If you turned to email marketing as a reliable channel to engage with your customers in 2020, you were not alone! The emfluence Marketing Platform saw a 177% increase in send volume in 2020, with the Advertising/Marketing industry boasting a 349% increase in send volume.

With these metrics, we can safely say that email is NOT dead!

Even though email is alive and well, this does not give marketers a free pass to be cavalier with the quality of their email lists. Clean data is king, people!

What are we supposed to do then, when faced with a global crisis that demands we reach more subscribers through email than ever before?

Well, sending the perfect re-permission email is a great place to start.

What is a re-permission email, anyway?

A re-permission email at its core, is simply asking subscribers if they want to receive your emails and giving them an easy way to unsubscribe if that answer is no. Check out Urban Outfitters and Litmus, for example:

This may seem like a bold move. Gaining these email addresses took a lot of hard work, and you don’t want to throw away subscribers who have the potential of engaging with your program. A re-permission email will allow you to give subscribers one last chance to stay on your email list and let you only send to those who are interested in your brand.

Putting the power back in the hands of the subscriber also shows brand integrity. Allowing your subscribers to make this decision for themselves sends a great message about your brand, its values, and how you view subscribers as real people.

When should I send a re-permission email, and why?

Here are the primary situations when creating a re-permission email will be the right decision for your program:

  • Moving to a new sending platform: If you are moving to a new platform and have long lists of email records who have not engaged in some time, ask the subscribers themselves if they want to engage with you before moving them to the new system.
  • High Complaint or Unsubscribe Rate: Your own program’s metrics can show you it may be time for a re-permission email. Are you seeing higher complaints than usual? Maybe a higher unsubscribe rate, paired with a lower open rate? Each of these metrics show that you are not hitting the mark with your messaging or segmentation, and you do not want a high complaint rate and low open rate to affect your sender reputation.
  • Global Chaos (Or Just Sending to Old Subscribers): If you find yourself in a situation of having to send to older, less engaged email segments – this would be a great time for a re-permission email. Holiday sending, a large event for your brand, or even a global pandemic become the perfect time to clean up your lists and ensure you are sending to those who want to be sent to.

A re-permission email is a very useful tool in your arsenal that can help you improve complaint rates, unsubscribe rates, as well as open rates to make you look like a star at your next executive meeting.

How to set up the perfect re-permission email: 

The first step in creating a perfect re-permission email is determining at which point in your customer journey there is a shift in engagement. If you look at your metrics and see a dip in open rates, an increase in unsubscribes, paired with an uptick in complaints in a segment that has not engaged in 18 months, then the 18-month point will be the most effective place to have a re-permission email.

As for the email design, simplicity is key for controlling customer expectations, and communicating clearly what is important to your brand. A creative email and a reminder of your brand personality may be all a subscriber needs to go from an unengaged user to an engaged one.

This email design will need a simple “Yes” button confirming the user’s interest in staying subscribed. As well as an easily accessible “No” button, resulting in an unsubscribe. Your confirmation button can lead to a landing page thanking the subscriber for remaining on your list, or this could be a great opportunity to show off your interactive email skills with an in-email confirmation of their selection.

After determining your audience, and creating a stellar campaign to catch their eye, it’s time to press send. But before you do, there are a few things to consider.

  • How large is this list you are about to send to? If you fear the volume of your re-permission email will tip the scales of your great deliverability metrics, split this group into smaller segments and send to them gradually.
  • Go ahead and set this campaign up as an automation. Now you can wipe your hands of this re-permission for the time being, and let your program do the work for you.
  • Be sure and wait a few weeks. These email users may not just be unengaged with your brand, but unengaged with their inbox entirely. Give them ample time before giving up on them as a subscriber.


Unprecedented times can be taxing on your email marketing standards, but times like this also provide a unique opportunity to re-excite your subscribers. Keeping your email data clean will boost your sender reputation and create a subscriber experience customers will be happy to participate in.

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