When a door-to-door salesperson shows up, you act like you’re not home. If a telemarketer is calling, you don’t answer. These kinds of salespeople are accustomed to rejection. They know most people don’t want what they’re selling. For the most part, this form of interruption selling has gone by the wayside.
Then enter email marketing. You can now annoy people without having to feel the sting of rejection. If you only have a 5% open rate and .03 conversion rate, it’s okay. You’ll just send email to more people in hopes of better results.
You know this isn’t the way to get new customers.
Permission based email marketing is different. When done right, it doesn’t annoy people. It doesn’t try to sell to complete strangers.
According to Salesforce, 77% of people prefer it. Conversion rates are higher because people actually want what you’re selling.
Let’s explore how permission based email marketing works and how to do it right.
What Is Permission Based Email Marketing?
Permission based email marketing is what it sounds like.
You only send email to someone who has given consent to receive your communications. They actually took an action that they knew was opting into receiving emails from you.
Why would someone agree to be marketed to by me? You might be asking this question. It’s because you’ve communicated that there is a clear value for them in signing up.
This value could be:
- A free report
- A free trial
- An exclusive discount
- Video access
- Seminar signup
- Ongoing offers and helpful content
By this token, a person signing up engages in an exchange of value. You receive the value of their email. You have permission to send them stuff. As long as you continue to send them good stuff, they stay signed up.
On their side of the value exchange, they received something they wanted. They can continue to receive more of what they want if they stay opted-in.
What Permission Based Email Marketing Isn’t
You may be thinking that all email is permission based. Only rarely do you actually receive emails from people when you didn’t opt in. The fact is that you may not realize that you do get email that wasn’t permission based. It comes in many forms. And, if you have a good spam filter, you may not even see it.
This form of email may be the result of:
- Someone buying a “lead” list from a company. In most cases, these aren’t leads. Someone just skimmed emails off websites
- Someone selling your contact info. You signed up for a certain list. They unscrupulously sold your email to other similar companies. Sadly, charities are notorious for this.
- Someone finding your email on social media or your website and cold emailing you (most common in B2B)
In each of these cases, you probably don’t want that email. If you’re using these methods to build your own list, you’re not getting the ROI on email that you could be. When people proclaim the benefits of email marketing, they are not talking about email that uses these methods to build a subscriber list.
What Are the Benefits of Permission Based Email Marketing?
Let’s look at just some of the benefits.
It Creates Less Spam Risk
First of all, it’s not considered spam. People don’t instantly reject it as such. It doesn’t give them that icky feeling of being solicited. It’s less likely to get swept off into the spam folder.
Because of this, they’re more likely to stay subscribed and buy. They won’t mark you as spam, which ends your chances of nurturing that recipient into a customer.
On top of that, you avoid the risk of getting reported to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission). This could result in fines of over $41,000 per email.
It Has an Unbelievable ROI
Permission based email has an average ROI of $38-$44 for every $1 spent. You don’t get this kind of ROI on any other marketing method. People actually open your emails. The average non-permission open rate is less than 5%.
The average permission based email marketing open rate is just under 20%. This may not sound like a high percentage, but it’s actually really good when you consider how many emails a day a person receives, yet they choose to open yours. Not only this. People are more likely to click. More likely to buy. More likely to buy more. All of this contributes to the unbelievable ROI.
It Strengthens Brands
It strengthens brand awareness rather than destroying it.
Imagine, someone is sending you unsolicited email and they won’t stop. How do you feel about this brand? You grow to hate them.
Compare this to a permission based system. You signed up to stay informed about new releases and get exclusive promotions. You like being in the know. You have good feelings about this brand.
It’s Relevant to Customers
It leverages increased relevance to maximize email marketing revenues. Unlike some other marketing methods, with email, you have tremendous control.
Use analytics to learn more about your recipients. Group recipients together based on similar traits, interests or behaviors. Send each group more relevant content.
This is called email segmentation. It can increase revenues 760%. We’ll discuss it more in the do’s and don’ts of permission based email marketing a little later.
