There are several activities the smartest email marketing pros tend to nail down when either starting, or perhaps re-starting an email marketing program. This segment of “Getting The Message” is focused on getting your list in order.

Permission. Ask and ye shall receive…or not. The easiest way to undermine the performance of your email database, and reduce it from a strategic digital asset to an under performing headache, is to outright skip, or at any level ignore the requirement to get the subscribers permission to communicate with them. That’s right, r-e-q-u-i-r-e-m-e-n-t. While it sounds simple and logical enough, as marketers we sometimes are under pressure to produce instant gratification and results -one of the ways this frequently manifests itself is in short circuiting the process of what’s known as “affirmative consent” – incidentally this is one of the better terms and ideas in the federal CAN SPAM Act of 2003.

However, the point of today’s edition of “Get the Message” is not focused on email compliance with Federal statues -it’s to focus on the impact permission has on your performance -you know, the performance you need right now.

Permission is really a cut and dry issue. You either have it or you don’t. Naturally the marketplace has produced many shades of ‘grey’ in between – not surprisingly the mailers that adopt approaches that are less than clear and simple opt-in permission are called “grey mailers” – so how does that feel? We think it’s “icky.”

But even if you’re okay with “icky”, the quality and performance of your email database and campaigns is highly dependent upon not only if you have “permission” but the quality of that permission, or what’s sometimes referred to as the strength of the “opt-in” (when the subscriber opts to receive emails from you).

There are many ways to get a mail-able name. Because they exist, it doesn’t mean you should use them. In general order of efficacy, and level of permission they are:

1.       On Site Registration with Double Opt In.

2.       On Site Registration with Single Opt In

3.       Co-registration Opt-in, with qualifying questions

4.       Co-registration Opt-in

5.       Co-registration Opt-out (box is already checked, you have to uncheck it)

6.       Co-registration “No-opt” (you are in, can’t get out! You can image how well this works.)

There are other models for capturing a reliable name, but these account for 90% of all email addresses captured today. Wireless & SMS campaigns that require users to text their email to a short code (aka SMS your email address to #VERIZON) can generate very good email-able members, and hold great promise. Circa 2009, these campaigns have represented the minority of opt-ins generated.

The remainder have varying levels of ‘obviousness’ as to the consumer will be receiving email from the sender. We all have seen the “tricks” that marketers deploy. In most cases, they only serve to reduce response rates. So avoid them.

The proverbial bottom line is actually pretty simple… the best lists are growing lists, and if you’re growing your list, you need the subscriber’s permission -before you can reap the results.

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