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Taking Permission

Laura Atkins

Permission is always a hot topic in email marketing. Permission is key! the experts tell us. Get permission to send email! the ISPs tell us.

Marketers have responded by setting up processes to "get" permission from recipients before adding them to mailing lists. They point to their privacy polices and signup forms and say "Look! the recipient gave us permission."

In many cases, though, the permission isn't given to the sender, permission is taken from the recipient.

Yes, permission is being TAKEN by the sender. At the point of address collection many senders set the default to be the recipient gets mail. These processes take any notion of giving permission out of the equation. The recipient doesn't have to give permission, permission is assumed.

This isn't real permission. No process that requires the user to take action to stop themselves from being opted in is real permission. A default state of yes takes the actual opt-in step away from the recipient.

Permission just isn't about saying "well, we told the user if they gave us an email address we'd send them mail and they gave us an email address anyway." Permission is about giving the recipients a choice in what they want to receive. All too often senders take permission from recipients instead of asking for permission to be given.

By Laura Atkins, Founding partner of anti-spam consultancy & software firm Word to the Wise
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Related topics: Privacy, Spam
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