Permission-Based Email Marketing: Why It’s Important (and Examples of Brands That Do it Well)
← Back to Blog Emil Kristensen

Permission-Based Email Marketing: Why It’s Important (and Examples of Brands That Do it Well)

Permission-Based Email Marketing [WordPress]

Permission-based email marketing, simply put, is where you initiate email communications only after someone has consented to receive content from you. 

It’s the opposite of using non-permission-based tactics like buying an email list or cold emailing people off of social media. 

You can think of it as the “up-and-up” approach to email, and it’s vital for not only staying on the good side of readers but for maximizing conversions. 

For this post, I’ll give some specific reasons why permission-based email marketing is important and show you what it looks like in action, offering multiple examples from brands that truly get it.

Let’s not waste any time. 

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Table of Contents

1. The Amazing Benefits of Permission-Based Emails Marketing 

2. Higher Email Open Rate

3. Increase Conversions

4. Better Sender Score

5. Strong Brand Reputation

6. Larger ROI

7. Examples of Brands That Have Completely Nailed Permission-Based Emails Marketing

The Amazing Benefits of Permission-Based Emails Marketing 

Only sending email to readers after they’ve given their consent is a win-win. Why? It ensures readers receive content they’re genuinely interested in and prevents any “feather-ruffling” on their end. 

We all know how annoying it is to receive unsolicited emails from companies you’ve never heard of. It’s the modern equivalent of a sleazy door-to-door salesman or telemarketer, and seldom does it lead to positive results. 

At best, unsolicited emails are quickly glossed over and forgotten. At worst, they greatly irk a reader, dissolve your brand reputation, and are added to spam lists. 

The EU’s GDPR has even taken steps to battle unwanted solicitation like this, and it could lead to fines and penalties at some point. It’s just not a good way to do business, and it’s something that can not only create a rift between you and your audience but a massive chasm. 

Permission-based email marketing, however, is a much better approach, with 77 percent of consumers saying they prefer this technique.

Permission-Based Email Marketing

And as for your brand, there are a ton of benefits, including the following. 

Higher Email Open Rate

Let’s start at the top. Permission-based emails are far more likely to be opened than non-permission-based emails. 

“Research shows that the average open rates for email campaigns to recipients who have given you permission to email them is around 30–40 percent.

The average open rate for non-permission-based emails? A measly 2 percent. Put yourself in the shoes of a reader for a second. Which email would you be more likely to open—a highly relevant, ultra-targeted email from a brand that you subscribed to, know, and trust? 

Take this email from Ray-Ban, for example. 

Permission-Based Email Marketing

Or, a sketchy, spammy, completely irrelevant email from a brand you’ve never heard of and certainly never subscribed to, like this?

Permission-Based Email Marketing

The first one, obviously. 

Permission-based email marketing instantly cranks up your open rate, which is the first step in getting readers to check out your offer. 

Increased Conversions

Needless to say, sending emails to people who actually want to receive them will lead to more click-throughs, and inevitably more conversions. It’s hard to get readers to even open unsolicited emails, much less get them to engage and buy. 

But strictly sending emails to readers who have expressed a clear interest in your brand massively increases the chances of them making a purchase. 

According to data from Campaign Monitor, the average click-through rate when you have permission is about 20 percent, whereas it’s only 0.2 percent when you don’t have permission. 

The numbers speak for themselves and really put the disparity in conversions into perspective. And here’s the thing. Once someone buys from you initially, they’re more likely to do it again and are more receptive to future emails. 

In fact, Michael Brenner of Marketing Insider Group writes that “almost half (46.1 percent) of email recipients open emails that are related to their purchase.”

Take this post-purchase email from Casper Sleep, for example. 

Permission-Based Email Marketing

It sets the stage for further engagement and additional purchases. That’s why getting permission is so crucial in the long run. 

Better Sender Score

Spam is a huge problem, and it accounts for an astonishing 45 percent of email content.

