Looking to use best practice to improve your email marketing program? Take the right steps around compliance and deliver more effective campaigns by considering "The Ladder of Consent."
The Ladder of Consent:
Now, consider these contributing factors to your success:
List Size: The members of your audience or customer base who have subscribed to a list using a double opt-in method will be, by definition, your smallest and most select audience. These are your hand-raisers and self-subscribers. Studies indicate that in some instances, you can potentially be losing an additional 40% of your audience in the additional opt-in confirmation step (from single opt-in), but would argue that the benefits far outweigh this attrition. The lower tiers in the ladder of consent obviously allow for much larger audience pools.
Campaign Types: Prospecting and acquisition campaigns are certainly handcuffed away from utilizing only the highest, cleanest levels of consented customers. Double opt-in recipients are likely already customers and an attentive audience, but the goal is to serve a message to a new audience. In such an instance, every effort must be made to ensure that while you are forced to use lists of less receptive audiences who have likely provided a less authoritative consent to email, the list is as clean as possible and the addresses are not abused. There are a number of campaign types that should be targeted to your double opt-in audience: loyalty campaigns that create engagement with viral potential, newsletters to keep them informed, timely notes to recognize important dates, and event-based communications triggered either by their own interactions with the brand or attributes about that audience.
Receptivity and Results: Your most receptive audience has most actively agreed to receive your communications. This will be your double opt-in group, which has formally acknowledged inclusion in your efforts. Assuming your emails match best practice measures for content, deliverability, timing and strategy, then results using this list (or segments queried in subsets of it) will be far superior in all positive metrics when compared to a purchased list. On the other end of the spectrum, a more loosely consented list or one purchased from a list vendor will very typically generate high volumes of negative metrics such as hard bounces, opt-outs, and spam complaints. In the end, this list may result in greater volumes of positive interactions simply due to size, but much lower in percentage and furthermore, the increase in negative reaction threatens to damage future deliverability by diminishing your sender score, sender reputation and putting you at risk of being blacklisted.
Vendor Considerations: In the current email marketing environment, certain vendors will not allow their clients to utilize their services without a consumer's expressed consent received using a positive opt-in method. Marketing to consumers who have not provided expressed opt-in consent will be seen as a breach of contract with such vendors and will likely result in a termination of your ability to send further communications from them.
CAN-SPAM Compliance: Last year's update to the CAN-SPAM Act categorizes only opt-in and double opt-in marketing as 'affirmative consent.' CAN-SPAM requires "affirmative consent" for commercial emails, i.e. single opt-in or double opt-in. If a commercial email is sent without affirmative consent, it must be labeled as an Advertisement or Solicitation. ISPs, of course, may use that as criteria to filter out your email.
Common Means of Receiving Consent:
- Incentivize web registration:
- Offer whitepapers, free trials, downloads, access to exclusive content
- Sales and event alerts, product announcements, product discounts
- Contests, sweepstakes and viral opportunities
- Newsletters and blog subscriptions
- Club or loyalty program
- Create opportunities during all client/brand interactions:
- Offline subscription lists at interaction opportunities (trade shows, networking events, point of purchase)
- Subscription requests on blog, during online sales process, when accessing website
- Shopping cart
- Offer subscription opportunity during customer service events such as inbound or outbound telephone calls
- Ask for referrals from current audience as advocates and brand ambassadors
- Run an initial offer campaign requesting their subscription (possibly incentivized when possible) as an initial permission pass
- Subscription offers or links shared via social media engagement
Combine The Ladder of Consent with email best practice to make the most of your campaign messaging.
SIGMA Marketing Insights is a data-driven, boutique marketing services firm that has been improving marketing ROI for clients since 1985. Learn more about us at www.sigmamarketing.com.