The Do’s & Don’t’s of Permission Marketing Success
To better understand what successful permission based email marketing is, let’s explore the right and the wrong ways to do it.
1. Do Define What a Quality Subscriber Is
As a general rule the subscriber you want:
- Is your target customer
- They want what you sell, even if they’ve not yet made a purchase
- Opens your emails some of the time
- Converts quickly
- Keeps buying
- Shares your emails with others
- Clicks on links in your emails
To build a permission based email marketing list that’s worth the investment, know who you want to attract. This will determine what methods you use to build your list.
2. Do Focus on Quality Subscribers over Quantity
You do want to see your subscriber list grow. When you run lead generation campaigns, growing this list will be a primary objective. But be careful not to grow the list only to end up with a bloated list that ends up draining resources and skewing data.
Increase revenues while cutting marketing costs by focusing on quality.
It takes time and money to nurture email subscribers into customers. And don’t ever fall into the trap of buying leads. Most, if not all, people in this lead list had their data stolen and sold in the gray/black market. There’s a good chance that even if you send them emails, they won’t even bother opening those as you don’t have their permission to contact them. Or worse, if they are residing in Europe, you will be breaking the GDPR law. A bloated list leads to wasted time and effort trying to nurture people who will never become customers.
Use analytics to determine what happens after a person becomes a subscriber. If engagement rates are low, you’re not attracting the best subscribers.
When developing strategies, build them around attracting the people you’ve identified will make quality email subscribers.
3. Do Remarket to Unsubscribers
We’re not suggesting that you continue to send emails after they unsubscribe. And we’re also not saying that you cling to someone who’s trying to get away. That would contradict the last section. But a small effort to keep your subscribers may just work. Netflix does a tasteful job of trying to get you back as a member.
They send one email when you cancel.
Then another email shortly after if you did not restart your membership.
After that, no more emails.
And then sometimes people who unsubscribe simply want to see less of you. They’re not trying to completely cut ties. They may still follow you on social media, for example.
You can remarket to unsubscribers in a mutually beneficial way in an effort to win their business.
4. Give Them Options
If they’d to still receive a certain type of email from you, allow them to check boxes for emails they’d like to receive. Sometimes it’s just a particular type of email that triggered the unsubscribe.
It could be the frequency. Give them a choice to receive fewer emails.
If you find that it’s not beneficial to your business to try to keep these subscribers, at least try to get some feedback through your unsubscribe page.
5. Retarget on Social Media
Collect your list of recent unsubscribers. Create a social media ad that specifically targets these unsubscribers with an exclusive offer.
6. Create a Lookalike Audience
Just because someone unsubscribed doesn’t mean they weren’t your target. You can provide their information to Facebook to market to similar people who are not that subscriber.
7. Create an Exclude List
Some unsubscribers just aren’t a good match. Live and learn. Based on the analytical data that you’ve gathered on that contact, you can choose to exclude people from receiving social media ads if their profile looks like the unsubscribers.
Note, if you’re marketing in countries that are part of the European Union, you need to follow the new GDPR rules that went into effect in May 2018. These impact what you are required to do after someone unsubscribes and how you must inform unsubscribers.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Let Subscribers Go
Don’t hide the unsubscribe button. Don’t make people take several steps to unsubscribe. You end up with people who think they unsubscribed so they mark future emails as spam. It causes frustration and hurts your credibility.
This leads toward bad sentiments for your brand that may translate to bad reviews, bad social media mentions and so on.
On top of this, having people on your list who don’t really want to be there, skews your numbers. They might open the emails sometimes. It gives you false signals that the person is somewhat engaged. But nothing comes out of it.
You’re much better off getting these people off the rolls.
9. Do Establish a Straightforward Funnel To Get More Subscribers
People don’t sign up to be marketed to through permission based email marketing because they have nothing better to do. You have a lot of competition out there. Your industry and direct competitors are only a tiny portion. Your real competition is the perception of limited time.
