In this second of our three-part series, The Six Cs of Permission Email Marketing, we continue to define the permission fundamentals by examining the third and fourth dimensions of permission: Clarity and Confidence.
As a dimension of permission, clarity alone has many aspects. When requesting permission (an "opt-in") for example, first and foremost that very fact should be clear. There are numerous shades of gray here—and, sadly, many online marketers seem to thrive in muddy waters.
Your first step to staying clear is to ensure that your request is exactly that—an obvious yes-or-no choice rather than an assumption of permission.
Too often, marketers asking for tolerance—or forgiveness—claim they are permission marketers. In today's world, forgiveness does not equal permission. Opt-out is not opt-in, and no attempt at reframing it after the fact will make it so.
Take the high road. And if you're planning for 100% permission email, understand that a percentage of your prospects and even your customers will decline your communications. Learn to accept rejection, and instead focus your efforts on those who have voluntarily said "yes."
The remaining dimensions of clarity in permission marketing have more to do with the data gathering process than with the request itself.
- Can you state, in WIIFM* terms, why someone should provide the data you're asking for? Do you articulate the clear benefit to your audience members when, for example, they provide their company size? ZIP code? Annual income?
- Is there a special perk or gift you offer when a member provides his/her birthday? Renewal date? Completes a survey?
- Scrutinize every data element that you request within the permission process; if you can't justify it, leave it for later. Once you've gathered basic contact information, you can always go back for more.
Finally, is it clear what will be sent? In which channels and formats will communications arrive? Postal mail, phone, email? Catalog, direct mail, phone call, e-newsletter? Can you provide examples (either via a link to an e-communication or photo of offline advertising; or through the mail) to create confidence, comfort and credibility?