The situation with contact data and opt-in email marketing reminds an anecdote: in city X, they sold 50,000 baseball bats, but only 2 baseball balls.
There is no marketing or email service provider, who would not require explicit opt-in or subscribe to email communication. It became a standard that is not only reducing an amount of spam, but also making email marketing an efficient channel. On the other hand, there are hundreds of companies, large and tiny, offering data of all kind (e.g. Gartner report). So you can buy a list of any titles and company profiles with names, addresses, emails, phones, but you can’t send them a single email before they subscribe.
There is a perception of a certain gap. CAN-SPAM is very lenient in comparison with the legislature in other countries – it allows sending commercial emails without permission though there are some requirements like mandatory unsubscribe link and street address. At the same time “cold” blasting is definitely considered as a poor practice (a great article on why it is so), which leads to bad emailing reputation and decreasing effectiveness.
And while marketing automation experts are arguing about single vs. double opt-in, providing materials, instructions and tips on putting Subscribe button into a right place of a website, their users are discussing on customer forums which best data providers they are working with. That is for data enriching, cleansing or appending? Hopefully. But let’s admit: do we like it or not, cold emailing is still is use.
Shifting from blasting to opting-in might take much longer time and more efforts than it seems. What keeps old school opt-out emailing alive?
- Short term vs. long term perspective. Is a situation when a marketer has to generate a challenging amount of leads and pipeline, there might be no time for growing the subscription list. Results by all means, today and now, is not a good approach for great results tomorrow.
- Isolated roles of marketing professionals, when lead gen, social, email, content, product etc. marketers are functioning separately. Permission marketing needs team work, joint efforts of multiple parties; it is a certain mindset and processes. If your email marketer is just an internal service provider receiving and executing tasks (“send this to those”), a question about opt-in might not be even raised.
- Lack of intelligence (A/B testing, collecting data, segmentation, predictive analytics, etc). The information might be stored in different databases, departments and servers; integration of the data might become a separate imposing project.
- High profile and/or very specific, niche target audience. They are hardly accessible, their attention is very expensive. Send an email is just a shortcut through the long journey of reaching out to them and acquiring their permission.
So what actions might be done to move to permission email marketing:
- Advocate for opt-in: explain, research for best practices, observe the industry leaders’ standards, compare with benchmarking data (e.g. Silverpop report).
- Prove efficiency: test opt-in and opt-out emailing, compare the results and share with your team.
- Increment opt-in option in all existing processes and practices, use it as a chance of getting new data and insight on your target audience.
- Involve your team members to achieve better synergy: social media can promote email subscription while email can promote social profiles of the company; drive traffic to the website, then to a subscription page, then via email to landing pages, microsites, and other resources.
- Develop a plan of shifting and stick to it, think big, but start small.