What is Permission- Based Email Marketing?
Before we proceed any further, let’s define exactly what permission-based email marketing is. It is important to notethat there are two types of email marketing. One can either send unsolicited email promotions or send out emailsonly to persons who have requested to receive them. Unsolicited email is, of course, called spam. Sending spam willruin any legitimate organization’s reputation and brand value faster than mold grows on bread that is left outside inthe middle of summer. Rule number one of becoming an intelligent email marketer is to not send unsolicited email.Permission-based email marketing, on the other hand, is used effectively everyday by hundreds of thousands oforganizations to build the value of their brands, increase sales, and strengthen the relationships they have with theirclients and subscribers. The key difference, of course, is that these senders are only sending messages to persons whohave requested to receive them.Let’s take a second to understand the key difference between spam and permission-based emails.
The Axiom of Value
For the last 100 years, companies have relied on traditional advertising in the form of catchy jingles, TV commercials,billboards, print ads in newspapers and magazines, direct mail, hot air balloons, and waving mascots. The techniqueis to interrupt a radio listener, TV viewer, or magazine reader with an attention grabbing ad that compels theconsumer to buy the company’s product or at least have the product closer to the forefront of his or her mind nexttime the individual is making a buying decision.In most instances, advertising is acceptable to the consumer. Most people don’t mind seeing ads while watchingtelevision, listening to the radio, or reading magazines—or at least they understand that these ads are necessary inorder to receive the content they are seeing, reading, or hearing. While technologies like TiVo, DVR, and satelliteradio are challenging advertisers to come up with new methods of advertising, other technologies such as Internettelevision require users to watch a 30-second advertisement prior to the start of a show. The point is, as long as valueis provided, consumers will be willing to be exposed to a few advertisements.This same axiom holds true online. As long as your web site provides content that people value, visitors will continuereturning to the site even if there are a few banner ads or Google AdWords boxes within the page layout. While someweb sites, such as WSJ.com, have successfully switched to a subscriptionbasedmodel, many more web sites rely onbanner, box, skyscraper, and contextual advertisements to earn the bulk of their income.The same axiom, that as long as value is provided, consumers will be willing to be exposed to a few advertisements,also holds true with email. As long as one provides value—whether by providing content on a topic a recipient isinterested in or a discount off a product related to one purchased previously—people will allow you to continueto contact them. Each and every email you send of course contains your logo, information on your products andservices, and links to your web sites. These items are the advertising and should be surrounded on all sides by theitems which make the communication actually add value to the lives of your readers.
Spam however, by its very nature, breaks the axiom. Unsolicited bulk email very rarely has any value. Spam is usuallyirrelevant, always impersonal, and rarely helpful. Everyone with an email inbox knows how aggravating it is tosort through forty new emails to only find two that are from persons you know. While spam may make money forpersons in Eastern Europe promoting fake Cialis, I feel strongly that sending spam will always have a net negativeimpact on any legitimate organization.For this reason, we strongly recommend only sending permission-based email, also known as opt-inemail.Permission-based email marketing can be an extremely effective way to increase visitor-to-saleconversion rates,build strong relationships with your customers, and turn your one-time buyers into lifetime product evangelizerswho recommend your organization to everyone they know. Permission-based email marketing allows companies todevelop and sustain relationships with their prospects and consumers by creating value. Permission marketing isabout “turning strangers into friends and friends into customers” as Seth Godin likes to say.1The nature of permission marketing—building a relationship with a prospect or expanding the relationship with anexisting customer over time—allows you to concentrate on the prospects and customers who are really interested inwhat you have to sell and are more than willing to become repeat customers.