Such is the reach of email marketing, that advertisers will do anything to list a couple of hundred more participants on their opt-in lists.
The channel is a great way to reach customers where they are without spending money and the gains are plentiful. It’s for this exact reason why you shouldn’t be surprised to hear of the odd dirty tactic every now and then. However, what court cases and huge fines have proven is that email marketing abusers rarely come away with a glowing reputation intact, and crime in this field doesn’t pay!
You should look to achieve the best results through good practices, like speaking to the audience on a personal level and respecting the customer with your output. A related point is that you should ask the user for their permission to send across your branded content.
Here’s why this isn’t just a nice option to have – it’s a must.
Without asking the user for permission you risk losing customer goodwill and falling foul of laws covering email marketing. UK companies must provide an opt-in form under The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. To put it simply, this states that you cannot contact individuals without their consent, or unless it has been obtained in a legal sale.
After this point you can freely contact them about your own products or services at whatever point. Just remember that the more you send, the more likely people are to opt-out due to an all too frequent delivery rate. In all communications you must always provide contact details and a means for recipients to erase themselves from the opt-in list should they so wish. The same goes for SMS marketers, who reluctantly have to bookend their messages with ‘to stop receiving this message text NO to..’ or similar.
There are few exceptions to this rule, but not if you’re looking to build your opt-in list naturally and without the help of contact sellers.
It is not illegal to send your brand messages out to employees of a limited company or limited liability partnerships, although you cannot extend this to sole traders or unincorporated partnerships. Furthermore, individual employees of limited companies have a right to opt out of receiving communications from a brand. This is listed under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998.
How you can get permission legally
Fear not, your email marketing campaign isn’t doomed because you can’t cheat your way to success. Permission is not difficult to get once you know how!
The key is to offer something of value to the audience, like a special discount or exclusive content. This is exchanged for the customer agreeing to receive your messages and, if you’re clued up with heat maps and other reporting tools, you can gain valuable customer information and preferences through your offering.
Sign-ups can be done quickly through a website or through paper forms at an outdoor event. In a sense this is where your cunning is best put to use. You must be able to offer the consumer a reason for them to forge such a direct connection.
Irrespective of the law and good email marketing practices, providing an opt-in list is a pretty effective way of ensuring you only end up with contacts that carry a genuine interest in your brand.