Everything you need to know about permission-based email marketing

Lilach Bullock on Email marketing,


Permission-based email marketing is the most effective way to build lasting relationships with your client base. Get it right, and watch your click-rates soar and business boom. 
Building an email database requires a little resourcefulness and a lot of patience, but is worth it in the long run. Trust us: When it comes to building an email database, quality is much more important than quantity.



What is permission?

Permission is verifiable consent to contact subscribers via email. 
Marketing emails must abide by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR). According to the regulations, organisations can only send marketing emails to individuals if they have agreed to receive them, unless there is a clearly defined customer relationship.


Essentially, permission-based email marketing (also known as opt-in marketing) requires contacts to give you permission before adding them to an email database. To cover your back, it’s important to make any requests for permission as clear as possible, and not to tie them to other agreements.


Permission can be implied – (if you have conducted business with a particular client in the past, there’s nothing to stop you contacting them in future) or express – obtained via an online sign up form, or other explicit agreement.


CRM systems and tools allow you to integrate customer data into your contacts database, ensuring that you don’t have to manage two lists: one for those who have given permission explicitly and one for those whose permission is only implied.


From a subscriber’s perspective, asking for permission shows that a business respects their privacy. From a business’ perspective, permission guarantees that they’re only contacting those with an interest in their products or services.

It's okay to contact someone you met

Permission marketing

There’s nothing to stop you sending a follow-up email to somebody you met and are interested in doing business with.


The law is designed to stop organisations adding people to mailing lists without their consent. If, instead of following up a meeting with a polite email, you signed someone up for your weekly newsletter instead, you’d be flouting the regulations. Always seek express permission before signing somebody to your newsletter, no matter how interested they were in your business. It doesn’t matter how easy it is to opt out, don’t add someone to your mailing list unless they’ve asked.




What do I do once I’ve been given permission?

It’s important to notify clients that they have been confirmed as a subscriber - whether they’ve given their permission expressly or implicitly, face-to-face or via email.


Why permission matters



Asking someone’s permission to contact them isn’t just polite. It’s good business.


People check the name of a sender before they check the subject line. In fact, if they only check one, it’s far more likely to be the identity of the sender than the title.


Without permission, your open rates will remain low. Not only are you far less likely to make sales, you’re much more likely to be reported as spam. Even if you’re contacting someone who knows you, you’re still likely to annoy them if you haven’t obtained express permission to email them. As marketing guru Seth Godin puts it
“Just because you get my email doesn’t mean you get my permission.”

Permission marketing

The alternatives to using permission-based marketing are purchasing a contacts list or making use of another company’s database. Not only these methods ethically dubious (and poor business), you’re also far more likely to be reported as a spammer. In fact, research suggests you’re 10 times more likely to receive a ‘mark as spam’ complaint when contacting people you don’t know. In the UK spamming is a criminal offence, punishable with a fine of £5,000.


If enough users mark your emails as spam, email providers will start directing your emails directly to spam folders.

How to make Permission work for you



It’s important to be straightforward and open with clients. Users should understand that they are consenting to receive regular emails.

A good rule of thumb is to outline the rate at which you’ll be sending emails to clients and stick to it. Someone who consents to receive your monthly newsletter isn’t necessarily consenting to receive three special offers every day.


A permission reminder in every email - reminding subscribers that they chose to opt in to your mailings, is a good idea as well.


A study conducted by Experian found that clients would rather be contacted by email rather than any other media. Interestingly, the same study found that while irrelevant information may irritate users when sent via email, even relevant information irritates users when sent via SMS.

Segmentation, personalisation

Permission marketing

Let’s suppose you buy a database of 100,000 email addresses. What do you know about the people on that list? All you have are their names (perhaps) and their contact details. You have no idea where they live, how old they are, how much they earn - even whether they speak English or are real people. What you’ve bought doesn’t even qualify as data.
Taking time to build a customer database is one of the best things your business can do, allowing you to market your business more effectively.

How can my business build a permission-based database?



Make it as easy for your customers as possible. Feature a sign-up box on every page of your website and add a sign-up button to forum posts. If you’re working to boost your online presence, this function will work for itself, drawing new subscribers without effort on your part.


Offer discounts, free gifts and special offers to news subscribers. Advertise these promotions prominently on your website.


Make it worth your subscribers’ time to subscribe. Give them advance news of deals and reward them for remaining signed up to your newsletter.


Incentivise the ‘forward to a friend’ option. Let your subscribers build your database for you.




The exit's that way

It’s vital that clients are able to opt-out of your mailing list. If people continue to receive messages when they have requested not to, they may end up reporting your emails as spam. Pay attention to your stats. If users are opting out of your mailings in large numbers, you may be sending too many emails. The fact that you’ve made a point of seeking permission means that customers are (or at least, were) interested in learning more about your business – if people are unsubscribing you, you’re doing something wrong.



How to do permission emailing properly



Be open with those who opt in. Let new subscribers know what they’re signing up for, and let them know that they can leave if they want to.


Work hard on building your database, but remember: Quality beats quantity. Focus on building a list of quality contacts and finding ways to engage them. Concentrate on acquiring quality, usable data – not just on adding names to a list.

