Not long ago, marketers delivered email campaigns to millions of recipients — regardless of whether or not those recipients expected to receive communications from that sender.
As we shift into an era of ever-tightening privacy regulations and stricter recipient ISP expectations, however, marketers who engage in these outdated batch-and-blast strategies are experiencing far lower open/click rates — thus getting far less value from their email marketing efforts.
But fear not! Compared to the alternative of saturating inboxes with spam and potentially causing end users to abandon email altogether, moving to more calculated and targeted email marketing strategies is actually a good thing! All it requires is a simple shift in perspective.
Most notably, marketers need to empathize with their subscribers and follow best practices for email deliverability. Doing so builds trust in your brand and your email communication efforts. And when you strengthen trust, you start generating serious long-term revenue from dedicated repeat consumers.
So how can marketers thrive in an era of increasingly restrictive email marketing rules? It all begins with your data strategy!
Obtaining data permission to send to your contacts will increase email engagement, leading to more business opportunities. Conversely, marketers who don’t obtain these permissions will suffer from low engagement metrics and miss out on sales opportunities.
What is considered permission to send? How do we get permission? How do we keep it?
What Is Email Marketing Data Permission and Why Does it Matter?
Email marketing data permission means that a contact expressly opts-in to your mailing list, granting you permission to send your email to them.
You should only market to those contacts who have expressly consented and opted-in to your list. By sending only to those subscribers who have expressly consented, you will drive more business opportunities through higher email engagement rates, achieve a more sustainable sending reputation, and obtain a better understanding of your customers and target audience.
However, a subscriber clicking a checkbox doesn’t automatically translate into positive engagement if you’re not setting the proper expectations — especially if your communication permissions request is buried in the fine print. During the opt-in process, make it clear what your end users are signing up for. You’re looking for clear consent here to avoid unsubscribes and the spam folder.
The Risks of Sending Marketing Emails Without Permission
Marketers might be tempted to purchase or rent leads from third-party providers. At Act-On, purchased data is against our terms of service. Permission-based sending is essentially the opposite of buying leads from a third party, sharing data between affiliated business partners, forcing opt-ins, or anything that does not involve the recipient expressly consenting to your marketing communications.
Sending to contacts who aren’t expecting your mail can be expensive, time-consuming, unfruitful, and most importantly, risky. Senders risk poor engagement rates, high spam complaint rates, and a damaged sending reputation — meaning your emails could soft bounce or your domain blacklisted. Most importantly, sending to contacts who have not opted-in to receiving your mail risks violating GDPR and CCPA laws.
Regardless of whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, sending without an inbox owner’s express consent ultimately results in brand damage, poor engagement metrics, and poor ROI on your marketing efforts. It’s just not worth the risk.
Go Organic to Obtain Permission
Now that you know what email marketing data permission is, how should you go about obtaining it? Here are the two most accepted methods of obtaining permission to send.
1. Double Opt-In
The double opt-in method is the best way to grow your marketing list with a highly engaged audience. This method collects contact information from valid contacts who have clear expectations on what they will receive and drives better email deliverability. While your overall list of contacts may be smaller, your engagement rates will soar because you’ll only be sending to contacts who want to receive your communications.
Here’s what the double opt-in process looks like:
Form Submission: The contact completes an Act-On form supplying various demographic and/or firmographic information. (Bonus points if you include a captcha before they submit the form!)
Verify & Confirm: Send the new contact an email confirming their address. Once they click the confirmation link, the contact has completed the double opt-in process, expressly consented to receiving your mail and cementing their position as an active subscriber!
This process requires a bit less work than the double opt-in process. The contact submits their personal information and email address via an Act-On form. Once that’s completed, they are an official subscriber. This method generates a larger (albeit less engaged) email marketing list.
The single opt-in method is not without fault, however. Users commonly submit erroneous personal information. And sending to incorrect email addresses can result in increased spam complaints and bounces, damaging your sending reputation. If your marketing efforts revolve around long sales cycles or ongoing subscriber engagement (as is often the case for B2B marketers), the double opt-in method is a better fit.
When using the single opt-in method, keep a close eye on your bounce rates and spam trap hits. If you’re having trouble with either of these, switch to the double opt-in method.
Maintaining Email Marketing Permission
Obtaining email marketing permission is just the first step in the email marketing process. You also need to maintain it. Just as easily as permission can be granted, it can be taken away. It’s imperative that you respect the privilege that your subscribers have given you in order to maintain their permission to receive your email communications.
Here are some things you can do to maintain your subscribers’ permission:
Let Subscribers Manage Permissions: Include opt-out links in every email you send, and maintain a permissions page that includes options on how and when your customers hear from you. This will help you gain trust and protect brand reputation.
Send Engaging Content: Don’t send your subscribers emails asking them to purchase your products or services! Send them engaging content that makes you stand out as thought leaders in your field.
Prove That Subscribing Is Beneficial: Make unique offers, provide content that would otherwise be gated off, and remind them that subscribing to your mail is valuable to them.
Respect the Privilege to Send: Don’t over-communicate with subscribers. Always ensure you send at times that make sense to them. Email fatigue is a very real phenomenon. Nothing revokes permission more quickly than sending with too much frequency, too much volume, or poor timing.
Passive Revocation of Consent & Sunsetting: Sometimes subscribers give consent to receive marketing communications but later stop engaging with your mail. If a subscriber stops engaging with your marketing efforts for longer than 6 months, consider them unengaged. Before sunsetting them from your active mailing list, consider a re-engagement campaign so that no one accidentally slips through the cracks.
Any subscribers who do not engage with your re-engagement campaign can be sunsetted from your marketing list. Doing so ultimately protects your brand, sending reputation, and deliverability performance.
Learn How Act-On’s Expert Deliverability Consultants Can Help You Achieve Success!
In the world of email marketing, permission has become more important than ever. As marketers are driven by highly targeted sending, adhering to email deliverability best practices to achieve strong engagement rates can be frustrating.
Act-On’s team of expert Email Deliverability Consultants are here to help you at every step of the way. Our team provides ongoing monitoring of your sending performance, personalized engagement reports, and strategic recommendations to help you realize success and drive the most value from your marketing campaigns.
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