Welcome to the second post in a week long series explaining how to give your eDM the best chance at great ROI. Today we look at how to acquire email addresses – the right way.

1. Understanding ISPs as a meta-audience
2. Acquiring email addresses – the right way
3. Do the inside work
4. Content is king
5. Spam flags


Rates of return on email campaigns correspond directly to the quality of email recipients. If your organisation harbours any old notions of buying mass mailing lists and sending out vast, indiscriminate marketing pitches via email, blow those notions up now! In this era of permission-based marketing, it’s critical that your audience opt-in to receive the information from you. Make opting-in very easy with highly visible single-click options – and unsubscribing should be that easy too.

To make sure you’re acquiring email addresses the right way, follow these four guidelines:

  1. Send email only to those who have opted in. Again, the idea is simple: people are overloaded but they will generally read what they’ve asked for.
  2. Obtain opt-in permission via common methods. These include single opt-in, double opt-in, or confirmed opt-in. Be sure your marketing automation provider delivers the tools to easily track who asked for what and when. Not only is this critical to communicate effectively with customers, but you can learn a lot about how to influence them by noticing their communication preferences. Remember that you cannot send email to customers requesting permission to send them email.
  3. Do not purchase or rent mailing lists. Beware the spam trap! Found in most purchased or rented lists, spam traps are ‘triggered’ to cause email to be treated as spam. Having such a trigger in your mailing list is a red flag for ISPs. The quality of purchased or rented lists is unverifiable, even from providers who say they’ve gotten people to opt in, so they are better avoided. Some ISPs will also have what is known as ‘Honey Pot Traps’ these are email addresses that the ISPs are aware have been inactive for at least 12 months and therefore they may consider emails to those accounts as spam.
  4. Always be up-front. State clearly what the contact is opting in for. After gaining their permission, the credibility of your brand and the quality of their customer experience hinges in part on giving them what they thought they were receiving. Do not be misleading.