From an excerpt found in the Internet Marketing Guidebook:
Old email lists (namely those that are older than 6 months) are full of people who used to be interested in your stuff, but may have forgotten. These people are notoriously trigger happy with the SPAM button. Don’t send them emails.
Mario asked, “What do you mean by this?”
The bottom line is that permission has an expiration date. There is no set date. It’s kind of like food’s ‘best used by’ date. You might be able to fudge a bit by letting that date pass, but every day after that, you run the risk of eating rotten food and getting sick.
The same rule applies with email permission. When someone gives you their email address and gives you permission to communicate with them, the clock starts ticking. If you don’t communicate with them right away, you run the risk of your permission expiring and rotting. If permission rots and you send email, you run a very high risk of incurring spam complaints. Generally, if you haven’t emailed a person in six months, you should work on gaining permission again. Permission is never assumed or implied.
Here are some best practices for permission-based opt-in email marketing:
- Communicate immediately – Once someone opts in to your marketing, you should send them a confirmation email immediately. This lets them know that their form submission was successful and gives you an opportunity to confirm their permission with a double opt-in link. Even if you’re collecting email addresses offline (at a networking event, in your store, etc), you should send an email right away to establish the email relationship.
- Set expectations – In that first email, you should set expectations about two things: frequency and content. Tell your subscribers how often you’ll be sending email and let them know what type of information you’ll be sending. People are much more likely to open your emails and read them if they’re expecting them. On the other hand, if you haven’t set expectations correctly, you’re likely to get spam complaints from people who receive an unexpected email from you in their inbox.
- Provide value – You increase your chances of being able to maintain a long-term email relationship with your subscribers if you give them good, relevant content.
- Give them an out – Always be sure to give your subscribers the ability to opt out of your email communications. Don’t hide the link. Be upfront about it. The truth is, if you’re giving them good content and they still want to opt out, they’re not a good lead any way. Let them go.
- Let them set their preferences – It’s also a good idea to let people choose how often they receive emails from you and what type of content they will receive. Infusionsoft gives you the ability to send your subscribers links to set their preferences. “Click here if you want to receive emails once a week” or “Click here if you want to receive emails once per month”. Based on those clicks you can start a weekly follow-up sequence or a monthly follow-up sequence. By giving subscribers control, you reduce your chance for spam complaints.
Remember, permission doesn’t last forever. And, in fact, it must be earned with every communication. So, even if you’ve established a good email relationship with your list, remember that in order to stay welcome in their inbox, you need to continue to communicate with great content and set expectations.
If you have a marketing question you’d like answered next Monday, just ask it in the comments below.