E-Mail Marketing Myth #2: Permission Is a Free Pass to the Inbox

Apr 02, 2006 8:36 AM  By

Over the years there has been much discussion about defining various permission levels (opt-in, confirmed opt-in, double opt-in) as a means of promoting industry best practices and in order to further distinguish legitimate communications from spam. In fact, I can clearly remember the firestorm that took place almost three years ago now at the DMA (AIM at the time) over the lack of a definition of “spam” in the industry’s first-ever delivery best practices document.

Looking back as Chair of the DMA’s Council for Responsible Email (CRE), I am proud of our decision, given the document’s focus and the foresight and vision we had in understanding the consumer’s perspective along with the recognition that we do indeed operate in a continuously evolving email delivery landscape.

As we have seen day in, and day out, in observing countless email communications from legitimate marketers – increasingly “spam” is in the eye of the beholder, and, in fact, is uniquely defined by each consumer. While how a marketer acquires permission is often a critical factor in one’s deliverability success or failure – in an age where consumers are not only demanding control, but are also aggressively taking it – permission in and of itself, including “double opt-in” and otherwise, is not a free pass into the inbox.

Keep in mind that consumers who have granted permission can and do click the “report spam” button, and time and again relevance, or the lack of it, is a key cause. For marketers the lesson is clear: We have entered a new era in marketing – the era of consumer control. Never before has the ability to leverage data been so critical in building relevant customer communications. While important, permission alone is no longer enough. We must make further progress toward evolving our email communications around our customers’ needs and interests. That means going beyond permission best practices by setting appropriate expectations and building a commitment within our organizations to relevance, which will ultimately assure our ongoing success and deliverability.

The good news is that progress is being made. According to the recent Epsilon Interactive and GfK NOP World study, more than half of respondents (58%) agreed that email they receive is usually targeted to their needs and interests, up from 53% a year ago. In addition more than 60% agreed that the email communications they receive from companies they do business with are more targeted/relevant that the communications they received from those same companies last year (up from 57% a year ago). Let’s keep up the progress moving towards crafting email communications that that are not only anticipated, but wanted and responded to because they meet and exceed our customers’ expectations.

Epsilon Interactive CMO Michael Della Penna outlines the four myths of e-mail marketing in a series for MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT.