In the expression, “permission email marketing”, the key word is “permission”. In this case, the definition of the word permission means that the owner of the email address has granted the owner of the list rights to send email for a SPECIFIC PURPOSE only. We can’t say enough about the importance of respecting this “specific” purpose. When a person subscribes to your mailing list, you have to be very careful about holding up your end of the “deal”. This is an important part of building confidence with your readers, and developing stronger business relationships.

Nature of the mailing
The permission also specifies the nature of a mailing, e.g. newsletter, promotion, etc… If a person has granted permission to receive a professional newsletter, this doesn’t mean they’ve also agreed to receive offers for books…or Viagra!

Whenever possible, you should specify your intentions for the frequency of mailings during the subscription process. A person might be interested in a weekly newsletter, but feel overwhelmed by a daily one.

Permission is non-transferable: if permission to use an email address has been given to company X, this address can’t be transferred (and neither given, nor sold) to company Y.

In the same context, if a subscriber has given its permission to department X, brand Y, or division Z, this list should not be shared with other departments, brands or divisions of the same company.

Retreat of permission
The owner of the email address should be allowed the right to remove permission whenever they need to. It is the responsibility of the owner of the list to offer members simple ways to cease receiving emails if need be, and remove their addresses from distribution lists. It is also important for list owners to promptly react to these requests for removal.

Permissions types
We can also classify email lists in regards to the different levels of permission they’ve been granted:

a) No permission
If you have no permission, you are not authorized in any way to send emails to the people on the list. If you use a list without permission, you are automatically identified as a spammer. Here are several examples of non-permissible lists:

  • A bought list: since permission is non-transferable, every bought list is a list without valid permission, despite the fact that its original builders obtained permission for their own usage;
  • A list of Internet email addresses: even though an address is considered public information once on the web, this doesn’t mean the owner has authorized anyone to add it to their distribution list(s);
  • A list with permission for a specific purpose used for other purposes is considered non-permissible;
  • A client list: just because you sold something online, you’re not automatically authorized to send the client promotional emails if you haven’t asked their specific permission to do so. This permission can be obtained if the client checks an appropriate box when filling in the order or when receiving information about it.

b) Opt-in
This is a specific active request from an email owner to be part of a specific email list possessed by a unique owner. The person has to voluntarily provide their email address, specifically authorizing only the list owner to use it.

Note: a default checked box in a form is no longer accepted as appropriate practice. The email owner has to actively check the box or enter his address in the form, in order for it to be considered valid.

c) Double opt-in: go for it!
A double (confirmed) opt-in is where the list owner has requested an email confirmation from the email owner to opt in. Usually, the email owner has to reply to an automatic email in which the intention to subscribe to the list is confirmed. This practice is the safest and most recommended method of confirming permission for both parties. It assures the validity of the identity of the person requesting to be part of the list, and avoids the possibility of another person using their email address without permission.

The double opt-in also boasts the highest level of industry recommendation for obtaining permission. It’s your best choice to build the cleanest list, and the most serious relationship with your clients.

Author Francois Lane

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