Playing by the Rules
Unfortunately, these opt-in lists may be quite expensive. Some opt-in lists that offer recipients bonus points or cash to open mail may deliver prospects whose motivations have little to do with buying your product.
In practice, permission e-mail marketing means marketers must build or rent opt-in lists. Rented opt-in lists may be other companies’ house files in which the customers have agreed to receive third-party e-mail offers, or they may be opt-in networks, such as NetCreations’ PostmasterDirect, Yesmail.com or ChooseYourMail.com.
To make opt-in lists work:
1. Ask questions of the list’s source. Get a feel for what it offers and why people have chosen to be on it.
2. Understand the pricing system. Tony Priore, vice president of marketing for Yesmail.com advises, “Price is generally based on demand and the quality of the information you get. Ask if the price is á la carte or if services are bundled in. Some companies charge for transmission or other services, so you need a complete picture before you compare price.”
3. Find out how the list was built. Is it opt-in, opt-out or double opt-in?
4. Join the list to see what it’s like. What is the volume of mail? What kind of messages do you get? What are they saying to consumers? How easy is it to opt-out?
5. Find out who has used the list successfully—not just who has tested it. Most successful e-mail marketers today are using e-mail to communicate with existing customers, not prospects, says Keith Wardell, founder and president of Shop2U.com. In other words, they are relying on the prior business relationship model to make e-mail pay.
Prior Business Relationship
In fact, the most solid of the three acceptable uses of e-mail may be to contact consumers with whom the mailer has a prior business relationship—a standard that has already been legally established for fax marketing.