Speaking The Opt-In Language

“Talk to me.”

Just three little words. Taken out of context, they don’t mean much. However, if I (the consumer) utter them to you (the marketer) in some way, shape or form, you’d better believe you’re going to take action… that is, if you truly value what I’m saying.

And isn’t that what the term “opt-in” really boils down to – value?

For instance, if I (as consumer again) find value in FranklinCovey.com’s email update service, then I’ll opt-in to receive it. On the other hand, the service has little value to my boyfriend (mainly because he’s a Daytimer fan) so he won’t go for it. Elementary example, I know… but you get the picture.

Value AND permission… with a little “push” thrown in. Makes for a well-seasoned recipe for email marketing success.

Despite that fact, however, there are still plenty of marketers who don’t follow these most basic of rules. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve logged onto a site and entered my email address so I could get (what’s supposed to be) one-time-only info on a certain subject, product, etc., only to be thereafter bombarded with junk. Worse yet, the offending sites posted neither a disclaimer nor did they ask THE question to which I could respond yay or nay.

(Note to offending sites: Just because I have an interest in ONE of your offers, don’t think that you have license to solicit to me over and over again. Don’t think it for a second.)

Unless, of course, I agree to it.

So, how do we marketers go about getting – and keeping – that oh-so-desirable affirmative response? The answer is simple: If you’re gonna walk the walk, you’d better be prepared to talk the talk. In other words, speak in the language of opt-in.

Better put, it means your offer had better be crystal-clear.

There are plenty of opportunities where marketers can – and should – speak the “lingo.” Take the aforementioned Franklin Covey site.

In my opinion, they do a bang-up job of letting me know what I’m getting myself into. First of all, they tell me right up front that they will “keep me informed about their new products, services, special offers and training programs as they become available.” They also tell me that this service is exclusively for their email customers and that it’s customized to match my “unique needs.”

Sounds good, so I sign up to their “Special Offers” and “New Product Info” updates. And, just in case I forget to order my planner refills, I sign up to the reminder service as well. The language is unequivocal: They will not release my information to third parties AND instructions for removal come with every email. Beautiful.

The confirmation page then tells me that a personalized email newsletter has been created to match my interests and that I should look for a confirmation email to arrive “momentarily.”

When it comes (as promised), it gives me yet another opportunity to unsubscribe. Best of all, I find the service to be exactly what was promised.

I am now, in Franklin Covey’s eyes, the ultimate email prospect… ripe for the pickin.’ Let’s reexamine why…

  1. As a Franklin planner aficionado, the service is of interest to me; therefore it has value.

  2. I was duly informed of what I would be receiving.
  3. They made it clear as to what THEIR responsibilities will be.
  4. I said “Yes.”
  5. They now know they can “talk to me” again and again over time. (That is… until I say “Stop.”) And they give me plenty of opportunities to do just that.

Therein lie the main ingredients to create a true, 100 percent opted-in prospect. Nothing more, nothing less. Yes, you CAN build an opt-in list of folks who have little or no interest in your offer (as in when you collect prospect information by offering an incentive), but is that what you really need on your list? Someone whose sole motivation is the remote possibility of winning a Palm Pilot? How long do you think that person will stick around and “listen” to what you have to say?

Better to separate the wheat from the chaff sooner than later. Begin by building your list of prospects now but do it slowly and with care. Make sure your list is made up of folks who have a true interest in what you offer.

And always, always give them every opportunity (and make it easy for them) to opt OUT.

Soon, you’ll find yourself with a list of bonafide prospects that have reached out to you with open arms and shouted, “Talk to me!”

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