Permission Now Required

July 2nd, 2009 | By Mark Lewis | No Comments

Permission is no longer an option in email marketing- it’s required. And it’s critical to the success of your campaigns. It is not acceptable – and often illegal – to take a list of email addresses, send them an email, and think that the uninterested will unsubscribe. You must get the recipients’ permission before sending.

Sending email without the permission of the addresses in your list will be detrimental in many ways. They include:

  • Hurting the deliverability of your campaign
  • Affecting deliverability of your future campaigns
  • Creating a negative customer brand experience
  • Being illegal in certain cases

On the other hand, using an opt-in only list dramatically improves your email campaigns. Sending to an email to recipients that have given their permission to receive your emails will:

  • Improve deliverability
  • Increase your brand perception and trust
  • Create better response rates and conversions

What is Permission?

Permission is active consent- a user must consent to receive email from you. The consent must be actively expressed- like selecting a newsletter opt-in checkbox to sign up for an email list. Permission cannot be implied- for example, you cannot send a marketing email to someone just because they bought an item on your web site.


An email campaign sent to an audience that did not provide permission will likely have a higher bounceback rate than an opt-in list. This means you may be sending email to recipients who don’t exist. By sending to these addresses you risk getting your message blacklisted or moved to the Junk/Spam folder, as ISPs see more and more of your emails trying to reach invalid addresses. This means your email won’t reach any more recipients- valid or not. AOL is notorious for this practice, and other ISPs are also making deliverability a factor in flagging a message as spam or allowing it through as a legitimate campaign.

Recipients can also affect delivery, as users who have the option of clicking “report spam” buttons may alert the ISP which will then delete or send remaining emails into a Spam or Bulk folder. AOL, Gmail and Yahoo all have this option.

Return on Investment

Because you are likely paying for every email you send, make the most of your email marketing dollars. Permission email almost always outperforms unsolicited email in opens, clicks and conversions. A small home-grown opt-in list will cost you less money and deliver more value than a large non opt-in list. You will create better return on investment, making you a smarter marketer and achieving better results for your business.

Focus on Permission

It’s up to all legitimate businesses to implement permission best practice techniques. Instead of investing your time and budget marketing to individuals who have no interest in your product, invest your efforts into establishing best practices at your data collection points: web site, direct mail, trade shows, point of sale orders, etc. Your marketing results will improve, and you’ll create a better brand experience…which should be the reason why you are marketing in the first place.

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