Though many people practice email marketing to promote their goods and services, some don’t know the difference between spam and opt-in email marketing. It’s understandable. As the years have progressed, many sources have blurred the line between opt-in and bulk email spam for their own purposes. However, we’ve defined both here.

Spam vs. opt-in email: definitions

Bulk email spam: Spam is any email sent for commercial purposes without permission from the receiver. This means that if you’re sending emails to your friends, family and colleagues, it does not qualify as spam. However, if you’re sending a batch of emails to people who never asked to receive them from you, promoting your latest line of shaving products, you’re most definitely sending spam.

Opt-in email: Opt-in email is any commercial email sent to people who have specifically signed up to receive it. Permission, in this respect, is clear-cut. If you have a list based on people who have signed up to receive emails about travel in general but not your travel agency, it doesn’t qualify as specific permission. If you have a list of people who have agreed, in some form of writing, link clicking or other evidence, that they want to receive emails from your travel agency specifically, you fall well within the bounds of opt-in.

The case for opt-in permission

What makes permission email marketing different is not just that you have the approval of the customer to send to them, it’s that you, by getting permission, are sending email campaigns to people who really want them. Even with permission email marketing, every once in awhile a person who gave you permission will hit the spam button. But at least you have the proof showing your email service provider that you had permission and you followed the proper procedure.

Opt-in email: advantages

  • Preserves your email marketing reputation
  • Shows customers that you respect their privacy
  • Helps you email people who are interest in what you’re selling
  • Saves you time and money by micro-focusing your list
  • Lets you be more targeted in your campaigns
  • Helps you build long-term, trust-based relationships with customers
  • Can boost your sales and product interest

The perils of bulk, uninvited email

Sending bulk email spam puts your email marketing reputation at risk -period. When you send mass emails to people who never asked for them, they’re going to hit the spam button. This will get you in trouble with Internet service providers, and at worst, get your email and IP address blacklisted.

The disadvantages of sending bulk email spam:

  • Your recipients will be unresponsive
  • You’ll waste time sending to an unresponsive audience
  • You’ll waste money sending emails to people who don’t want them
  • You’ll ruin your email marketing reputation
  • You’ll ruin the reputation of your company or business
  • You’ll see your open and click-through rates drop
With so many filters with varying sets of rules from so many email service provides, even the email marketer following the very best practices can count on as many as 20% of emails not making it to the inbox.

When you send out spam, you can flip that number and you’ll see less than 20% actually make it in, if that. So we recommend getting permission. Create a Signup Form and put it on your site. Sign up customers for your emails when they make a purchase. Whatever you do, make sure you have permission so that your email marketing campaigns aren’t sent in vain.

Benchmark email makes it easy to build a permission-based email list. Craft a custom Signup Form to gather subscriptions on your email Website and watch them get automatically added to your email list.

Quick ways to gather permission-based email subscriptions

  • Add a Signup Form to every page on your Website
  • Gather paper sign ups at trade shows and other events
  • Put an email sign up at the end of every transaction
  • Add a sign-up link to each email you post in a forum or message board
  • Offer a white paper or other content for each customer that signs up for your newsletters or emails
  • Offer a discount or coupon to customers who sign up for your emails or newsletters

Opt-in email continues to be the industry standard for good email marketing. With just a Signup Form and some creativity on your end, you’ll find yourself building a targeted, valuable list of people who delight in what products and services you have to offer.

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by Benchmark Team