Where did I come from? Providing meaningful permission reminders

A few weeks ago, we tipped our hat to Panic software’s inventive permission reminder email. It sure got us yaddering about a number of unique techniques and tactics, however, there was one simple line that many emails include, yet often get wrong:

{title}

Letting the email recipient know how they joined the list may seem really simple and straightforward, however unless you give it a little thought, it can go all circular. For example, here’s an incorrect (yet very common) permission reminder message:

You are receiving this email from ABC Widgets because you signed up for the ABC Widgets mailing list.

Well, yes, that’s totally the reason why I’m getting the email, but where did I sign up for the ABC Widgets’ list in the first place?

Last year, we covered how to capture and display the source of your subscribers. Apart from being nice to know from an analytics point of view, having this information handy is very useful for permission reminder messages.

Making it clear and visible in your email as to where your recipients signed up is best practice, especially if you don’t send email on a regular basis. For example, each month, our newsletter list grows by roughly 10%. That means that 10% of our subscribers are receiving our newsletter for the first time. If you sign up at the beginning of our cycle, then don’t receive an email for 4 weeks, there’s a good chance you’ve forgotten about us, right? Hopefully not, but here’s some clarification as to why you’re hearing from our team:

{title}

So in essence, an appropriate permission message is something like:

You are receiving this email because you signed up via our [source].

The result: Less spam complaints and more trust towards you as an email sender. Like with a lot of email techniques, one line can make all the difference.

Posted by Ros Hodgekiss

6 Comments

  • indie_preneur
    10th March

    Great point. It’s amazing how many times I would probably (emphasis on probably) not opt-out of an email is if I was told why I’m getting this AND how I got on this list. As active as we all are online, it’s almost impossible to remember every list we join, so why not help everyone remember.

  • Bart
    10th March

    Additionally you could tell which e-mail address has been used to subscribe. Because of forwarding capabilities, address plussing and catch-all addresses it is sometimes unclear to which e-mail address the newsletter has been send and thus impossible to unsubscribe.

  • Peter Wagner
    29th March

    What is the best way to enter this data? For example, 5 people at a specific conference asked me to subscribe them. Storing the conference name would be a great reminder of when they asked to be on the list. But the admin interface for bulk subscribers doesn’t handle extra fields.

  • Stig Morten Myre
    30th March

    @Peter If you import subscribers from a CSV file instead, you can add an extra column to the file with this data.

    When the file is imported, you can choose (or create) a custom field to import this column into.

  • Peter Wagner
    31st March

    @Stig. Ahah. Great tip. Thanks.  If you ever add this to the web interface, I’ll be thrilled. Making CSV files is a lot of work for non-technical people and a lot of extra steps for the small imports that the web interface excels at.

  • Mathew Patterson
    22nd April

    Peter, just for future reference creating a CSV is really super simple - all you really need is to create a normal text file. If you can type a comma, you’ve got all the skills you need!

    Peter, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), Widget Conference

    If you pasted the line above into Notepad and saved it as list.csv, you’d have a perfectly valid CSV file to import into your list.

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