An e-marketer’s job is already an all-consuming role, what with ensuring that one’s message is not considered as spam, reaches the right target audience, is opened and so on.

In his best-seller “Permission marketing”, Seth Godin states that companies can no longer rely exclusively on the traditional forms of what he calls “interruption marketing” in magazines, and commercials on radio and television, as consumers are overwhelmed by the constant bombardment of marketing messages and advocates instead, the asking for permission in advance.

He recommends grabbing Internet users’ attention first in order to ask them for permission and then feeding them with information shortly after. His philosophy is that if a customer dedicates his time at least once voluntarily to you, the way is paved to develop a long-term relationship and settle a deal.

For those who haven’t read Seth Godin’s popular book “Permission Marketing” yet, here are the key takeaways:

The Four Rules of Permission Marketing:

  1. Permission must be granted – it can’t be presumed. Buying addresses and sending direct mail are not permitted – that’s spam, and it’s likely to be ignored. Consumers don’t want to be bought and sold and then marketed to.
  2. Permission is selfish. People grant their permission only when they see that there’s something in it for them. And you’ve got about two seconds to communicate that something.
  3. Permission can be revoked as easily as it’s granted. It can also deepen over time. The depth of permission depends on the quality of interaction between you and your customers.
  4. Permission can’t be transferred. It’s a lot like dating. You can’t give a friend the authority to go out on a date in your place.

Don’t be amazed that permission doesn’t usually last for long as people have short memories. In fact, one research report showed that just under 5% of opt-ins will completely forget they signed up for your list within 30 days. The general rule of thumb is any name you haven't e-mailed in six months to a year has probably forgotten they ever gave you permission.

It’s also important to know if you ensuring that your opt-in process in not scaring off your would-be readers and subscribers. Take a moment to think about it: how much information do you really need to know NOW to move forward? It is crucial to remember that the less data you need to initiate a response, the better. So be economical.

Ask yourself the question: do you really need a physical address and postal code? This can usually be relegated to a second page, after sign-up has been accomplished up front, via email submission.

When you do create questions, make them relevant to both your audience and your offerings. One of the most common mistakes is that very often, organizations make their opt-in pages marketing research projects. Only ask questions you have a use for in your segmentation strategy.

It is also worth trying out the "tiered" opt-in process - that is, setting up over multiple pages.

For example:

  1. Lead with just an email address solicitation on the home page
  2. This then should lead the user to the next page for basic information
  3. Do further segmentation as necessary

The benefit: you gain your reader's trust, and you reduce his or her anxiety and fear.

In addition, remember to ensure that your opt-in page showcases high-quality graphics and clean design. Doing so adds credibility, elevates reader comfort level, and smoothes the way for continued communication.