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By: Jake Hoiby, Sr. Manager - Email Deliverability
The #1 Factor for Inbox Placement
Inbox placement is instrumental to email marketing effectiveness, so it makes sense to manage the influencing factors. Inbox placement is largely determined by your sender reputation, and whether or not the recipient server correlates your past email behavior with unwanted email. Obtaining explicit permission before sending email is the most important method for maintaining a good reputation because it ensures that recipients want to receive your email and greatly increases the likelihood that they will engage with it. It also helps to prevent the major causes of spam complaints, hard bounces and sending to spam traps, all of which can cause your email to be identified as unwanted and sent to junk, or worse, blocked entirely.
Getting permission to show an advertisement is not even a consideration for other marketing channels like TV or print media, but with email (and SMS) it’s inherently part of the system, and there are real consequences if you ignore it. This practice is so fundamental to email deliverability and inbox placement that it is required by reputable email service providers and has become part of the current trend of anti-spam laws. Even if you think you already have permission to send marketing email, you might be surprised about what your subscribers have to say.
Permission is in the Eye of the Subscriber
Permission is an agreement between you and your subscriber to send them email from your business with particular content and at a particular frequency. Since your subscriber solely determines whether or not your email is wanted and expected (and consequently whether they’ll report it as spam, delete it, ignore it, or read it), the subscription agreement is not valid if they don’t understand the terms, or if the terms are not clearly defined. At the end of the day, what the subscriber thinks is all that matters. For explicit permission to be valid from your subscribers perspective, it should have these qualities:
Many common sources of email addresses don’t qualify as explicit permission because they fundamentally can’t meet the above criteria:
8 Steps for Obtaining Explicit Permission
Obtaining permission via a web form has additional benefits over offline collection: it provides an electronic record to help you maintain proper segmentation and protect yourself against potential legal issues, and with marketing automation you can deliver the confirmation email immediately. Once your form is setup, don’t forget to drive traffic to it. If you’re already sending out transactional email to your customers like order receipts, it’s OK to add a link and encourage recipients to subscribe to your newsletter or regular marketing. Just don’t send email without permission asking them to provide permission - that is definitively spam.
There’s a Person Behind the Address
The end goal of explicit permission is to make sure your email is wanted and expected by the recipient. Remember that email is not a one-way street - you’re fostering relationships with your recipients and it’s important that they desire and value the content you provide. Implementing industry standard best practices like obtaining explicit permission when generating leads is a surefire way to avoid reputation problems that can ruin your inbox placement and marketing effectiveness. As a not-so-minor side effect, you’ll also build some trust with your future customers.