Subscribe to industry newsletters

Advertise on Bizcommunity

Email marketing: Avoiding assumption and gaining permission

Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing mediums of the digital age. There are numerous reasons for this such as its cost-effectiveness, measurability and its high response rates. But, email marketing only works when it is implemented in the correct way and if the processes involved in launching a campaign is carefully managed. Conversely, when marketers disregard the rules of email marketing and by extension the laws recently set out by regulations such as the Consumer Protection Act, campaigns will not be as effective and customers are inconvenienced.
One of the most important rules when it comes to email marketing is never to assume permission. Email marketing should always be opt-in or permission based - which means a consumer has to actively agree that they want to receive marketing messages from your brand. Sending unsolicited mailers to people who did not expressly ask to receive them is not only a violation of their privacy but often a violation consumer laws.

Often however, companies are not purposefully spamming people but are merely mistakenly assuming that people want to be added to their mailing lists. This is a common mistake, but one that should be avoided by marketers at all costs.

Here are some groups that email marketers typically assume permission from:

Customers who purchased

Online shopping orders usually require customers to provide companies with an email address. This is usually done in order to send the customer's receipts, delivery information etc., but that doesn't mean these customers want to receive your marketing messages.

Support inquiries

It is totally unacceptable to add the email addresses of people who have contacted your company for customer support. These customers expect service and a solution to their problem - not to receive your promotional material.

Social media followers and fans

Although companies are granted relatively easy access to the email addresses of many of their Facebook fans, LinkedIn contacts, etc. - this access does not entitle a company to add those contacts to their mailing list. Your social media followers agreed they want to connect with you via these social networks, but that doesn't mean they want to be on your mailing list.

Assuming permission to market to customers can have negative implications for your company. Here are some things that are likely to happen:
  • You might damage your brand's reputation. Receiving unsolicited mail is an annoyance that few people today want to put up with. Disgruntled customers complain by word of mouth and online - which ultimately results in your brand being shown in a negative light.

  • If people are complaining about your brand sending them unwarranted mailers, or marking those mailers as spam, email clients will start filtering your mailers as soon as they are sent out. This results in decreased deliverability, which means that subscribers who want to receive your mailers may not get them.

  • You risk alienating and annoying potentially interested subscribers. All email marketing should always be permission based, and the subscriber must always actively - not tacitly - grant that permission. It's a common mistake in the marketing world to assume that certain people would want to know more about your brand, even if they didn't actually agree to it, but it's definitely one to be avoided. The benefits of marketing to people who want to hear from your brand are great, and happy subscribers could one day turn into happy customers.

Digital Fire's press office

Digital Fire
Digital Fire is an email marketing and digital media specialist based in Cape Town. Digital Fire specializes in full service opt-in email marketing, email data rental, email database management and digital media consultancy. We provide cutting edge digital marketing and advertising solutions for our clients in the South African marketplace and internationally in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States.