There's a common misconception when obtaining permission via web forms that we often see on the Email Team that needs clearing up. Many consider the amount of email addresses collected on a web form to be the end all be all of lead capturing success. But in truth, it’s all about the quality of those addresses. Top quality email marketing lists are grown organically via web forms that ask for explicit permission and set proper expectations.
How can I check to make sure my web forms are on point?
Explicit permission. Did each recipient on your list agree to receive ongoing email communication from your specific business entity? Permission based marketing is like dating. For example, let’s say Daisy went to a party and met a new friend, Jett. He invited her out for coffee the following week so Daisy gave him her phone number. A few days later, she started receiving unexpected calls- did he give out her number? Daisy doesn’t recognize the strangers leaving voicemails, so she blocks their phone numbers. When it comes to permission-based email marketing, the reality is no different. Ensuring that each recipient knows who you are and what you will be sending will prevent irritating your recipients and getting reported as spam. Proper expectations. Are you sending each recipient exactly what he or she opted in for? Let’s say Kent invites his girlfriend, Gabby, out for dinner next week. She happily agrees and is eagerly awaiting their date. The following afternoon, Kent is at her doorstep expecting to pick her up for dinner. She respectfully declines due to prior plans she has with her family. Oddly enough, however, he shows up the next day and the following day as well. Gabby thinks to herself, this isn’t what we agreed to, why is he not sticking to our original plan? If your recipients opt-in for monthly newsletters, that’s all they should receive. Their inbox should not begin to fill up with daily or even weekly emails. In the same light, if a recipient opts in for one free e-book, they should not be added to an ongoing email list unless they have somehow provided explicit permission for this (e.g. checked a newsletter box at the bottom of the e-book web form).
Cute stories, Katrina. But, how does this benefit my email marketing?
It’s definitely easier to collect email addresses using a free giveaway or a free e-book rather than a monthly newsletter. Who doesn’t love free stuff? However, it’s important to give them the option to subscribe to future communication. You could do this via a checkbox directly on the web form or email them after they’ve received the e-book. It could say something along the lines of, “Hope you enjoyed the e-book we sent yesterday! If you’d like to continue receiving monthly updates from us, click here!” This gives them multiple opportunities to opt-in and if they decide not to partake, these are not the people you want to spend company resources nurturing anyways. When a customer trusts you to provide them with relevant information and values the content you send, email marketing can be an extremely effective tool. But if you violate this trust by sending unwanted, unexpected emails, this can increase risks for spam complaints and hurt your reputation as well.
Disclaimer: Please note that "pre-checking" an opt-in box is not a best practices tactic. All opt-ins should be unchecked until done so by the subscriber. If your form looks like the first example, great job, you are gaining explicit permission and setting up clear expectations. If yours looks more like the latter, take the time to analyze what you’re saying and what you’re sending. If you’ve taken a free offering and turned it into a green light for all marketing materials, you could be putting your list at risk. But it’s not too late to course correct. You can start by cleaning up your existing email list and then proceed to update your web forms. It’s not about who has the biggest list. It’s about who has the best list. Make sure your email marketing strategy is going to helping the people who really want to receive your message.
About Katrina: I joined the Email Ops Team in July 2013 as an Email Marketing Import Analyst. I received my bachelor's degree in Business Communications from the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU and will be graduating with a master's in Business Administration from University of Phoenix this summer 2014. Prior to Infusionsoft, I worked at a digital marketing firm which sparked my interest in email marketing and ultimately led me to work for the best ESP for small businesses! When I'm not in front of a computer, I enjoy spending quality time with family and friends, a nice glass of wine and gourmet food (e.g., McDonald's french fries).