Permission-Based Email Marketing

Because it’s such an issue, major efforts have been taken to keep it in check, and there’s been a widespread crackdown on buying email lists. 

For instance, Corey Wainwright of HubSpot talks about how some purchased email lists contain something called a honeypot, “which is a planted email address that, when harvested and emailed, identifies the sender as a spammer. Similarly, things called spam traps can be created to identify spammy activity; they’re set up when an email address yields a hard bounce because it’s old or no longer valid, but still receives consistent traffic.”

So, if you use a non-permission-based email technique like buying a list, you run a far greater risk of lowering your sender score, which in turn, can lower your deliverability rate

But keeping things on the up-and-up and only sending email to readers who have given their consent has the opposite effect and should improve your sender score. 

This means that a higher percentage of your emails will ultimately reach their intended inbox. 

Strong Brand Reputation

And think of the long-term impact on your brand reputation. Annoying the pants off of people with unsolicited email is a surefire way to create friction and ill will.

But keeping things above board where you get permission means people are not only more receptive to your brand but more likely to become loyal customers and in some cases brand ambassadors.

This can lead to further engagement, more referrals, and less churn over time. 

Larger ROI

Finally, your money goes further with permission-based email marketing, with these campaigns having an average ROI of $38–$44 for every $1 spent

I couldn’t find any hard data on the average ROI of non-permission-based emails, but it’s safe to say that it would be significantly lower than this, as the open rate and click-through rate are microscopic. 

So, if you’re looking to get the most bang for your buck, getting consent before emailing is a no-brainer. 

Examples of Brands That Have Completely Nailed Permission-Based Emails Marketing

The key to succeeding with this strategy is to:

  1. Be crystal clear that leads will receive promotional content by giving you their email address; and 
  2. Create an offer that motivates people enough to do so. 

Here are some of the best examples I’ve come across from brands that have completely nailed it and have built rock-solid email lists of leads that are totally dialed in. 

1. Oribe

Permission-Based Email Marketing

Oribe is an award-winning haircare brand that sells products for “the hair-obsessed.”

I love their opt-in for three main reasons. 

  1. It’s ridiculously simple, with a beautiful minimalist aesthetic
  2. It’s ultra-transparent
  3. It succinctly highlights the benefits of signing up

At a glance, Oribe’s shoppers can figure out that it’s an opt-in form, and that by signing up, they’ll receive targeted emails in their inbox. It’s cut and dry, and there’s no wasted cognitive exertion.

And by specifically saying that subscribers gain access to new releases and promotions, Oribe makes signing up much more attractive.

Permission-Based Email Marketing

2. American Giant

Permission-Based Email Marketing

This is an American made clothing and activewear brand that uses simple, local, high-quality materials to create amazing products with workmanship their customers rave about. 

When it comes to permission-based email marketing, American Giant has got it on lock. It utilizes a classic popup that gets their shoppers’ attention without creating disruptions. 

It’s extremely straightforward where they immediately ask shoppers to sign up for their email list, which is exactly the type of “not beating around the bush” approach you want to take with shoppers. 

Permission-Based Email Marketing

There shouldn’t be any guesswork to figure out what you’re asking them to do, and it should be totally transparent. And when it comes to incentives, offering shoppers who sign up 15 percen off their next purchase is a pretty sweet deal that many people are receptive to. 

I also like how clear American Giant makes the offer, placing it in three different locations within the opt-in box—the headline, the copy, and the CTA. 

Permission-Based Email Marketing

That way they get things started out on the right foot with their shoppers, and zero subscribers will be caught off guard when they receive content from American Giant in their inbox. 

3. NueBar

Permission-Based Email Marketing

NueBar sells “plastic packaging free, pH balanced, shampoo, conditioner, and face and body bars.”

Browse their website and social media accounts, and you can quickly tell they’re well branded and have built a strong rapport with their audience. And they’ve also done a great job of infusing permission into their email marketing campaign. 

