6 Levels of Permission-Based Email: Marketers Find More Than Six Degrees of Separation Between Double Opt-in and Opt-out Lists

Asked not once, not twice, but three times if they genuinely want to learn more about Lenny Clarke’s comedy and other events coming to the Palace Theatre in Manchester, N.H., more than 28,000 patrons say yes, they really do.

Peter Ramsey, president and CEO of the theater, says during the past seven years, the Palace has been collecting email addresses from ticket holders then verifying their opt-ins twice, “so we’d get it right.”

Email notifications sent out to the list also include segmentations, such as the one for Clarke’s performance. Two weeks before the comedian took the stage, 7,000 Palace patrons who’d indicated their interest in comedy learned about Clarke’s August 2011 performance. Then, a week ahead of time, a smaller listing about Clarke’s stand-up reached the full list. Ramsey believes the email efforts have helped make the theater, which had closed its doors a decade ago, become a true success today. Because of the theater’s database of valid email addresses, the 900-seat venue can host 180 events a year and is able to attract newsletter sponsors and advertisers.

Ramsey is doing it right, says his email vendor, Elyse Tager. Permission-based email marketing is always the best choice, says the regional development director, San Francisco/Silicon Valley, for Waltham, Mass.-based email marketing software provider Constant Contact.

But where she and other email marketing advisors differ is on whether single- or double-opt in is preferable for conversions. The only outlier appears to be the Welsh government and its proposed organ donation policy—but more on that opt-out discussion later. First, suggestions for permission-based lists come from Tager and:

1. Getting consumers to opt-in once seems to have the most strenuous backing from these advisors—even from Tager. While the Palace Theatre is a success story, it’s true, Ramsey’s practice of triple opt-in is a bit much for most organizations, Tager says. “My recommendation is to always use the single opt-in process,” she says. “You definitely want to know that there is some level of interest and commitment.” As for the extra opt-in, she says: “The double effort can further differentiate your company’s credibility and trustworthiness. For most companies and industries, I feel this is overkill, and you run the great risk of losing many potential customers by being too cautious.”

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.
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