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By Gail Goodman

On a scale of one to ten, how high would you rank the importance of trust in a relationship? Would you agree that without trust it's next to impossible to build a meaningful friendship with another person? This same principle applies to your relationship with the members of your email list.

When someone gives you their email address, they are trusting you - but only a little. They are providing you with a small window, a brief opportunity, for you to prove that you are worthy of that trust and possibly even more.

Author and marketing guru Seth Godin says that permission marketing is all about turning strangers into friends and friends into customers. So how do you turn a stranger into a friend? By treating them in a way that builds their trust in you.

How to Build Trust

Think about the emails you receive from businesses or organizations. I'm sure some do a better job at winning your trust than others. Here are some of the trust-building characteristics I have observed:

Respect: The number one ingredient in building trust is respect. In the case of email marketing, you can show respect by not bombarding your receivers with messages and by making sure that what you are sending them is well thought out and relevant. Email is so easy to use that we can take a casual attitude towards what we send. For your email campaigns to be effective they can't be "off the cuff." Your customers deserve better than that, and they know it!

Another way to show respect (and to follow the law) is by using a permission reminder in your emails, which reminds your list members, up front, that they are receiving your newsletter or announcement because they asked for it. It also gives them an easy way to unsubscribe if they so choose.


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Gail Goodman is the CEO of Constant Contact.
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