Relevance or Permission
One of the discussions that surrounds email marketing is whether relevance trumps permission or permission trumps relevance. I believe this entire discussion is built on a false dichotomy.
Sending relevant email is important. Not only do recipients expect mail to be relevant, but the ISPs often make delivery decisions on how relevant their users find your mail. Marketers that send too much irrelevant mail find themselves struggling to get inbox placement.
Permission makes sending relevant mail all that much easier. Sure, really good marketers can probably collect, purchase, beg, borrow and steal enough information to know that their unsolicited email is relevant. But how many marketers are actually that good?
My experience suggest that most marketers aren’t that good. They don’t segment their permission based lists to send relevant mail. They’re certainly not going to segment their non-permission based lists to send relevant mail.
Macy’s, for instance, decided that I would find their Bloomingdales mail relevant. I didn’t, and unsubscribed from both publications, after registering a complaint with their ESP. Had Macy’s asked about sending me Bloomies mail I wouldn’t have opted-in, but I probably wouldn’t have unsubbed from Macy’s mail, too.
So what’s your stand? Does relevance trump permission? Or does permission trump relevance? How much relevant, unsolicited mail do you get? How much irrelevant permission based mail do you get? And what drives you to unsubscribe from a permission based list?