Get known. Get invited. Build Relationships.
Remember the movie “A Night at the Roxbury?” Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan, resplendent in their colorful, silk suits, gold chains, and perfectly-teased hair, try to find a dance partner by gyrating their hips at any unwilling female they can find. Then, when rebuffed, they congratulate themselves and move on to the next dance partner (er, um – victim). Funny right!? As silly as this strategy is, it is not all that different from the approach many companies still use for their email programs.
The “Night at the Roxbury” boys failed in their attempt to win a dance partner each time because they were never “invited” in – rather they barged in assuming their “good looks” and smooth dance moves would win the ladies over. Is this any different than a flashy, yet uninvited email? Of course not!
The lesson is that it doesn’t matter how tasteful or appropriate you think your suit (or email) is, or how closely the nightclub (or list) matches your target, you’re not going to get a response unless you’re invited in. That's what makes permission marketing so powerful -- focusing on building and enhancing relationships.
In 2005 building strong email relationships is more important than ever since many email programs provide distinct deliverability and rendering advantages when the email sender’s from address is in the recipient's “address book” or “safe sender list.”
The benefits of having your email “from address” already in the recipient address book or safe sender list has taken on new importance with recent email software releases: AOL 9.0, Gmail, Hotmail, as well as Outlook 2003 and Outlook Express (when XP Service Pack 2 is installed). All of these programs have resorted to image suppression, and in some cases link suppression, for all “unknown” email senders. In most cases, however, they provide preferred delivery (often around filters) and display images and functioning links for all senders in the address book. The message? Get known. Get invited. Or, have your email moved to the “junk” folder or ignored.
How do you get invited to the dance? Here’s what I recommend to maximize your email delivery, display, and response:
- When you capture email subscribers on your Web site, add a note to the subscription “thank you page” asking your subscribers to add your email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to their address book.
- At the top of each email you send, remind the subscriber to add your email address to their “address book or safe sender list.”
- Always capture an opt-in for every subscriber and pay attention to click data to ensure your email content is driving interest with your readers.
With 20% - 50% of a typical email list being made up of AOL 9.0, Hotmail, or Outlook readers, paying attention to these tricks can have a real impact on your inbox delivery rates, email display, and readership.
P.S. - A special thanks goes out to Seth Godin, whose thoughts on "how to get married..." in his book “Permission Marketing” sparked the idea for this article.