Email Marketing: All Opt-Ins Are Not Created Equal

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Posted: May 31, 2011 | Email Marketing

Oftentimes we, as email marketers, talk about different strategies and tactics to get recipients to ‘opt-in’ for future messages. But, not all opt-ins are created equal. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

We know that those who manually request additional information and future communications are more engaged with our brand, and therefore more likely to convert to customers. But where’s the proof?

A study analyzing more than 700 million messages found the following of confirmed opt-in recipients:

  • 71% higher open rate than that of unconfirmed opt-ins
  • 66% higher click-through rate than that of unconfirmed opt-ins
  • 75% fewer bounces than that of unconfirmed opt-ins
  • 40% fewer SPAM reports than that of unconfirmed opt-ins

All marketers must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, which requires email senders to stay away from “deceptive” and “misleading” headers and subject lines. In addition, marketers have to provide recipients clear access to opt-out of their email correspondence.

However, the law doesn’t require recipients to opt-in. Legally, you can market to any names you add to your list. But even though a contact may have filled in registration fields on your landing page or provided their email address at an event, you still have an additional responsibility to help them see why their automatic opt-in is worthwhile to continue.

These are the 3 ways marketers can inaugurate lead nurturing permission and why some are more effective:

1. Automatic opt-in (unconfirmed opt-in) – The easiest way to add contacts and the bare basics in terms of legality. You may be in keeping with the law but you’re not getting high marks for credibility. When you stay to the letter, you can add everyone who registers on your website to your mailing list.

The advantage is, you can fill your list with names quickly, but success in nurturing the contact to a desired action will take more than just dropping a message into their inbox.

To set your company apart, you need to follow the rules of relevancy, respect and relationship building.

2. Single opt-in (confirmed opt-in) – a good choice. To send a clear message to consumers that you aren’t interested in stuffing their inbox with info they may not be interested in, provide an additional field to specifically request permission to send them additional communications.

To make that opt-in easier, have the permission box pre-checked and be sure to highlight all the reasons they will benefit from continuing a dialogue with you.

Indicate what they stand to gain by leaving the box checked such as advice, resources (i.e., whitepapers) and/or special offers. Doing so will help paint a picture as to why your emails will be advantageous as opposed to one more click on the delete button when it comes to sorting their inbox.

3. Double opt-in – a better choice. Just because someone fills out a registration form on your website doesn’t necessarily mean they want to begin an ongoing relationship. When they do fill out those fields, send an initial email asking for permission to communicate with them. By doing so, you’ve shown them you respect their time and interest.

This explicit double opt-in approach is especially valuable when you have leads generated from a large pool of names (such as a trade show).

Introducing yourself will set a tone of credibility and distance you from those competitors who shoved all those names into a database ready for blast emails.

Once you’ve garnered permission, marketing automation can help streamline your campaigns based on lead behavior. You can segment leads into:

  • The “hot” groups – ready for sales development contact to determine if sales account reps should step in.
  • The “lukewarm” bunch – those that need further nurturing with fine-tuned messages to move them through the sales funnel.
  • The “cool” crowd – those who haven’t responded to your email permission request or have stopped opening emails.

With competitors swarming for prospects’ attention, any way to separate your company from the crowd with integrity can carry great weight with weary prospects. Go the extra distance to ask permission politely and then thank them for their time (more than once!) to prove your brand is one they need to continue a relationship with.

To learn best practices for connecting with new contacts, read Marketo’s ebook: Increasing Response to your Email Marketing programs.

Related Resources

  • http://twitter.com/BillMcC001 Bill McCarthy

    Interesting article, as opt in is a marketing term and the legal explanation is a legal exemption to override a federal, state or internal block. Depending on the contact channel (phone, email, SMS) there are different types of legal exemptions that carry different lengths of time that the exemption is valid. Some expire sooner than others. Check out these other blog articles that address opt-ins/legal exemptions, http://bit.ly/maOmbT 

  • Pingback: Inemode-The Business of Social- Interactive Internet Marketing Agency

Maria specializes in Inbound Marketing for Marketo, leading efforts in adoption of social media channels for brand awareness and demand generation. She has worked in marketing for over ten years, and specifically in online marketing including social media, search marketing, and lead generation and nurturing for the past six.

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Email Marketing: All Opt-Ins Are Not Created Equal

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