Demonstrate the value in signing up. It’s worth their time to sign up.
Do this by setting up simple yet effective way to capture emails and the permission it represents.
A funnel starts where the people are. This is usually social media. It might also be search results if you have good visibility in search engines. Think of this spot as the wide end of a funnel.
While this side of the funnel gets a lot of traffic, it’s not the ideal place to learn about people on a more individual level so that you can connect with them on a more meaningful level. The traffic here has too many goals, interests and needs. You can’t please everyone.
Instead, use targeted content to skim your target market out of the billions on social media. This content may be a social media ad. It may be something you share. Its purpose is to attract the right person into the center of the funnel where you have a little more control.
Once in the funnel provide a direct exchange of value.
In this example, this marketing software company enticed its target audience to sign up for a webinar were they’ll get the following value. They kept it very simple.
When they click to register, they’re taken to a landing page. It tells them more about the webinar and asks for contact information.
The person signing up gets value in the form of a webinar. You can now communicate with them on a permission based email marketing basis. Continue to inform them about similar webinars and content they’ll like.
They’ll stay subscribers.
10. Do Offer Something Uniquely Valuable to Your Target
Do you want to know how to get more quality subscribers? Be very careful about what you offer people in exchange for their email. In the above example, a webinar on this topic attracts a very specific audience. That’s marketers, and some entrepreneurs, who want to know how to more effectively use data and automation to increase engagement.
On the other hand, almost anyone would like a chance to win an iPhone. That includes your target audience. It also includes a lot of people who aren’t. Offering people a chance to win something like an iPhone will bloat your subscriber list with people who aren’t potential customers.
So what will your target audience find uniquely valuable? It may be:
- A detailed report they can’t get anywhere else
- A quality how to video that solves a unique challenge
- An eBook uniquely interesting or helpful to your target
- Free add-on service or discount on first order
- A joke a day geared toward your audience
What you choose, depends on your target audience. Review those customer personas. Obtain permission by adding value to their lives.
11. Don’t Just Offer Them a Newsletter
This is nothing against newsletters. Email newsletters are a great way to provide relevant content to subscribers. But unless you’re a brand that a lot of people trust like CNN or Newsweek, a newsletter is often not enough to get them to sign up initially.
In most cases, you’re building your email list so that you can build up your brand with that person.
Entice them with something of clear value now. Then show them how great your newsletter is by delivering valuable, relevant content.
12. Do Learn From Your Mistakes
Don’t keep getting more low quality subscribers by ignoring what the data is telling you. And don’t keep losing quality subscribers because they don’t like your idea of permission based email marketing.
The data is talking. If you’re listening, you’ll learn how to:
- Create more relevant content
- Send content at better times
- Get the frequency right for various targets
- Attract more quality subscribers
- Increase engagement among your subscribers
- Increase revenues
Make the most of these opportunities by listening to what the data is telling you.
13. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Social Proof
Social proof is the idea that if people like you like something, then it must be good. Social proof comes in many forms like:
- Follower/Like Counters
- Mentions from others
- Shares/Likes on your posts
- Comments on your blog
- Logos of known brands you’ve had as clients
Social proof is about letting others tell people that you’re qualified. Showcasing it to get more subscribers takes a strategic effort. Find ways to incorporate social proof into your email strategies.
14. Don’t Have Inconsistent Branding
64% of recipients choose to open an email solely based on who it’s from. That’s yet one more data-driven reason that branding is so important.
Your brand builds equity and trust over time. A consistent brand helps you build this trust faster. When someone receives and email that is poorly branded, they may not even realize that it’s from your brand.
A poorly branded email not only doesn’t help build trust. It can lead to unsubscriptions. They think they didn’t sign up for your list. They unsubscribe without realizing that this email was sent by the same brand that sends them content they really like.
That’s a sad way to see a person go.
Create a written brand guide. Follow it when sending email communications. Don’t be mistaken for a no-name spammer.
