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What is Permission Based Email Marketing?

N.M. Shanley
N.M. Shanley

Companies that send promotional emails only to those customers who have requested to receive such correspondence practice permission based email marketing. These customers must opt-in, or request, to get on these email distribution lists. Opt-in email advertising campaigns generally have higher open and conversion rates than unsolicited bulk emails.

The open rate is the ratio of the number of emails opened, compared with the total number of emails that were sent. The conversion rate is the number of sales that were completed as a result of the email campaign, compared to the number of emails opened by customers. Both types can be used to track various kinds of information.

Permission-based email marketing allows recipients to opt in to receive messages, so the emails are not considered spam.
Permission-based email marketing allows recipients to opt in to receive messages, so the emails are not considered spam.

Unsolicited emails, known as SPAM, do not get good response rates, and are deemed annoying by many consumers. Such emails can also ruin a company’s image. In the United States, SPAM was made illegal by Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003.

Permission based email marketing is much cheaper than producing a direct mail campaign that must be printed and mailed. Email campaigns are also highly targeted, which can lead to better response rates. With permission-based emails, the company is marketing only to consumers who specifically asked to receive information about the company’s products.

Companies can build their own opt-in email lists, or purchase an email blast service from another company. Email blast service providers send emails only to consumers who have asked to receive various promotional emails based on their individual interests. Many providers focus solely on providing opt-in advertising emails to other companies. This gives permission based email marketing users various options to increase sales for a relatively low cost.

Companies often use a double opt-in system to increase permission based email marketing campaign results. In a double opt-in system, the customer asks to receive promotional emails and provides an email address. A confirmation email is sent to the customer with an activation link. When the customer opens the email and clicks on the link, the customer is subscribed to the email list.

The double opt-in procedure helps ensure that is was in fact the customer who provided the email address. It also reminds the customer that they subscribed to the email list. This reminder helps the customer determine that emails received in the future are not unsolicited bulk emails. This reminder helps increase open rates.

Another way companies can improve permission based email marketing campaign results is by including free value-added information in the emails. For example, a food company can include barbeque recipes along with an offer to save on its new barbeque sauce. The added information gives the email recipients information they can use whether or not they are in the market for a new sauce.

While this may not result in an immediate sale, the email created goodwill with the customer by providing free information. This will entice the customer to open future emails. One of those emails may lead to a sale.

Companies communicate the contents of the email in the subject line. The subject line must give the recipient a reason to open the email. The content of the email must be related to the subject line. Usually, customers who feel they were tricked into opening an email will not make a purchase.

It’s also important, and required by the CAN-SPAM Act, for the company to provide information on how to be unsubscribed from permission based email marketing list. This information, along with the company’s contact information, should be included in every email. Making the unsubscribe process easy for the customer will create good will for the company as well.

Discussion Comments


@Melonlity -- that strategy only works if you use that newsletter or something else distributed by email to provide information to your customers that they might find useful.

Otherwise, you will annoy even those who subscribed to your email list. No one wants to be badgered with a barrage of information that isn't useful to them.


A very effective use for permission based email marketing is to put a link on your Website inviting people to subscribe. With so many companies using the Internet to compete with customers, standing out from the pack is essential to survival.

If you are in sales, you know one of the things essential to your success is getting in front of people. You know, reminding them of what services or goods you offer. A newsletter sent through a permission based email list will both do that and avoid badgering people with unsolicited SPAM.

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    • Permission-based email marketing allows recipients to opt in to receive messages, so the emails are not considered spam.
      By: adimas
      Permission-based email marketing allows recipients to opt in to receive messages, so the emails are not considered spam.