There are numerous reasons to own and use your own mail list. They include some of the same reasons that make it imperative to join someone else’s list. Running a permission-based private mailing list can be beneficial in many ways, including:
- Gets you in front of your current and potential customers on a regular basis
- Conserves contacts—particularly your social media contacts, if you do this right, so that when the next big thing comes along and all your friends, followers, or fans move on, you still have a way to stay in contact
- Builds repeat traffic to your Web site
- Promotion of your products, services, and events
- First-of-mind marketing
- Potential source of revenue.
Permission and privacy are critical to the success of any email marketing campaign. Although unsolicited direct “snail mail” might be generally accepted or at least tolerated by many consumers, the rules are completely different online.
Unsolicited email (known as spam) runs the risk of damaging your company’s reputation, not to mention the very real possibilities of flames, public blacklisting, hack attacks, or having your Internet services revoked. For serious spammers, recent legislation adds heavy fines and the possibility of prison.
Online consumers are quick to let you know when you have crossed the line, and unsolicited email definitely crosses the line. Because of this, online marketers are using many techniques to get their customers, potential customers, and Web
site visitors to give them “permission” to send email on a regular basis.
Permission marketing is really a win-win situation. Recipients receive information that they asked to receive, and the marketer is communicating with an audience that has expressed interest in what is being marketed. Online marketers claim that permission email marketing is one of the best ways to improve customer retention and boost sales.
So how do you get this coveted permission? Generally you have to provide something of value and of interest to your target market. There are many opportunities on your Web site to ask for permission. Make sure you take advantage of them. Make sure your permission marketing is above the fold and grabs the readers’ attention.
The more repeat-traffic generators on your site, the more opportunities you can provide for visitors to give you their permission. You should leverage repeat-traffic generators with permission marketing that “sells the sizzle” and accelerates responses with a call to action. Here are some typical examples:
- “We change our coupons every week! Join our e-club to be notified as soon as we update.”
- “Join our e-club and receive our biweekly newsletter filled with industry news, updates, and special offers.”
- “We have new specials on a regular basis. Join our e-club to be notified by email when we post our new specials.”
- “We have a new contest every three weeks. Keep checking back or join our e-club if you’d like to be notified by email every time we begin a new contest.”
- “We constantly update our calendar of events. Keep checking back or join our e-club if you’d like to be notified by email every time we update.”
- “Join our e-club to receive our e-specials, coupons, our great newsletter, and other great offers available only to our e-club members!”
You get the picture. Almost every page on your Web site provides an opportunity for you to offer permission marketing. Of course, when site visitors click, they are taken to a screen where they add themselves to your email list. It is important not to ask for too much too soon. If your visitors have to fill out a lengthy form to be added to your mailing list, they probably won’t.
The two most important things to ask for are the email address and the visitor’s first name. You want their first name so that you can personalize any correspondence with them.
If you have more than one permission-based offer, your mail list program should keep track of the element the visitor has given you permission to send. If someone signed up to receive your newsletter, you cannot send them information on your newest product packages unless you have gotten umbrella permission with an e-club.
The best thing to do is to get umbrella permission. When you get umbrella permission you can send out all of your permission-based marketing materials to all the people who signed up. One way of getting umbrella permission is to offer an e-club. When someone signs up for your e-club, tell them that they will receive advance notice of product specials and promotions, company information, and updates of events. Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream, pictured in Figure 12.1, for example, invites its Web site visitors to join its e-club.
Your mail list software should be integrated with the Web site so when someone gives you permission, his or her name is automatically added to your database.
Permission marketing enjoys its success because it is personal, relevant, and anticipated. Your messages should be personalized, enhancing the one-toone relationship marketing element.