Your branding guide includes:
- Font sizes and styles
- Image types
- Color schemes
- How to Relate
- And more
Depending on the type of email, all may not apply in each instance. That’s why it’s so important to have multiple visual cues that help people instantly recognize your brand.
15. Do Create Highly Relevant Content
Permission based email marketing is only as effective as your content is relevant. Not only do you provide instant value to subscribers when they sign up. You provide them with relevant content so they stay signed up.
The important thing to remember here is that that you don’t have a captive audience with permission based email marketing. They can leave at any time. You respect that fact.
It can take just one irrelevant piece of content to cause an unsubscribe request.
The most relevant content is achieved through the process of segmentation. That’s dividing your subscribers into groups based upon traits, goals, challenges, behaviors or interests they share. Then send content that is customized for each segment. It’s not possible to be highly relevant if you are trying to speak to all of your customers in one blast email.
According to the Digital Marketing Association, businesses that use segmentation average achieve a 760% higher revenue than those sending blast emails.
Analytical tools help you determine which subscriber goes into which group. Segmentation tools help you automatically divide up your subscriber list to maximize relevance. Automation tools eliminate a lot of monotonous and time-consuming steps required to customize and deliver content for each segment.
Without having these tools and the related processes in place, it’s hard to increase revenues enough to off-set the time and money investment. That’s just one more reason working with a digital marketing company helps you get the best ROI.
Delight your customer and grow at the same time with segmentation.
16. Do Automate As Much a Possible
The more you automate, the more time, money and frustration you save. There are millions of little tasks to do in permission based email marketing. Get a program to do them for you.
Automated emails have a 70% higher open rate than non-automated.
Automation makes sure you always send the right message at the right time. Check out this chart from the credit bureau Experian. They found that the average time that businesses send email is between 8pm and 12am. That makes complete sense for business owners. This is when you’re done with your “regular” work and focused on sending out emails.
Yet email recipients are most likely to open email between 8am and 12pm. This shows a huge disconnect between businesses and customers.
Wow. It’s time to change when you send emails. Not so fast!
We’re looking at a broad sector in the above chart. Let’s say your customers are different. Maybe because of the industry they’re in or their work hours. They may have higher open rates at a different time. And what about time zones?
With automation, send emails to recipients at the times when they’re most likely to open emails
We won’t even begin to describe the time it would take to try to do this manually for each subscriber.
That’s just one way that automation helps you increase revenues. Now, let’s look at another important kind of automation, event-triggered automation.
This allows you to have a pre-fabricated response that goes out to a person when a certain event takes place. This event could be a sign-up for your email list.
It could be a purchase. It may be a complaint or question. In these cases, the immediate response matters. Send someone an email to remind them to finish watching a promotional video.
You couldn’t do that without automation.
One kind of event-triggered email is the transactional email. This is a confirmation of purchase in most cases. But when done right, it can be so much more.
Transactional emails earn 8X the opens and clicks of any other email. They have a 152% higher click through rate than a regular promotional email.
Use automation to show a person other items they may like based on their purchase. Use this prime real estate to upsell or get them to buy something else. Most importantly show them that you value them by thanking them for their purchase.
Not using automation and segmentation? Why not? 75% of email’s revenue generation power can be attributed to these important methods.
17. Don’t Overlook the Importance of Word-of-Mouth
One of the strengths of permission based email marketing is that you can get people excited about what you’re going to send to their inbox. This promotes an environment where they too want to share your emails and brand with others.
Don’t underestimate how important this free promotion is to growing your list and brand. Make it easy for people to share your email. Include social media icons. Incentivize sharing.
Most importantly, send content that people want to share with their friends and colleagues. You create this kind of content by really knowing your customers.
Permission Based Email Marketing Works
Permission marketing is the way to connect with customers in a way that they prefer. It lets them feel in control of the situation. Keep sending them highly relevant content to keep that subscriber on your list. Use automation to always reach them at the right time.
Maximize your marketing budget with permission based email marketing. Are you looking to grow your business? We can help with no-nonsense digital marketing strategies that work. Let’s talk about your business and goals. Contact us today!