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The Power of Permission – E-mail Marketing is Not Dead!

July 19, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Evanne Schmarder

Do you see any value in being able to deliver a specific message to a targeted audience that is interested in your product or service and has asked to hear your call to action and data-rich statistics?

Me, too.

The fact of the matter is that e-mail marketing has become one of the most affordable, effective and targeted promotional tools available to small businesses today. Even with the rise in social media marketing – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, – e-mail marketing might be considered the glue that binds them all together.

E-mail marketing brings in as much as $42 in ROI for every dollar spent; close to 80% of e-mails are delivered and that number is expected to grow over the next few years. And a recent large-scale survey finds that 60% of respondents claim that at least half of the e-mail programs in which they participate are of value to them.

But there’s a huge caveat to these statements and stats. In order to reap the benefits of e-mail marketing, you must — must — gain permission to send your missive to your customers and prospects. This is called “permission marketing” and requires a permission-based list.

Permission-based lists are an absolute requirement when using e-mail as a marketing technique. This means that you only send messages to recipients who have asked, agreed or subscribed to receive e-mail communications from you and/or your business. This includes two groups: actual opt-in subscribers to your e-mail list and those with whom you have an existing business relationship who want to hear from you.

It can’t be stressed strongly enough: permission is a requirement for legitimate and profitable e-mail marketing. If you are not marketing to a permission-based list, then you are sending bulk unsolicited e-mail – AKA spam – which puts your e-mail marketing reputation at risk. Receivers may hit the spam button, and this unacceptable practice could get your e-mail and IP address blacklisted, meaning that e-mail providers may block all e-mails you send from your e-mail address, company name, domain and/or IP address.

Spam if you will but essentially all the time, effort and money you put into crafting your message simply won’t deliver ROI.

The CAN-SPAM Act Spells Out Today’s Specific Rules

In the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act, the U.S. government declared that sending spam was legal as long as certain criteria were followed, including:

  • Header information cannot be false or misleading.
  • The message cannot contain deceptive subject lines.
  • The message must come from a functioning return e-mail address.
  • The e-mail recipient must be given an option to opt-out of receiving future messages and be removed from the list in no more than 10 days.
  • The message must be identified as an advertisement and include a valid postal address for the sender.
  • You may not “procure” the forwarding of your campaigns by offering any kind of incentive (e.g. coupons, discounts, T-shirts, etc.) to your recipients.

CAN-SPAM Act violation penalties are steep. Each separate e-mail in violation of the law is subject to penalties of up to $16,000 and more than one person may be held responsible for violations. For example, both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that originated the message may be legally responsible. Note that “each separate e-mail” means exactly that. If you send a violating e-mail to 1,000 e-mail addresses, each counts as a “separate e-mail.”

If you want to send unsolicited e-mails you will be hard-pressed to find a reputable E-mail Service Provider to help you do so. They, too, want to protect their deliverability. That’s their stock-in-trade.

Learn more about this law by visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s website at http:/www./bit.ly/dNrJek.

Using an E-mail Service Provider to Grow and Manage Your List

Professional e-mail marketers know that using a reputable E-mail Service Provider (ESP) is an indispensable e-mail marketing tool to streamline growing and maintaining your list and help you stay in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act.

It’s important to note that e-mail lists have a 12-18 month lifespan. ESPs will assist you in “cleaning” your list – another way of saying keeping it free of e-mail addresses that are no longer valid. That includes managing hard bounces (e-mail addresses that are no longer valid) and “unsubscribes” as well as assisting you in growing your list in a number of ways.’

* Through an ESP you can create a subscriber link to post on your website. I recommend posting it both above and below the fold on all pages.

* You should post your subscribe link on your social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and your blog.

* Take advantage of auto-responders that welcome new subscribers (opt-ins), communicate between e-mail communications and send a farewell confirmation to unsubscribers (opt-outs).

Drill down on reporting stats including opens and click-throughs to learn who your most engaged readers are. Hint: they are the most likely leads to convert. You’ll eventually use this information to segment your lists once you have a track record of reliable data.

In summary, the old adage that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission does not apply to e-mail marketing. Build your e-mail list by asking your customers and prospects for permission to communicate with them. Doing so makes it much more likely that they will be receptive to your message and much less likely that you will gain a reputation as a spammer… persona no gratis in their inbox.

Your permission-based “house list” is an extremely valuable asset – yes, a business asset with monetary value – to help you stay top of mind, deliver value, solidify connections, and market smart. E-mail marketing is far from dead; use it and grow your business.

Evanne Schmarder is the creator of the RV industry’s first Digital Marketing Workshop – www.DigitalMarketingWorkshop.info. She’s also the owner of Roadabode Productions, outdoor hospitality communication consultants specializing in social media consultation, seminar facilitation and educational presentations, SEO copywriting, business writing services, newsletter production, and public relations. She’s also the producer and host of the RV Cooking Show. Contact her at evanne@roadabode.com or (702) 460-9863 or visit her online at her B2B site- www.Roadabode.com or her B2C site – www.RVCookingShow.com.

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