The Power of Permission in Using Email Marketing

Emarketer reports that:

“Interactive marketing is becoming a larger part of the marketing mix, and Forrester estimates that by 2016, online advertising spend will be equivalent to television spend today. Marketers will spend $77 billion on interactive marketing by 2016.”

email marketing

According to StrongMail’s annual marketing trends survey, conducted by Zoomerang, the majority (68%) of business executives worldwide said they plan to integrate their social media marketing efforts with email in 2012.

I remember back in 2007-8, when I first launched my business, I was running several workshops dedicated to email marketing and integrating it with social media, especially Facebook. I had a cross section of attendees from lawyers, consultants, non-profits, MLN’s and blog hobbyists.  They thought it was a good idea, but most looked at me like a deer in the headlights. Fast forward to 2012, the cycle has moved to a different place with regard to adoption and the effective usage of it now.

The benefits of professional email marketing have been very strong and clear from the beginning. It was the very first platform I used to build my business database. It has experienced quite a resurgence, as we all can attest to the massive email marketing we get daily, many of which we did not subscribe to. (Ugh, it’s spam people.)

Benefits of Permission
When someone voluntarily signs up to become a part of your email marketing database, they are committing to you as a professional and are giving you “permission” to send them timely, helpful and relevant resources and information. This is the greatest way to grow and build trust . It is also a very targeted and effective way to ‘ask people  for their business’. There is great power and responsibility in permission based marketing, as long as you are using it appropriately and respecting your community.

Here are 5 ways to grow and build trust using email marketing:

1) Create a monthly Newsletter with specific themes and content that is thoughtful and highly targeted to what your followers need and want from you. Get to know who is on your list and why they joined it in the first place.

2) Be consistent with sending your message and campaign out monthly and find the best frequency and timing. Do not over kill your list with too many daily emails. More and more people are tuning out and unsubscribing  to those that over email, regardless of how popular they are.

3) Offer content especially for this community that other people do not have access too that are NOT on the list. Let your community know how exclusive they are to you and how much you want to serve their specific needs.

4) Integrate your email marketing campaign into all your other platforms. Unify the message across your social media, blog, websites, podcasting, video and mobile. Make sure your visual logo, look and feel are consistent over all your platforms.

5) “Serving is the New Selling’ should be your approach and mantra. Giving lots of FREE WHY, then SELLING the HOW is a perfect formula. We are in it to make money right? Yes, but earning the business by building strong relationships and using the trust to sell your products and services is why they choose you and ensures more longevity in customer retention.

Make a commitment to one of the professional email marketing systems like Constant Contact, which has been mine since 2007, or several other great choices like IConnect, Aweber and Mail Chimp.

Email marketing has been one of the top platforms that I will continue to use. My list grew over 30% last year nationally and internationally. It has allowed me a more personal, direct and exclusive way to communicate to and with “my tribe” and serve them.

Email Marketing Photo via Shutterstock


Deborah Shane Deborah Shane has been recognized as a Top 100 Small Business Champion and Top 50 SMB Influencer (Dunn and Bradstreet 2015). She is a career transition author, personal branding and social media specialist. Deborah's book "Career Transition: Make the Shift" is available through all major book sellers.

47 Reactions
  1. Great post, Deborah. I think businesses will be wise to keep “informational marketing” in mind when they’re developing their email marketing and even social marketing strategies. Figure out how to deliver content that informs, in addition to sells, and this will strengthen their existing marketing list.

    John Sternal

  2. John, thanks for stopping by and your input! Content marketing is the new selling yourself. Give and you will stand out and make a connection.

  3. Great tips Deborah… Email marketing is instrumental in my business.

    It’s the nicest thing, closest to push button money ever!


  4. Razor, thanks. I have found it to be a very personal approach and it can be customized for different lists.

  5. Martin Lindeskog


    What’s MLN’s?

    I am ready to start my newsletter after I have finished reading The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing by Eric Groves. I will print out your post and have it as a guide for my first issue.

  6. Video email–which can run the range from one-offs to certain prospects/contacts to video embedded in a Constant Contact-style enewsletter to entirely video-based email campaigns–helps give email marketing efforts a personal touch.

    The Interactice Advertising Bureau found that traditional email gets about 8 seconds’ worth of attention, while video email gets 96 seconds. That’s a big advantage–worth looking into if you want to strengthen email marketng campaigns.

    Lea with OpenMyVideo

  7. Martin, it’s MLM, multi level marketers. Go for it and pull the rigger. Refine as you do it!

  8. Lea, I couldn’t agree more. Video is on the boom. I am integrating it into my CC email newsletter starting this month. The trick is short, to the point, 60-90 seconds for that application.

  9. Hi Deborah,
    Thanks so much for the valuable tips. I have a question – what would you say separates email services like Constant Contact or Vertical Response from those more like Aweber or Mail Chimp (if anything)?

    Thanks again.

    • Wow I feel like you are interviewing me, with that picture! The email marketing services are all doing a pretty good job. I would say that Constant Contact, Aweber have integrated some really awesome event, auto-responder and social media value and aspects. It really depends on your marketing goals. Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Email is definitely a great way to expand your business. Like you said, however, is that the magic is in the permission. You have to take the time to make sure people not only want what you have to offer, but they have to have it! Running your business this way is not only more profitable, but more enjoyable. Tell stories, be yourself, don’t try to hide behind the keyboard. You don’t have to be a great writer to be a great email marketer. Thanks for sharing!