Notice how NueBar clearly tells shoppers what they’re asking them to do in their opt-in box. 

The copy says, “Just by subscribing to our Nuesletter,” and the CTA says “Subscribe to our newsletter.”

Permission-Based Email Marketing

It doesn’t get much more transparent than that. As for providing shoppers with motivation to sign up, NueBar pulls that off brilliantly and offers two incentives. 

First, shoppers will save 10 percent off their first order by subscribing. 

Permission-Based Email Marketing

Second, they’ll automatically be entered into a monthly drawing where the winner receives a NueBar bundle valued up to $90. 

Permission-Based Email Marketing

And if that wasn’t enough, NueBar lets shoppers know they’ll receive free shipping on orders over $60 in Australia. 

Permission-Based Email Marketing

They cover all of the bases here, and it should make for some extremely happy email subscribers who not only don’t mind receiving content but look forward to it. 

4. Brooks

Permission-Based Email Marketing

Also known as Brooks Running, this is a brand that specializes in top of the line running shoes and apparel. 

While their opt-in box doesn’t explicitly state what will happen when a shopper enters their email address to the same degree as the other examples, I would wager that most shoppers can figure it out pretty easily. 

I like the way that it starts out saying, “Let’s talk running,” which is a playful way to capture a visitor’s attention and get them to take notice. 

Permission-Based Email Marketing

Then, Brooks lists some of the benefits of signing up for their newsletter, including being the first to know about new gear, special collections, and other cool projects this brand is working on. 

Permission-Based Email Marketing

I also like that Brooks asks for a shopper’s gear preference, where they can choose female, male, or both. 

Permission-Based Email Marketing

This allows Brooks to send out super-targeted, uber relevant emails that hit their mark — something that’s incredibly important for keeping subscribers engaged and boosts click-throughs. 

Add it all up, and this an awesome example of permission-based email marketing you can draw plenty of inspiration from. 

5. East Fork

Permission-Based Email Marketing

Lastly, here’s an Asheville, NC-based company that sells contemporary ceramic dinnerware made with materials that are regional to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

East Fork’s opt-in is really simple and takes a unique approach where it features a testimonial from one of their satisfied customers that says, “East Fork truly knows how to put together a newsletter you want to read.”

Again, this doesn’t explicitly ask for permission, but it’s certainly implied with the combination of the testimonial saying it’s a newsletter you want to read combined with the “your email here” CTA.

That way shoppers know exactly what East Fork is asking them to do, and they won’t be surprised when they receive email content from this brand. 

At the end of the day, permission-based email marketing is all about keeping it 100% transparent and giving shoppers a reason to sign up—both of which East Fork does in this example while taking up minimal real estate on their website. 

Free Downloadable Bonus

Want More Email Marketing Inspiration?

We’ve put together 11 email marketing resources to help you make more from your campaigns.

Whether you’re looking for good email examples or evergreen email subject lines, we’ve got something for you.

You’ll also get immediate access to 24+ other bonus resources, categorized in Notion for your convenience.

Download Swipe File Now →


Opt-in email is super important, and laws like the GDPR are making it even more so. 

But beyond the ethical and legal implications, failing to gain consent before sending emails is simply ineffective from an engagement and conversions standpoint. 

People who receive unsolicited emails are unlikely to open them, and even if they do, barely any will actually click-through, and even less will actually buy. 

So, I can’t stress enough the importance of taking a permission-based approach to your email marketing. 

It has a plethora of benefits, including: 

  • A higher open rate
  • Increased conversions
  • Better sender score
  • Stronger brand reputation
  • Larger ROI

And it’s not something that’s hard to implement. 

The five examples I liste d above show how to use permission-based email marketing effectively to maximize your number of subscribers. 

Use them for inspiration to get your campaign in full swing. 

How do you feel about receiving unsolicited emails from brands?

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