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When and Why Did I Subscribe to Your Emails?

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by: Loren McDonald (@LorenMcDonald)
06 January 2009

Mark Brownlow of the blog "Email Marketing Reports" had a great post recently ("What you say ... what you communicate") about companies that use justification language in their emails.

Examples Mark cites include:

"You have received this email because you expressed interest in our products in the past."

"This is NOT SPAM."

"This email is sent in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003."

I couldn't agree more with Mark that many marketers who use "justification" sentences like these are in a way saying that, in fact, their emails probably are spam.

If your emails are truly permission-based and the opt-in process is completely transparent, why do you need to make the case that your emails are not spam or are wanted?

However, I also see this topic a bit differently than Mark. Like many people, I sign up for a lot of emails. They can look like spam when they finally show up—weeks later—from a brand or email address I no longer remember. In cases like this, reminding recipients why you're communicating with them is a best practice and will help to minimize spam complaints and lost subscribers.

Here are some quick tips to ensure your emails aren’t mistaken as spam by new subscribers:

  • Deploy a welcome email or, better yet, a welcome email program. One that starts within minutes after a subscriber opts in is probably your best means to ensure that new subscribers will remember they signed up for your emails.
  • Send your first email soon after a subscriber opts in. Make sure that new subscribers receive an email from you within a week, but preferably no later than a few days from opt-in. Consider that if you’re only sending a monthly newsletter, a number of your subscribers will not receive their first email from you for two, three or four weeks. Guaranteed, many will forget they subscribed—another reason why welcome emails are critical.
  • Include subscription information in your email administrative footer. Because people may still forget they opted in, I like to see the following included:
    • The email address used to subscribe
    • Date they opted in or were added to your list
    • The reason/circumstance of their opt-in: downloaded a white paper, signed up for news alerts, made a purchase, etc.

    For example, the subscription information portion of the footer might read as follows: "You signed up on January 5, 2009, using when you registered for our Webinar." Personalizing this sentence should be fairly easy, as the opt-in date and email address are usually captured automatically. The subscription "circumstance" will take a bit more work, but it’s fairly easy for your Webmaster to add a hidden field on your forms that describes the nature of the opt-in.




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