April 2017 archive

How to effectively increase your permission based email marketing database for a small food business

Permission based email marketing

Permission based email marketing was introduced due to the increasing amount of ‘spam’ emails that were being received by customers (Ellis-Chadwick & Doherty, 2012). It is now the law in England to obtain the recipients’ permission before emailing their account (GOV.UK, 2017). Read the government rules on email marketing.

However, this has created an additional challenge for businesses. The task now is to be able to successfully persuade customers to ‘opt-in’ to receiving their emails, in order to target them directly. Once the ‘opt-in’ has been successful, email marketing allows a bigger return on investment (ROI) than any other online marketing tactic (Pavlov, Melville & Plice, 2008). This is perhaps because, unlike social media posts, an email has the ability to sit in a customer’s inbox until they are ready to engage with it.

Ellis-Chadwick & Doherty (2012) found that the main incentive consumers face when deciding whether to sign up, is if the company matches with their personal interests and is able to draw their attention. Krishnamurthy (2001) explain that the more interested a consumer is in what you have to say, the more they will contribute, therefore increasing your email marketing efforts dramatically. The idea that a ‘deal’ must be struck between you and the consumer is an important concept. Consumers are much more inclined to enter their email address if they are made aware that they will get something back in return (Godin, 1999), ultimately creating trust as well as a relationship with the customer.

It is crucial that the consumers’ interest is created through the relevance of the message, as well as the financial benefits. It is also important to avoid costs and excessive information entry (Krishnamurthy, 2001). These ‘relational mediators’ emphasise a number of factors which Palmatier (2006) argues are essential for a successful relationship with the consumer.

With these factors in mind, here are 4 tactics to increase your ‘opt-in’ rate:

  1. Offer the customer a discount code

This would be particularly straight forward for a small food business as it is a very commonly used tactic. It instantly creates an incentive for the customer to ‘opt-in’. Ask Italian’s example below grabs the customers attention with 25% off, enticing people to sign up through their website in return for money off their food bill. This effectively demonstrates the seller attempting to invest in the relationship (Palmatier, 2006).

This example also encourages the customer to repeat their email address. This helps eliminate incorrect email addresses from being entered. However, be cautious as this does create more work for the customer. Read advice on double entry forms.

2. Embed a sign up box on your website homepage

Morelli Zorelli (small pizzeria) demonstrates a great example where they have included a section on their website to sign up to their newsletter. They have let the customer know that they will receive a weekly email and what exactly it will include. This means customers are informed as to what exactly they are signing up for, highlighting the ‘interaction frequency’ factor which again adds to the effectiveness of building a customer relationship (Palmatier, 2006). It is also a very quick process as all that is required is an email address, which customers will value.

3. Add a pop-up to your website

This is a tactic which is often used by businesses to really focus the attention of the customer. The example below from Domino’s shows their pop-up taking up the majority of the screen in order to divert the customer to the sign up box. There is also an incentive being offered for doing so (25% off), persuading the customer to join.

However, pop up boxes can be seen as intrusive and if used incorrectly could damage the brand reputation (Unbounce, 2012). Therefore they need to be used with caution, read how to use pop ups effectively.

4. Add signup option to checkout page

This option is ideal for e-commerce businesses in the food sector. It gives customers the choice to ‘opt-in’ there and then. Customers that get to this stage will already be interested in the business, meaning they are more likely to sign up to receive news about the company. In order to incentivise further, the example below (Giggling Squid) could have stated that special deals will be made available to those who are signed up. This would enhance the customer relationship by emphasising the ‘relationship benefits’ of signing up (Palmatier, 2006).

Remember, when deciding how best to increase your ‘opt-in’ rate, evaluate whether it is the right decision for you and your company. What works for one company may not be right for another. Make sure the language you are using is friendly and engaging in order to create the relationship with the customer from the onset. For further tips click here.

If done successfully, the cooperation between buyer and seller will be beneficial to both parties (Palmatier, 2006) and the ROI of your email marketing campaign will reap the benefits.


Ellis-Chadwick, F. & Doherty, N.F., (2012) Web advertising: The role of e-mail marketing, Journal of Business Research, vol. 65, no. 6, pp. 843-848

Godin, S., (1999) Permission marketing: Turning strangers into friends and friends into customers. Simon and Schuster.

Gov.UK (2017) Marketing and Advertising: The Law [online] <https://www.gov.uk/marketing-advertising-law/direct-marketing> [accessed 5 April 2017]

Krishnamurthy, S., (2001) A comprehensive analysis of permission marketing. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp.0-0.

Palmatier, R.W., Dant, R.P., Grewal, D. & Evans, K.R. 2006, “Factors Influencing the Effectiveness of Relationship Marketing: A Meta-Analysis”, Journal of Marketing, vol. 70, no. 4, pp. 136-153.

Pavlov, O.V., Melville, N. & Plice, R.K., (2008) Toward a sustainable email marketing infrastructure, Journal of Business Research, vol. 61, no. 11, pp. 1191-1199.

Unbounce (2012) Are email subscription pop-ups worth the risk? 18 December 2012 [online] <https://unbounce.com/email-marketing/get-subscribers-from-pop-ups/> [accessed 2 April 2017]