Inbox Insider: Don't make e-mail opt in a requirement

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Asking consumers for their e-mail addresses is a great way to start relationships, build profiles, track on-site behavior and send follow-up messages. However, requiring an e-mail address is sometimes a roadblock for consumers, who might not feel like sharing and move on.

For e-mail marketing company Mailer Mailer, giving up the requirement was instrumental in increasing white paper downloads, according to David Meerman Scott, author of World Wide Rave, in his keynote at SES New York on March 23. This, in turn, led to more blog posts about the content, which increased the company's search ratings, he said.

It's nice to get customers to opt in, but it can also turn shoppers off. I've shopped on some retail sites for friends and family, but have turned away when an e-mail address was required. I much prefer buying from a site that lets me shop as a guest and doesn't require long sign-up forms or e-mail opt-ins.

If a consumer is there and interacting with your brand, there is no reason to turn him or her away by requiring an e-mail address as the cost of admission. If the customer wants to know more, he will opt in himself.

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