Permission-based email marketing is the most effective way to build lasting relationships with your client base. Get it right, and watch your click-rates soar and business boom. 
Building an email database requires a little resourcefulness and a lot of patience, but is worth it in the long run. Trust us: When it comes to building an email database, quality is much more important than quantity.



What is permission?

Permission is verifiable consent to contact subscribers via email. 
Marketing emails must abide by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR). According to the regulations, organisations can only send marketing emails to individuals if they have agreed to receive them, unless there is a clearly defined customer relationship.


Essentially, permission-based email marketing (also known as opt-in marketing) requires contacts to give you permission before adding them to an email database. To cover your back, it’s important to make any requests for permission as clear as possible, and not to tie them to other agreements.


Permission can be implied – (if you have conducted business with a particular client in the past, there’s nothing to stop you contacting them in future) or express – obtained via an online sign up form, or other explicit agreement.


CRM systems and tools allow you to integrate customer data into your contacts database, ensuring that you don’t have to manage two lists: one for those who have given permission explicitly and one for those whose permission is only implied.


From a subscriber’s perspective, asking for permission shows that a business respects their privacy. From a business’ perspective, permission guarantees that they’re only contacting those with an interest in their products or services.

It's okay to contact someone you met

Permission marketing

There’s nothing to stop you sending a follow-up email to somebody you met and are interested in doing business with.


The law is designed to stop organisations adding people to mailing lists without their consent. If, instead of following up a meeting with a polite email, you signed someone up for your weekly newsletter instead, you’d be flouting the regulations. Always seek express permission before signing somebody to your newsletter, no matter how interested they were in your business. It doesn’t matter how easy it is to opt out, don’t add someone to your mailing list unless they’ve asked.




What do I do once I’ve been given permission?

It’s important to notify clients that they have been confirmed as a subscriber - whether they’ve given their permission expressly or implicitly, face-to-face or via email.


Why permission matters



Asking someone’s permission to contact them isn’t just polite. It’s good business.


People check the name of a sender before they check the subject line. In fact, if they only check one, it’s far more likely to be the identity of the sender than the title.


Without permission, your open rates will remain low. Not only are you far less likely to make sales, you’re much more likely to be reported as spam. Even if you’re contacting someone who knows you, you’re still likely to annoy them if you haven’t obtained express permission to email them. As marketing guru Seth Godin puts it
“Just because you get my email doesn’t mean you get my permission.”

Permission marketing

The alternatives to using permission-based marketing are purchasing a contacts list or making use of another company’s database. Not only these methods ethically dubious (and poor business), you’re also far more likely to be reported as a spammer. In fact, research suggests you’re 10 times more likely to receive a ‘mark as spam’ complaint when contacting people you don’t know. In the UK spamming is a criminal offence, punishable with a fine of £5,000.


If enough users mark your emails as spam, email providers will start directing your emails directly to spam folders.

How to make Permission work for you



It’s important to be straightforward and open with clients. Users should understand that they are consenting to receive regular emails.

A good rule of thumb is to outline the rate at which you’ll be sending emails to clients and stick to it. Someone who consents to receive your monthly newsletter isn’t necessarily consenting to receive three special offers every day.


A permission reminder in every email - reminding subscribers that they chose to opt in to your mailings, is a good idea as well.


A study conducted by Experian found that clients would rather be contacted by email rather than any other media. Interestingly, the same study found that while irrelevant information may irritate users when sent via email, even relevant information irritates users when sent via SMS.

Segmentation, personalisation

Permission marketing

Let’s suppose you buy a database of 100,000 email addresses. What do you know about the people on that list? All you have are their names (perhaps) and their contact details. You have no idea where they live, how old they are, how much they earn - even whether they speak English or are real people. What you’ve bought doesn’t even qualify as data.
Taking time to build a customer database is one of the best things your business can do, allowing you to market your business more effectively.

How can my business build a permission-based database?



Make it as easy for your customers as possible. Feature a sign-up box on every page of your website and add a sign-up button to forum posts. If you’re working to boost your online presence, this function will work for itself, drawing new subscribers without effort on your part.


Offer discounts, free gifts and special offers to news subscribers. Advertise these promotions prominently on your website.


Make it worth your subscribers’ time to subscribe. Give them advance news of deals and reward them for remaining signed up to your newsletter.


Incentivise the ‘forward to a friend’ option. Let your subscribers build your database for you.




The exit's that way

It’s vital that clients are able to opt-out of your mailing list. If people continue to receive messages when they have requested not to, they may end up reporting your emails as spam. Pay attention to your stats. If users are opting out of your mailings in large numbers, you may be sending too many emails. The fact that you’ve made a point of seeking permission means that customers are (or at least, were) interested in learning more about your business – if people are unsubscribing you, you’re doing something wrong.



How to do permission emailing properly



Be open with those who opt in. Let new subscribers know what they’re signing up for, and let them know that they can leave if they want to.


Work hard on building your database, but remember: Quality beats quantity. Focus on building a list of quality contacts and finding ways to engage them. Concentrate on acquiring quality, usable data – not just on adding names to a list.

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Lilach Bullock
Professional Speaker, Lead Conversion Expert, Social Media Specialist & Occasional Diva. Proud mum
UK https://www.lilachbullock.com/