A Guide to Permission-Based Email Marketing

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Learn to use opt-in email marketing to grow your email list. The Ascent covers the nitty-gritty of permission-based email marketing.

Sending unsolicited emails can hurt your sender score. Your recipients will unsubscribe, tag your email as spam, or ignore your email messages.

This is why permission-based email marketing is crucial. Not only does it prevent your IP or domain from getting blacklisted, but it also increases your open rates. In fact, according to Campaign Monitor, opt-in emails have an average open rate of 30% to 40%. That’s an awesome open rate to have!

Learn how to use permission-based email marketing to grow your email list and improve your email marketing results.

Overview: What is permission-based email marketing?

Permission email marketing just means sending communication only to recipients who've given consent to receive your messages.

The two types of permissions are:

  • Explicit: Users expressed consent to receive your emails by entering their email address on your opt-in form.
  • Implicit: This is based on the assumption that recipients agreed to receive your emails because of previous interactions they've had with your business. For instance, users implicitly provide consent when they register for an account on your site and purchase your product or service.

Benefits of permission-based email marketing

Implement permission-based or opt-in email marketing to enjoy the following benefits.

1. Reduce spam risks and comply with anti-spam laws

Getting consent through an email opt-in form helps you avoid violating regulations, being tagged as spam, or getting added to an email blacklist.

Use a mail blacklist checker to assess your online mail server and check if you are on a blacklist.

Email blacklist checker tool

Use email blacklist checker tools to see if you’ve been blacklisted. Image source: Author

Subscribers are less likely to tag your emails as spam if they consented to receiving your marketing messages.

2. Promote your brand’s reputation

Ask for consent before emailing your contacts. This shows you value their privacy, and it’s a good display of how mindful you are of your audience. By obtaining their consent, your small business email marketing efforts can help bolster your brand reputation.

You set yourself apart from other companies who annoy their audience by “blasting” them with unsolicited email. Imagine how big of an advantage you’ll have if your audience is looking forward to your emails while dreading your competitors' emails.

3. Get better email marketing ROI

Build your email list with warm leads through permission-based email marketing. Since your email list is composed of people who opted in to your emails, they are more likely to take action on your offers. They aren’t on guard when they see an email message from you; they’re expecting it.

Because there isn’t much resistance from your audience, it’s easier to influence them to believe you and follow your calls to action, which ultimately improves your return on your investment in email marketing.

4. Know your audience better

Permission email marketing helps you learn more about your contacts.

When subscribers sign up for your emails, they provide their name, contact info, job, industry, etc. -- all of which you can use to personalize your messages to them. Segment your audience according to similar interests and traits. Doing so will help you create relevant content for specific contact groups.

Six strategies to quickly improve your email opt-in rate

Follow these permission-based email marketing tips to quickly increase your opt-ins.

1. Share compelling offers

Entice your first-time website visitors to sign up for your email list with irresistible offers.

Use these tips to show your prospects the benefits of subscribing to your emails:

  • Offer a sneak peek: Entice your audience to sign up by sharing a sneak peek of your offer. For example, encourage your audience to subscribe to your email series “How to Grow Your Online Business” by adding a video teaser of the first step. Then, include a call-to-action that says, “Sign up to receive tips two through six.” This piques your audience’s interest in your email content, compelling them to act on your offer.
  • Provide exclusive incentives: Generate more opt-ins by giving your subscribers exclusive access to discounts, resources, and more. Because your offers are exclusive, their perceived value is increased, making them more compelling reasons for your audience to opt in.

2. Make your forms pop

Create eye-catching opt-in forms so they become unmissable.

Email marketing software such as SendPulse lets you create pop-ups and fixed, embedded, and floating subscription forms.

SendPulse's form builder

Create email subscription forms with the SendPulse form builder. Image source: Author

Its form builder tool lets you build your opt-in form from scratch. You also have the option to use pre-made templates.

Customize your form’s design, fields, and other elements to create fun and intriguing opt-in forms. Use them to get email permission from your prospects, boosting your opt-in rates.

Consider these tips for creating attention-grabbing subscription forms:

  • Use contrasting colors: Highlight essential elements in your opt-in forms, such as your CTA buttons, with striking colors and high contrast. This prevents them from blending into the background. You want to make them easy to see and click.
  • Select the right opt-in type: Increase your number of subscribers by testing different subscription forms to assess which ones work best for your audience.

3. Allow your subscribers to manage preferences

Include a link to a preference center in your email’s footer. A preference center allows users to let you know the type of email content they want to get and how often they want to receive your messages.

Tips for creating a preference center for your email recipients:

  • Enable subscribers to select the frequency: Offer email frequency options, such as daily, weekly, or monthly. This lets subscribers choose how often they want to hear from you so they won’t be bombarded by too many messages.
  • Allow your contacts to self-segment: Let your subscribers select the type of content they want to receive through your preference center. For example, if you’re a clothing retailer, allow your contacts to choose whether they want to receive information on men’s or women’s apparel. This helps you send relevant emails to your recipients, which keeps them engaged with your brand.

4. Provide an easy way to unsubscribe

Avoid sending unwanted messages, and allow users to unsubscribe from your email list easily.

Tips to make the unsubscribe process simple:

  • Include an "unsubscribe" link in all your emails: Add the link to the footer of your emails so your contacts can opt out of your email list at any time.
  • Implement an email management strategy: Manage your email list properly so you don’t keep sending emails to contacts who've unsubscribed. With proper email management, you get better results out of your email marketing campaigns while experiencing less backlash.

It might seem contradictory to make it easy for your contacts to unsubscribe, but it improves their experience with your brand.

Bonus tip: Implement double opt-in email marketing to get explicit permission from subscribers to receive your emails. This ensures that your contacts want to receive your emails, reducing the chances they’ll unsubscribe from your list.

5. Leverage social proof

Win over more subscribers using the influence and positive experiences other people have had with your brand. Show how credible and customer-centered your business is by displaying social proof.

Tips to highlight social proof in your subscription forms:

  • Showcase one or two testimonials and reviews from satisfied customers.
  • Include videos with influencers talking about your products or brands.
  • Display a ticker showing your number of subscribers.

6. Automate

Save time and money by automating your permission-based email marketing tasks while improving your opt-in rates. Streamline your email marketing efforts, including email retargeting, to reduce the number of manual tasks you have to do and produce results more quickly.

Automate to widen your reach, run your email marketing campaigns efficiently, and quickly grow your email list.

Implement permission-based email marketing the right way

Permission-based email marketing has a lot to do with respecting your subscribers’ preferences and adhering to regulations. As you show concern and respect to your subscribers, you get value in return because of their positive experience with your brand.

Use the strategies in this guide to increase your email deliverability and open rates as well as build long-term relationships with your contacts.

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