What adds edge to a permission e-mail?

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Like religion or politics at a dinner party, mentioning permission at a gathering of e-mail marketing professionals can be a fast way to get a lively conversation going. Some will suggest that permission - however they define it - is paramount. Others will say that permission doesn't matter at all or that you don't even really need it.

The truth is that permission is the wave of the past. But that actually doesn't mean that permission doesn't matter today. It's just that it matters in a completely different way.

Whereas being a double opt-in mailer in 1999 conferred automatic good-guy status on your program, it doesn't today. You can triple opt-in your list and still be a spammer in the eyes of e-mail recipients and Internet service provider gatekeepers. Conversely, single opt-in - or, even opt-out - doesn't automatically make you evil.

So what does matter? Relevance. Sending good, high-value targeted e-mails to the right people at the right time.

How do you do that? Well, permission is part of it. It's the first step, in fact. How you get it, how you honor it - all these are important elements in setting expectations for subscribers and set the stage for a great relationship.

But then the hard work begins. Who are these subscribers? What are they interested in? How does your e-mail help make them smarter, thinner, happier, more successful? Answering those questions is the key to getting them to see your e-mail as something they want to receive.

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