In the never ending battle against spam, both recipients and legitimate senders become casualties. In spite of every valiant effort, spam continues to be an annoyance and potential security threat when targeted at the unknowing, unsuspecting user. Yet spam has failed to prevent email from being a great marketing tool. If you want to use this tool effectively, understand that opt-in email marketing is the only way to go.

Why Not Bulk?

Bulk email is a very attractive option. It’s easy to execute, gives you access to a large global audience, and happens to be insanely cheap. Even though it doesn’t have the best image these days, it is also perfectly legal. Unfortunately, bulk email is the technique that spammers thrive on. This means there isn’t much room for error. If you deploy an entire campaign without obtaining permission from even some of those people, you could find yourself in a real pickle. Best case scenario: you get ignored. Worst case: they report you for spam and strain the relationship you have with your ESP (email service provider). This is definitely not good for your reputation.

Technically, opt-in email marketing only differs from bulk in one simple, yet important area – the commitment to running a permission-based operation. This approach is the safest and most effective way to ensure you encounter as few problems as possible. Get the members of your target audience to sign up for your mailings and confirm that they want to hear from you via email. To be on the safe side, you could go even further by exercising a double opt-in, which gives them the opportunity to reconfirm their interest in a follow-up message. Keep up with all your records and make sure your list stays free of debris. Cover all the angles so you can distance yourself from spam and maintain credibility.

Building Your Op-In List

Getting started with opt-in email marketing is a relatively easy process. The ultimate goal is to build a list, so you must try to influence new subscriptions wherever you can. If you have a physical place of business somewhere out there, keep signup forms at the counter or cash register. If you do your stumping online, make your website the prime destination for subscribing to your list. Don’t stop there. Use the social networks and industry gatherings you attend as opportunities to grow your list. From signing up to getting out, make the process easy to manage for the subscriber and they will make things easier on you by keeping your spam complaints to a minimum.

Opt-in email marketing shows your audience that you respect their privacy. Many of the people in their inbox do not. It is a simple gesture that not only keeps them off your back, but also improves your reputation and enhances your potential for success. Do it right and it can make all the difference for your brand.