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By Jordan Ayan

RISMEDIA, Oct. 4, 2008-(eCommerce+Marketing)-Much has been written about the importance of permission. Legitimate marketers wouldn’t attempt to send any marketing message using e-mail to anything but a permission-based list. While most marketers have mastered the art of permission, quite a few miss the mark in the “good manners” department.

As in life, a few basic e-mail etiquette rules can go a long way to turning a good e-mail program into a great one. Here are five pointers to consider:

1. The Golden Rule. When you put a message together, visualize yourself on the receiving end. If you weren’t in the business, would you want to receive it? If it’s the fifth time this month you’re touting a sale, or if you’re sending a self-promotional newsletter with no relevance to the recipient, or if it’s just something that you’d hope to never receive, don’t press that send button.

2. Always welcome guests. When people sign up for your e-mail list, you have a great opportunity to direct them to a welcome page once they complete the opt-in form. This shows your appreciation and welcomes them to the list. The welcome message can link them to previous newsletters or promotions, offer special discounts, provide an unadvertised special, or offer a complimentary whitepaper. It doesn’t have to be something big; it just has to say “welcome.”

3. Always say thank you. When someone signs up for your list, the thank-you message, just as the welcome message, can play an important role in setting the tone for the relationship that you formulate with the new recipient. In fact, the thank-you is probably the single greatest marketing opportunity a company ever has.

Prospects or customers have raised their hands and basically asked to form a relationship with you. What better chance do you have to engage with these customers on a deep level and thank them for their interest and willingness to hear from you on a periodic basis? A thank-you message should be sent immediately after the sign up. It should set expectations and again offer something of value in return for the e-mail address you were just provided.

4. Speak properly. Unless you happen to write a newsletter for a rapper, e-mail communications should use the proper grammar, spelling and sentence structure. Avoid using jargon or slang, and create a message that’s clear and concise. Well-written communications go a long way to show the reader you care about the time they’re sharing with you.

5. Deliver on your word. When you set up a program and have people sign up for it, you set a series of expectations. These include expectations on the frequency of messages, the types of messages, your privacy policy, how to unsubscribe and other housekeeping details. Once you’ve set the expectations, don’t change them without explicit communication and new permission. If you set the expectation that recipients will receive a monthly e-mail, send it on a monthly basis. Don’t suddenly switch to a weekly message.

The bottom line is, just as in life, good manners go a long way to ensure that your interactions are smooth and easy for all involved. E-mail is no different. Successful e-mail programs are built on good relationships, and good relationships have as a foundation, good manners.

Jordan Ayan is the founder and CEO of SubscriberMail, a Lisle, Ill.-based e-mail marketing services provider. Reach Jordan at