There's a great post over at Blue Sky Factory addressing the fact that unlike the controversial behavioral targeting feature which Google has implemented, as email marketers we are in a wonderful position to use behavioral tracking - as we have permission from our subscribers.
As Nikki says :'Email marketing is one of the best online marketing mediums to offer
permission-based behavioral tracking for online users. Bottom line: it offers
marketers a way of establishing relationships, cross-pollinating social media
networks and RSS feeds, and it builds your client base organically. Email
marketing enables marketers to deliver campaigns specific to the interests and
behaviors of their recipients, while giving measurable results to easily track
In this article, Morgan Stewart shares some tips on how to use re-opt-in campaigns to verify email permission and reengage unengaged subscribers on your list.
Unengaged subscribers result in lower response rates and wasted marketing dollars. Re-opt-in campaigns are useful for cleaning old or unengaged subscribers off your list by confirming which subscribers want to continue receiving marketing emails. This results in a healthier list and increased return on investment.
Based on his experience with these kind of campaigns he lists 4 best practices:
Be clear in the subject line. These campaigns tend to be targeting subscribers who have not responded in a while, so breaking the mold with concise, straightforward, or even provocative subject lines help get people to open the email.
Restate your value proposition. A concise restatement of what your subscribers can expect reminds them of what you are all about — and what they will miss if they do not confirm their email subscription.
Use "yes" AND "no" options. By including that NO option, you will actually get more people to click YES.
Send a second request. In Morgan's experience second requests to non-responders consistently get nearly the same number of opt-ins as the first, so failing to do so could have a material impact on the success of your campaign.
There are essentially five levels of permission you need to consider when designing your email programs. Each has their pros and cons and its usage depends on the type of program you are developing and the subscriber experience you want to provide. When trying to decide which one to implement, it might be helpful to assess the amount of risk that is associated with your opt-in program and take into account the relationship you want to build with your subscriber.
1. Opt-out You obtain an email address for a subscriber (it doesn't matter how) and begin emailing that person. In order to get off of the list, the subscriber must email or click to opt-out of future mailings. While you may end up with a lot of subscribers on your list, opt-out mailing is the lowest form of permission and is too close to spam to be advisable.
2. Negative Opt-in You offer subscribers an email subscription form - usually as part of an order form - with a check box that has already been selected for an agreement to receive emails. This person must uncheck the box in order not to receive emails from your company. Again, while you may rapidly build your email file, you could also end up with a lot of angry customers who did not realize that they had agreed to receive your emails. As a result, your mailings may be received as spam.
3. Opt-in A subscriber must proactively select a box in order to receive your email communications. Opt-in is the most common form of subscription because it is voluntary on the part of the subscriber and keeps things simple.
4. Confirmed Opt-in A subscriber opts in for your emails and then receives an email message confirming their subscription and offers them the option to immediately unsubscribe if the subscription was a mistake in any way. This level of permission increases the value of your list, and on some level, protects you against charges of spamming. Moreover, you can use this first email to establish a connection with your new subscriber and showcase the value that they will continue to receive from your mailings.
5. Double-Opt-in A subscriber opts in to your email list and then receives an email message from you that requires them to reply to your email in order to be added to the list. This is the gold standard for permission because consumers must essentially subscribe to your list twice indicating that they really want to receive your emails. However, some subscribers may not realize that they need respond to the confirmation email causing you to lose them after the initial opt-in.
In response to Stephanie Miller's article below, Matt Blumberg continues the conversation and questions whether permission is as relevant as it once was in terms of how ISPs, filters, and blacklists determine whether or not to block mail. This is what he says:
"The argument against permission as a relevant filtering criteria is more nuanced:
1. It doesn't matter if something is opt-out quadruple opt-in. Users think of spam as "email I don't want," not "email I didn't sign up for." As Stephanie says, bad email I signed up for is even worse than unsolicited email in some ways. And look at the other side of the argument as well: would you really mind getting an unsolicited/unpermissioned email if the content or offer was highly relevant to you, e.g., you seriously consider clicking through on it?
2. Permission can be easily faked or loopholed. Companies can operate multiple web sites and email lists and gather addresses from multiple sources and then point to the one "proper permission site" and claim that's the origin of all the names on its list. And companies can set up privacy policies in such a way that they can automatically opt users into multiple lists without the user's permission unless the user reads the fine print.
Most people talk about different things with different people. With one friend the conversation might usually focus on relationships. With another, perhaps talk turns more naturally to movies, books, sports or politics.
You would be unlikely to appeal to your relationship-discussing friend if you were to engage in a monologue about your opinion of our current political leaders. However, if you started in with that same screed to your politics-loving friend, he or she would greet it with a smile that says “Let the games begin!“
The same theory applies to communicating with your customers and prospects. “One of the most important things to keep in mind when developing your campaign is relevance, says Yael Penn, Principal of Imagine Creative Marketing. “If you send a message recipients are interested in receiving, you will get their attention and your campaign will be a success. However, if your message is not relevant to their interests or current needs, they will most likely ignore it, or even worse, unsubscribe from your database and you’ll never be able to communicate with them again!”
There are four main elements of a successful permission-based email campaign:
Implied opt-in is a strategy is based on the assumption that since people have given you their email addresses, you have permission to send them at least one email. And if you say in it that you would like to follow up that email with further marketing communications of a specific kind unless they objected, then you have obtained their permission to continue.
Some consider this to be a gray area of permission marketing, and others will consider it to be a useful tool to be used in certain situations.
If used carefully, B2B marketers can find it an effective way to legitimately increase their email files. However, check first if your country's legislation allows this practice.
Read an interesting article about implied opt-in written by Page Duffy, principal consultant with JPD Associates.