email opt in best practices“Responsible consumer marketers have adopted an ‘opt-in’ email policy for determining who receives their marketing messages,” writes Ruth Stevens at the Harvard Business Review blog. Unless customers give … permission to contact them, the marketer leaves them alone.”

While this works well in B2C environments, argues Stevens, B2B marketers—and their customers—are actually better served by an opt-out policy. Take, for instance, the exchange of business cards at a tradeshow. “Does that exhibitor have permission to contact you by email?” she asks. “Of course. You fully expect to receive email (or phone, or postal mail) follow-up. That’s how you stay informed, build relationships, and do your job.”

But what if you start receiving irrelevant content or too many messages? “You’ll opt out,” she reasons. “At that point, you expect the marketer to honor your request and remove you from the emailing list.” A preference center that manages opt-in subscriptions can just as easily handle their opt-out counterparts, she notes.

Stevens makes her case with the example of Cisco—a major B2B company that adopted an opt-in policy early in the game. “Today,” she notes, “Cisco only has email addresses for 45% to 50% of its customers around the world. Of these, only 29% opted in to receive communications. As a result, Cisco can only hope to reach 14% of its customers by email.” It’s a sobering thought for any email marketer.

Careful with those options. Your B2B customers might not expect—or even want—a strict opt-in email policy; consider just making it clear to them that they can opt out at any time.

Source: Harvard Business Review blog.