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This Email Doth Protest Too Much

January 5, 2009  

Marketers committed to a permission-based email strategy have an understandable urge to remind subscribers of the fact, especially when they're being unfairly flagged as spammers. In a post at the Email Marketing Reports blog, Mark Brownlow highlights the type of copy often used to justify legitimate messages. But there's a problem here. If statements like the following accurately describe your subscription policy, shouldn't they go without saying?

  • This is NOT SPAM.
  • We are not spammers and are against spamming of any kind.
  • You have received this email because you expressed interest in our products in the past.
  • This email is sent in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.

"Permission-based email has its own in-built justification," says Brownlow. "[P]eople explicitly requested it." So when you insist your message isn't spam, already-wary recipients begin to think that's exactly what it is.

Reminding people that they subscribed is not an effective way to pre-empt spam complaints and unsubscribe requests. "Instead," he says, "you have to ask why people [may not] want your email anymore. What can you do about it? And if you can't do anything about it, are you at least making it as easy as possible for them to get off your list?"

The Po!nt: If they like you, let them be. "If you have to justify yourself," concludes Brownlow, "then chances are you haven't got the right kind of permission from people on your list."

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  • by Ken Yeung Mon Jan 5, 2009 via web

    I get your point, but I don't think it's entirely correct.

    You're saying that just because someone has given you permission, that you don't need to justify why you're sending them email? But what happens if they don't remember why you're sending them the email in the first place? It's not really a justification, but rather a reminder - people think that "surprise" emails are now considered SPAM and will automatically delete it or move it to their Junk Mail folder.

    Once you've passed the initial test by having the user click on your email with the persuasive subject line, they'll probably look at it and wonder what the heck is this all about. Regardless of their level of intrigue, they'll probably wonder why they received this notice or whatnot. Perhaps it may seem like a phishing scam or something bogus. That extra statement that reads "this is why you received this email" will be reassuring.

    Now, I'm not saying that you should be explicit and say "This is NOT SPAM" or "We are not spammers..." because that's just ridiculous. Rather, make the statement more reassuring that you're sending them something of value. But I think there should be some comment to remind the user why they gave you permission in the first place. It doesn't have to be front and center but somewhere on the email it should be.

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