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Top Ways to Improve Your Email Marketing - Page 2/10

What is Permission?

“Permission” at its most basic is the user’s consent to receive emails from you. But there’s a lot more to it.

Permission breaks down into “expressed” versus “implied” consent. Expressed permission comes from the user himself, when he checks a box requesting your emails on a site-registration form or point-of-purchase postcard, agrees in person, or sends in an email request.

“Implied” permission is not actively given but is a by-product of another action, such as not removing the checkmark from a pre-checked email-permission box on a site registration form, or clicking the “agree” radio button on an end-users agreement that lists receipt of email as a condition of using the site. The gold standard is expressed permission, the only completely unobjectionable method. Implied permission is just another name for opt-out.

The 2003 U.S. law regulating commercial email, popularly called CAN-SPAM, permits opt-out marketing with a couple of conditions: all commercial emails must have a working unsubscribe function. Plus, emails sent to recipients who didn’t give you “affirmative consent” must include language that the message is “a promotional email” within the message.

But CAN-SPAM just establishes legal criteria for email marketing. It doesn’t promote best practices, and “best practices” means opt-in only.

“Opt-in” is another name for permission email marketing, but even that has two levels:

- “Single opt-in”: The recipient gets added automatically to a list after completing a Web opt-in form, sending in a postcard, emailing a request, etc.
- “Double opt-in” or “confirmed opt-in”: The recipient requests a subscription, which generates an automated email message to which he must reply or click a link to confirm the subscription and be added to the list.

Overcoming Objections to Permission Email Marketing

Evidence has shown that permission-based email lists deliver better results and generate fewer unsubscribes, spam complaints and blocks:

- Marketers who get into the game using opt-out strategies and then switch to strictly opt-in, using either house or rental lists made up of opt-in addresses, have reported seeing click rates jump from the 0.5%-3% range to 5%, 10% or even higher.
- Findings from IMT Strategies (2001) reveal the importance of permission-based over unsolicited emails.
- Seventy-six percent of consumers will delete an unsolicited email without even reading it, compared to 2% for a permission email. Conversely, only 5% of consumers are eager or curious to read an unsolicited email as opposed to 61% with permission email.
- A Harris Poll in 2003, taken just before CAN-SPAM was ratified, found 79% of Americans were “somewhat annoyed” to “very annoyed” by unsolicited email, even if it wasn’t the typical spam. That annoyance transfers to your product or brand. Can you afford to irritate that many potential new customers?
- Email recipients say they open emails from those they recognize and trust and delete unopened email from unknown or suspicious-looking senders. In a Forrester study, the two main reasons participants said they opened commercial emails were because they recognized the sender as a company they signed up with (40%)and because they recognized the sender’s name (52%).
- A Quris study in 2003 found that subscribers who demand high levels of permission and privacy are more likely to open and act on those permission-based emails.
- Although the actual rate varies from sender to sender and list type (B-to-B, B-to-C), click-through rates on opt-out email lists hover in the 1% to 5% rate, while CTRs on house lists can be 10 to 20 percentage points higher.
- An AOL User Behavior study showed email newsletters that used double opt-in had a lower unsubscribe rate -- an average 7.6% -- compared with single opt-in messages, which had an average 22.2% unsubscribe.
- The AOL study didn’t include opt-out email, but a related study found AOL users were more likely to report unsolicited email as spam. When AOL 8.0 introduced the “Report as Spam” in the inbox, the percentage of email reported as spam jumped from 25% to 50%.
- In another study, 71.3% of email users whose email clients offered a spam-reporting button said they used it because they thought it would stop all unwanted email.

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