    • Dennis, indeed you don’t have to be a great writer to be a master email marketer! Well said! Just tell the story and have something to say that can help.

  11. Hello Deborah ~ Hope I find you well
    Excellent post Deborah. Adopting the new mantra “Serving is the New Selling” is definitely the way forward ~ thanks for sharing.

  12. Hello Deborah,
    As a blogger having an email list is a must. I only want people to subscribe to my email newsletter who are interested in me and what I have to offer.

    My unsubscribe rate is really good and I hope that it stays that way.

    • Bravo to you Justin! That’s the way it should be. Not sure why people think it’s ok to put me on their lists that I didn’t give them permission to and have no relationship with.

  13. Can you recommend some resources (blogs, sites, etc.) which provide some helpful thoughts on (e)mailing list building strategies? I’m looking for some hints other than just the good ol “join our mailing list” form. Thanks!

    • Lori, email me directly for some resources but start with this site, Constant Contact tutorial section, Social Media Today, Agreed some creative ways are good but put the best practices in place, grow your “tribe” and communicate with them frequently with value and solid info. Thank you!

  14. Deborah,

    I know about multi level marketing (MLM). It was spelled MLN, that’s why I asked about the acronym! 😉 I am involved in company that combines social media with network marketing and e-commerce. It is on its way to become an integrated platform as described in Phil Simon’s book, The Age of the Platform.

    Thanks again for a great post on how to use permission (marketing à la Seth Godin’s term) marketing in a good way! 🙂

    • Where was MLN in the article Martin? Love Godin but he didn’t invent that term. Permission is a fundamental etiquette term in all of social media/new media marketing!

  15. Deborah, this is a really useful reminder to me. I have only had my site up for about 10 weeks and the Optin form even less. So I only have about 12 people on my list.But I have been wracking my brains thinking of how often and what to send them.

    Obviously a blatant call for a sale this early is too much so I’ve just been reminding them every 10 days or so what new posts I’ve put up on the site. I have also sent them and posted what I think they may be interested in…

    Thanks again for good content.

    Best Wishes
    Andy Moore

    • Andy, talk about what you do and how it has helped people. Become a resource. You can post your email NL to your social media and invite people to join if they like it! Always offer something of value.. Tips, white paper, 15 minutes with you. Think about your target and how to serve them with this platform.

  16. Rosyel Sawali (raincrystal)

    Thank you for such helpful tips, Deborah! Now I can work on improving my own e-mail series. Happy new year! ^_^


  17. Thanks Deborah. I just had a conversation with a client today about email marketing and the use of newsletters to make contact – and share valuable information – with her clients. Her first response was ‘oh no, who read’s emails anymore’… well I do and so do a whole bunch of people as long as the topic is interesting and the sender is reliable/trustworthy. I’m going to send her to this post to read more about how permission-based email marketing programs are designed to be effective.

    P.S. Actually, I got to this post through an email from Click Brief (a topic aggregator) (I signed up for their emails) – so emails do work!

    • Kris, email marketing went through a cycle a couple of years ago, but it is back with a vengance and effective as ever! Coach your client to do it right from the beginning!

  18. Joshua Castagnet

    Good article.

    In it, you said “…find the best frequency and timing.”

    I’m curious. What is your frequency and how did you arrive at that? What was your strategy?

    Thank you.

    • Joshua, this has been a work in progress. At least 2x per month and sometimes weekly if it’s important, timely and has a purpose that serves them.The consistency and purpose are key. Thank you!

  19. Nice post, Deborah. You provided some basic useful tips for everyone who want to start their business online today. I really appreciate it.

    Thank you

  20. eMail marketing certainly reached its peak in the marketing mix prior to 2010, then it seems SPAM and too many eMails pushed “unsubscribes” to all-time highs and eMail as an effective medium somewhat fell out of the mix (i.e. the comment from Kris’ client a good example). I’m seeing a refreshing surge, where, as your article mentions, value-add meaningful content is key and blended with other social media customer touch points can truly boost the effectiveness of an integrated marketing program. We used it for a quarterly eNewsletter and our customer database grew by 30% inside of one year. Also had good results with webinar offers.

    • Gail, it speaks of integrated marketing and using and blending these tools and platforms with consistently creative and effective ways to engage and deliver. Great points!

  21. Jenni, I am so glad you stopped by and it helped in some way! Go get em this year!

  22. Thanks for the great tips. Hope to see more.

  23. Who said that email marketing is dead?
    I remember during the start of search engine marketing I have encountered blogs about email marketing being dead because of the emergence of search marketing and other interactive marketing campaigns. However, I didn’t agree with that. Still, I believe that email marketing is as effective as it was. Its only a matter of having or creating your strategy. Its the best way to directly send your business information to your prospect. Best if you integrate your email marketing campaign with search marketing or interactive campaigns or even telemarketing to have a successful marketing campaign.

  24. Thanks, Deborah for sharing the article. According to a survey, Digital research firm eMarketer measures the ROI of email marketing at 4300% and it converts at a rate three times higher than social media. The important part of email marketing is ensuring you have permission to send email campaigns to individuals. Marketers are getting the right to enjoy an open and CTRs on their email campaigns and able to manage crucial levels of sales and revenue from their email marketing creative.

  25. Thanks for the repost on your site!