Permission is key to maximising email delivery, building trust (with prospects and customers) and increasing marketing ROI. Here is a 2 step plan to help set email permission standards.
1) Consider permission options
There are broadly 4 permission options in descending order of consent:
- Double opt-in (fully verified consent).
The inbox owner chooses to provide their email address (via an opt-in subscribe form or an unchecked box or clicking a subscribe option on a forwarded email) and confirms their consent by clicking a link on a confirmation email. Although compared to other methods, the quantity would be ranked low, the degree of engagement (quality) is likely to be high.
- Single opt-in (fast consent).
The inbox owner chooses to provide their email address (via an opt-in subscribe form or an unchecked box or clciking a subscribe option on a forwarded email). The quantity would be ranked medium and the degree of engagement (quality) is likely to be medium / high.
- Opt-out 1 (implied consent).
Email addresses are collected (via pre checked boxes on forms and web pages) as part of a purchase transaction or competition entry and subsequently used for marketing. The quantity would be ranked high and the degree of engagement (quality) is likely to be medium / low.
- Opt-out 2 (‘dubious’ consent).
Email addresses are collected without express consent or knowledge. This might be from business cards (where there may be an expection of implied consent) but could be from attendee lists, websites and bought-in data. Here the quantity would be ranked high but the degree of subscriber engagement is likely to be low or near zero.
2) Choose which permision option(s) you want to use
- are you more interested in quantity or quality (engagement)?
- do you need to comply with industry specific rules that require double opt-in?
- is your product or service likely to result in sensitivity or complaints if you send an email without verified subscriber consent? e.g. adult products
- do you want to build trust by following an exclusively opt-in process?
- do you have any existing privacy policies or data management practices that already state an opt-in or opt-out position?
- do you have an email system that enables you to send a subscription confirmation message?
- how important is it to have a good email reputation?
- do you have email delivery issues caused by a poor email reputation?
- are you already gathering email addresses e.g. as part of a transaction
The UK legal position re opt-in and opt-out
Email recipients must have opted-in unless
- you are promoting your business products to employees of a Limited Company
- or if an indiviidual has bought (or negotiated to buy) something similar from you and provided their email address for this, you can promote similar goods and services to them
n.b. you must supply a free opt-out mechanism e.g. an unsubscribe link
Typically, my email clients use single opt-in. Some occasionally supplement this with opt-out by using business cards collected and attendee lists if:
- they have a good email reputation
- are very likely to be known to the email recipient
- they send a first email with a news or information bias rather than an aggresive sales email
Setting the correct permissions options is crucial and if in doubt use double or single opt-in.