When asked about the key to email marketing success, many people will talk about gathering data and targeting your audience with relevant messages. However, that’s not where to start. Before you even think about gathering or acting on data, you need to establish the right relationship with everyone on your list. We call that permission.
Perhaps you’re asking “What is permission, and why should I care about it?”
Email marketing supports your business. You rely on it to create brand recognition, keep customers informed, and – most importantly – drive your business goals and revenue. To do that effectively, you need to build a relationship with your subscribers in which that person expects you to communicate with them via email – this is a permission-based relationship.
This type of relationship creates recognition and trust, and it helps separate you from the chatter. It’s what both gets you into the inbox and establishes a value for your messages that goes beyond the transactional. It helps you compete for subscribers’ attention on a level playing field with anyone.
And now you might be thinking “Ok, so how do I get permission?”
Email permission comes in a couple forms: implied and explicit. It’s up to you to determine what best fits your customer’s experience and assess your brand’s legal obligations based on the countries you send to (Canada and the EU would prefer you get explicit consent).
- Implied consent is created when someone gives you their email address while doing business with you, and it would be reasonable for them to assume you would then use that email address for marketing purposes.
- Explicit consent is created when their email address is collected either specifically for email marketing purposes (a newsletter signup form) or when you give them the option to actively opt into your email list during some other interaction (like an event registration) where an email address is provided.
There are success stories with both implied and explicit consent, but regardless of which you choose, all senders are encouraged to be as detailed and clear as possible about how email addresses will be used.
Create the right context and expectations
If you think adding context degrades customer experience, brainstorm and find a way to make things intuitive during your signup process. Remember your own experiences receiving marketing emails, both positive and negative, and use them to make better-informed decisions. You’ll likely find that the more context surrounds those experiences, the more engaged you feel.
And don’t rely on just a signup form! The environment in which your subscribers engage with you and your brand, whether physical or digital, can help add to your bond and reinforce permission and engagement. Use their habits and activity to supplement a great signup form rather than relying on dissecting individual events to derive some sort of guessed context for email permission.
What to do once you have the right permission
Well, this part seems easy, right? Send some emails! Craft timely, relevant email campaigns that make you stand out not just as a great marketer, but as a trusted voice in your subscribers’ daily lives.
And remember that this permission might not last forever. For instance, watch for subscribers who lose interest and stop engaging. Try to give them a reason to come back, but don’t fight them when they want to leave. Instead, give them a simple option to do so and let them leave on good terms. You never know – they might be back!
From all of this, remember that if you keep a clear, consistent, and permission-based approach to messaging your subscribers, you’ve taken the first step towards building an engaged and business-driving email list.
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