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Martin Cogburn


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    Getting Permission To Email

    About Permission to Email

    Applies to: All ONTRAPORT accounts.

    ONTRAPORT is a permission based marketing platform when it comes to email. It’s a strict policy but it’s the reason our delivery rocks!

    What is Permission?

    Permission means that someone has specifically requested to receive email from you about a particular subject, and is expecting it.

    Why is Having Permission to Mail Important?

    It's important because if you don't have the kind of permission that we've defined here, people will mark your message as spam which constitutes a complaint. When that happens too often, the Internet Service Providers (ISPs, like Yahoo, AOL, etc.) will quickly stop accepting email from our IP addresses. In order to avoid that fate, we watch your delivery results like a hawk and will pull the plug on your account as soon as we see a problem.

    In addition, we're starting to see 3rd party services monitor and store reputation data not on our IPs (domain reputation monitoring), but on the domains that you're advertising in your emails. That is, your domain. This means is that if you abuse email, you're not only ruining our reputation but the reputation of your own website. And that sticks with you no matter where you email from.

    What Can I Send via Email?

    You have permission to send only what your contacts specifically requested to receive. If they asked to get your monthly newsletter but you then send them daily product pitches, they're gonna complain. If they asked to get your seven day e-course on how to weave baskets underwater, but then you send them weekly promotions on scuba gear for the next three years, you'll get complaints.

    I know this seems like a drag, but it's the state of the union in the world of email nowadays. If people complain, you're going to see your delivery rates drop not just for complainers but for ALL your email.

    Does Permission Expire?

    Yes it does. If people lose interest or forget who you are, they’re now receiving emails they don’t want which with enough emails like that from many sources causes someone to switch email providers. This is what ISPs strive to avoid.

    So the industry made a definition: spam is 'email they don't want'. And we figure that if you have permission (by our definition above), you'll mostly be sending email people want. That is, until they don't want it anymore, which means you’ve now lost permission.

    2 ways to avoid losing permission over time

    • If they haven't opened or clicked an email from you in 4 or 6 months, they're probably done with you. Prune them.
    • Add a permission reminder to the top of all your emails, reminding them why they're getting your email and how they can remove themselves.

    What is a Permission Reminder?

    You've seen permission reminders before in emails you've received. They typically go something like...

    'You're receiving this email at [your email address] because you requested to hear from us. If you don't want to anymore, you can unsubscribe here.'

    Permission reminders serve two purposes:

    1. To remind the recipient where you got their email address so they're presumably less inclined to report you for spamming and...
    2. If they DO report you, to prove to the authority that's about to render judgment upon you that despite the complainer's click-of-the-spam-button, you are NOT a spammer and in fact did have permission to email.

    A good permission reminder is friendly, specific, and provable.

    Friendly: This means just what it sounds like. Don't say things like 'this email is not spam and conforms to all applicable federal laws including the Can-Spam Act of 2003.' That's not friendly, it's combative.

    Specific: This means that the way you got the permission you claim to have is specific to this specific recipient. That is, don't write 'You're getting this email because of your relationship with our company.' Instead, be specific: 'You're receiving this email because when you downloaded our whitepaper, you opted to subscribe to our newsletter.' Or, 'You're receiving this because when you checked out of our online store, you also requested to receive occasional offers and sales notices. If you'd like to stop receiving them, please unsubscribe.'

    Provable: This means that, if asked, you could prove that you actually got the permission you claim to have. This prevents us from potentially getting blacklisted if someone were to report your emails to a 3rd party enforcer.

    If this were to happen, and you used an ONTRAPORT form for the opt in, we have all the information already. If you need it, check the Contact Log and Automation Log in their Contact Record for details of their opt in.

    For contacts you add via the API or import, you will need the information saved to provide to authorities if asked. That means a date and time, IP address submitting the opt in, and the form name and URL. If you can't provide that we reserve the right to terminate your account under our zero tolerance spam policy.

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