your subscribers. You already have the relationship after all. Who wants to chance losing it? So before you press the send button on that email of your most recent press release, ask yourself how many people on your list really care to see it.
When considering renting, much less buying a list, the rule is buyer beware. If the list is too inexpensive, if the provider won’t share the source of their email lists with you, if anyone claims you can “Blast your ad to over 1000 safe addresses for only $5.00!,” or “Buy a CD with 10,000,000 email addresses for only $99!” – this is too good to be true. Consider this, the offer probably arrived as SPAM in your very own inbox in the first place.
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