Best Practices for Creating Opt-in E-mail Lists

The continuing effectiveness of e-mail as a marketing tool depends on the establishment of true permission-based e-mail lists, says Jay Schwedelson, corporate vice president for Boca Raton, FL-based list services provider Worldata. To that end, he offers the following suggestions:

• Ask customers and prospects for permission to share their e-mail data with other vendors. This should be a simple, clear, and concise message that states exactly how you intend to use the information. A template that’s popular with many permission-based e-mail lists: “From time to time, we will share information with companies that offer products and services you may find of interest. Click here if you would like to participate in this program.”

• When asking permission of visitors, do not precheck the “yes” option. Allow visitors to make their own decision and physically click a box to give you permission to use their information.

• Don’t be afraid to ask twice. That’s double permission, which benefits the approved list renter by providing a more qualified and responsive list. It also benefits the list owner, who will enjoy added revenue from the continuation usages.

• Be aware that just because someone submitted his name and postal address (whether it’s via the Web, a subscription, a transaction, or a registration card) does not necessarily give you permission to match and overlay his e-mail address. “The bottom line is that while these individuals have given their mailing address, they did not provide their e-mail address,” Schwedelson says. “They did not provide you with permission, either direct or implied, to perform a match and append their e-mail address.”

According to Schwedelson, “While we as marketers, will license data from external sources to append items such as age, income, or SIC code, the ultimate purpose of such overlays is to improve the targeting so that the recipients receive offers that will be more in line with their purchasing habits and needs. The appending of e-mail data does not enhance targeting —it simply changes the medium of delivery. Quite frankly, the appending of e-mail address information could be viewed as downright intrusive, and extreme caution should be exercised.”

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