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Permission is the Power Behind Email Marketing

I read something yesterday that struck a nerve with me. And not just with me, but many of my “Email Snob” friends out there. Here’s the headline:

“Sending e-mail when you don’t have an opt-in”

The article (in BtoB Magazine) suggests, that while best practices and the numbers dictate that opt-in leads to better results, the recession has “forced [companies] to drop this etiquette.” Here’s more:

“The requirements of CAN-SPAM are really clear,” said [Gary Halliwell, CEO of NetProspex]. “The sender of an e-mail has to provide an opt-out link, but there’s nothing prohibiting a marketer from sending an e-mail to someone who hasn’t opted in. We’re seeing a lot of companies, including Fortune 1,000 companies, changing their strategies from opt-in to opt-out with good results. As long as you’re sending relevant materials and creating educational experiences, people will be open to receiving your messages.”

Umm… what?

Yes, CAN-SPAM makes it legal to send emails to people who have not opted in. But is it the right thing to do?


As I’ve written before, email marketing’s power is based in permission. There’s something impressive about someone choosing to receive your messages. With choice comes inclination. With inclination comes interest. With interest comes decision. And we all know what decision means: A sale.

It boils down to this: Spam = Unwanted Email.

If someone wants your email, they’ll give you permission to send it to them.

CAN-SPAM is not enough. It’s the bare minimum with serious emphasis, but not nearly enough.

There is one good thing that Mr. Halliwell said in that article: Send relevant messages. After all, even if you have opt-in, there’s nothing to stop someone from hitting the “This is Spam” button if you forget to follow general best practices.

As for the premise that because of the recession, we don’t need to worry about opt-in anymore? Ridiculous.

As I told the VP of Direct Marketing at GNC who responded to my Email Zoo post, us email marketers are all in this together. Social media won’t be the death of email. Spam will, if we’re not careful and dedicated to our craft.

There, I’ve said what I came to say. What say you?

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