Last week, I described this email marketing scenario

  1. League of Conservation Voters (whose e-list I'm happily on) sends me an email introducing an embedded call-to-action from Defenders of Wildlife.
  2. I respond to the Defenders appeal, but opt-out of further contact.
  3. Defenders backs off awhile, then hits me with a succession of e-appeals.

I asked Agitator readers to give their opinions in a quick poll, titled: Is This Bait & Switch? And meantime, Defenders has explained its actions in detail in a response I urge you to read here, from Jeff Regen, VP for Online Marketing & Communications.

As it turns out, (after excluding respondents whose role wouldn't include such dealmaking) 24% of our respondents have made deals for this kind of list exchange. But 43% consider it a “tolerable” practice, and indeed, another 33% agree with the statement: “Get with the Digital Century, Belford, this is just smart marketing … I heartily approve of the deal.”

Who am I to argue with that blessing from the congregation?!

Seriously, I'll concede that LCV was operating within the range of permission I had implicitly given them. By joining their list, I effectively said: “Talk to me when you need to and about whatever you think I need to hear.” Once I've said that, I guess I have to go with their judgment. But I'm not sure I'd feel I had given permission if they came back and said: “Oh, and how about supporting our good friends at NARAL or Save Darfur?”

As for Defenders continuing to blast me with e-appeals. They acknowledge they were wrong to do that (blaming it on a technical glitch) and apologize. Blessedly, 88% of our poll respondents agreed with: “They're breaking the rules … slap their wrists.” Wrists slapped; apology accepted.

As for the 12% who appear to condone spamming, shame on you!

While, as noted above, only 24% of our respondents have made an e-list exchange deal like this, 40% say they personally have received this kind of appeal.

I would expect to see many more chaperoned e-appeals as time goes on. After all, two-thirds of those who have tried it report successful results.

If there is truly a nexus of interest between Org 1 and Org 2, perhaps most recipients will accept these appeals graciously … and maybe even respond. As Jeff Regen says:

“We all know the challenges associated with growing email programs for activism and for constituency development and, yes – for fundraising, too. So, when a true relationship between organizations exists, we want not only to make one another's constituents aware of the larger challenges that face our organizations, but also to expand the base from which we communicate.”

Is that a statement of pragmatism or virtue? And will recipients of chaperoned
e-appeals respond? We'll see.

Tom

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