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What to Do When Permission Goes Away

  |  January 31, 2011   |  Comments

Three out-of-the-box ideas that might help you communicate with consumers who are opting out of marketing messages.

Getting a consumer to opt in to your e-mail programs is like the Holy Grail for e-mail marketing. Not only does it indicate an interest in a brand or product, but it's also an indicator that the person who opted in wants to have a relationship with your company.

Today, as our world becomes increasingly mobile and socially-driven, we are starting to see a decrease in the standard opt-in initiatives, both from the consumer side and the business side.

More and more consumers are opting out of marketing messages on forms; choosing not to allow a service to access their data, and requesting their information be kept private.

For businesses, more and more changes are happening to streamline opt-in permission and even funnel them through aggregator services that offer single sign-on solutions or social networks.

This means that we, as marketers, need to be aware of this now and prepare our new strategies for success.

What do we do when permission as we know it goes away?

I was recently approached with this reality on an effort we have in market at my company. We found that a very high percentage of people were choosing not to opt in to our efforts when they engaged with us through a certain channel. We had to think fast and strategically to find another way to communicate with them to drive incremental purchases. Our awesome team came up with some really out-of-the-box ideas that might also help you kick-start your efforts. These included:

  • Using website search phrases to buy key phrases on SEM networks. Putting the brand back in front of users when they are looking for something they need is always helpful.
  • Leveraging banners where we typically go after new customers to showcase loyalty-based offers and reminders. These don't convert the new customers as well, but they certainly reach people who are familiar with our brand and need a reminder to buy, without building inbox excess.
  • Creating PR events (in the general market, or even through social efforts) that remind the user of the reasons they fell in love with our company in the first place. You will see this go live soon, so stay tuned.

Now, of course all of these efforts are bookended with an option and pleas for people to opt in to the brand itself. Our goals are still high in this area, but reality is setting in.

I encourage all of you to take a few minutes to revisit your opt-in percentages over time and ask yourself if now is the time to start testing out new waters.


Jeanniey Mullen

Jeanniey Mullen is the vice president of marketing at NOOK by Barnes and Noble, focused on business growth and customer acquisition.

Prior to her role at NOOKTM Jeanniey launched a wearables fashion technology company called Ringblingz. Before getting into the wearables business, Jeanniey was the chief marketing officer (CMO) of Zinio, where she grew the business by more than 427 percent, into one of the largest global digital newsstands. Other notable roles in her career include her involvement as the executive director and senior partner at OgilvyOne, where she led the digital Dialogue business and worked with Fortune 50 brands including IBM, Unilever, and American Express, and being a general manager at Grey Direct. At Grey Direct Jeanniey launched the first email marketing division of a global advertising agency. Prior to her time in advertising, Jeanniey spent seven years in retail leading a variety of groups from Consumer Relations and Operations, to Collections and Digital at JCPenney.

One of Jeanniey's favorite times in her career was when she founded the Email Experience Council (which was acquired by the Direct Marketing Association). Jeanniey is a recognized "Women in Business," a frequent keynote speaker, and has authored three books and launched a number of companies ranging from entertainment to technology and fashion.

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