Confirmed opted-in email addresses; more valuable than the “likes” on your FB page

Email marketing…successful, but is it successful by the number of Facebook likes you have?

Are you always under pressure to outdo your last campaign, even though your campaigns are working better than expected?

Are you concerned that your numbers are behind the industry standard, (is there an industry standard)?  Do you find yourself struggling to keep up with those perceived industry numbers?

And what about “Management”  – doesn’t it seem they always expect bigger and better results, frowning on inconsistency and unexpected declines?

And to top it off is your manager making the claim that email is passé –everything should be tweeted and Facebooked instead.  Aren’t you tired of hearing “how many likes do we have?” 

As an email marketer, you already know a well-conceived and implemented email marketing campaign has been proven, over and over again, to be the most cost-effective way to:

  1. Produce leads
  2. Acquire new customers
  3. Bring in more revenue

In a perfect world, with a little effort, your subscriber base would grow and all your subscribers would respond to all your campaigns with enthusiasm and interest.

However, we operate in a not so perfect world, there’s no guarantee you’ll maintain your subscribers base numbers or how your subscribers will respond to a mailing.  That fact that list membership shrinks naturally, by attrition, there’s always pressure to continue to grow your list. You want to maintain subscriber numbers, preferably all with good opted-in addresses.

This is important because the constant addition of qualified/permission-based list members is one of the keys to effective list building and ultimately the success of your campaigns.

List building in itself is the easy part. “Permission” based list building, the preferred way, can take time as, as duly noted in some circles as the biggest obstacle for list marketers to overcome.

There are many strategies to collect names:  and wouldn’t it make life simple just to be able to add email addresses to your list, regardless of how you obtained them.  However, possession of an email address does not give you the owner’s unequivocal permission to send email to it.  Ideally, you want to collect opted-in to your list addresses.  An opt-in subscriber wants your email: they told you so by an action of some type, giving you permission to send email to them.  However, even with opted-in email addresses, not all address are created equal, they could be an address that is:

  1. Single opted-in – In theory, the email recipient has, at some point, given permission to receive email from you.  They provided their email address on a form, website, response card and so on.  The list owner does not confirm their email address; hence, it’s a single contact.  In theory, this is okay but in actuality, there’s a lot of room for inaccuracy, misuses, input mistakes, and spelling errors. There is also malicious intent, like signing up your boss for every email list under the sun.
  2. Double opt-in – This is the ideal way to get permission, as your recipient confirms their subscription when they sign up for your list. They do this with a response (an action) of some type.  They are sent an email to confirm, they respond, hence double contact.  (Double opted-in is also known as closed-loop confirmed opted-in or verified opted-in).

Neither method is foolproof: unlike single opted-in, double opt-in subscriptions provide an auditable trail of responsibility, supporting the legitimacy of the address. You have proof they confirmed their address to be on your list, evidence that you may need (to keep you off a blacklist) if a recipient reports your mail as spam, which as we all know does happen.

Then, there is the definition of “permission” where potential subscriber permission may be:

  1. Expressed permission, the best type of consent to get, as it comes directly from the user himself (herself).  An example of an action, checking a box on a website registration form to request your email newsletter.
  2. Implied permission, permission that is not given, it’s inferred from an action or relationship, such as not removing a pre-check on a website form for list membership.

So what do you do with single-opted-in implied permission addresses?  Convert them into confirmed opted-in, at the collection point.

Always look for a way to give your potential recipient an opportunity to opt-in to your list by:

  1. Selecting a visible area on your webpages to your registration page: right on top of the home page.
  2. Placing a link to your list registration page from every web page (you own) that your prospects and customers may go to.
  3. Inviting potential recipients to join your list when they checkout online – and tell them why they should and offer them a discount if they do.
  4. Designing specific list registration landing pages for all those paid Google ads you’re running
  5. Sponsoring another list, find a list offering complementary products to your own.  You sell Salt; find a company who sells Pepper.
  6. Offering webinars, white pages, youtube instructions or other incentives.  Include an offer to sign up to your newsletters for additional information, email-only discounts or monthly specials.
  7. Asking your current subscribers to “refer a friend”: include your registration link to a specific landing page just for referring friend signup.
  8. Using mobile marketing incentives – include a link to your email registration page.
  9. AND include an opt-in link to your mailing list on all your outbound email.

Upfront and Personal, ask them to sign up:

  1. At Trade Shows Conferences and More.  Technology allows show vendors to scan the bar codes embedded on the back of those little entrance badges we wear. Those codes normally include our email address, name, company name, and other tidbits.  Simply use your trade show supplied scanner too, with their permission, of course, to add them to your mailing list.  Automatically email a confirmation when the address is added.
  2. Manually, traditionally a pen and paperwork well too. You will have to add their name to your list, but automatically send them a confirmation email. This will catch most input errors.
  3. On your printed materials:  Publish the link to your subscription page on everything you produce, business cards, yellow page ads (are they still used?), giveaways, flyers, in-store advertisements, customer surveys, ads, and catalog listings.
  4. On your direct mail pieces.  Postcards work well, in fact, if you would like to sign up to our postcard mailing “Quick Tip” you can sign up now and see how we do it.
  5. At every customer contact point. All customer service representatives should be trained to ask customers and prospects if they would like to be added to your mailing list with a brief explanation of why they should join. Again, have a confirmation sent to them as soon as their name is added.
  6. When you speak at a live seminar.  Include a link to your list signup on the last slide, and handout.  Bring up your mailing list in the summary of your presentation and offer an incentive for signing up that day. Don’t forget the confirmation!
  7. At the point of sale. Invite customers to sign up for your list as they check out.  A downloadable discount coupon may be offered after they confirm their subscription.

Continual list subscription acquisition and verification take effort. The constant addition of qualified/permission-based list members is one of the keys to effective list building and ultimately the success of your campaigns.  This is followed by the challenge to maintain a relationship with each subscriber after they are opted-in.  What you do with your list and the type of follow up for your subscribers will determine if your subscribers will continue to be your subscribers.  For example, an easy subscription management process will encourage subscribers to update their information on a regular basis and allow them to change preferences instead of opting out. Because there are several parts to a successful email campaign, mailing schedules, segments, content, length of a message, graphics, subject lines, text or HTML all those parts will come together with the proper foundation: a strong list membership strengthen by confirmed opted-in addresses making them more valuable than the “likes” on your FB pages. For more information, please contact