Home > Articles

Like this article? We recommend

Permission Marketing ("A rose by any other name...")

Using email to prospect for new customers or members for your organization is one of the best and most cost-effective arrows in your marketing department's quiver. If done right, it can add dollars to your organization's bottom line. If done wrong, however, mass email campaigns can damage your company's brand credibility, provoke potential consumer hostility, and put your IT department in the doghouse (possibly through no fault of your own).

Email prospecting has a formal name: permission marketing. It's called that for a very important reason. Permission marketing is the means of getting a user's permission to send email before your message shows up in the email inbox. You can get permission in a variety of ways from visitors, but there are some landmines to watch out for.

Gaining Active Consent

Let's consider your site visitors first. As on most e-business web sites, your organization has probably ask site visitors to join a mailing list to get updates about products, services, or even the site itself. You may offer valuable periodic information in the form of an email newsletter. At the end of a sale, you ask customers to subscribe to email promotions: "Would you like to receive information from us periodically about sales? Would you like to receive our newsletter?" In all these formats, the customer responds with "yes" or "no" by filling in a check box. If the answer is "yes," the customer has given permission. If it's "no," permission is denied.

Make it clear that customers are agreeing to a permission email relationship. That means that when you offer yes-or-no check boxes, you must not pre-check the box.

Simple principle. But it's not the whole enchilada.

Let Me Out!

For many businesses, when a customer or member sends email requesting removal from a mailing list, that request goes into a black hole, with no confirmation that the proper action—or any action—was taken. You can avoid this problem by providing a special web page on your site for unsubscribing from your mailing list.

Your unsubscribe page should be short, to the point, and easy to understand. The language needs to be completely unambiguous.

You can make unsubscribing even easier for users by including an "Unsubscribe" link within your email. As soon as the user clicks the link, your server should recognize it as an unsubscribe action and present a web page indicating that the user has successfully unsubscribed from your list. This page also gives your marketing department another chance to interact with the user, perhaps asking if he or she wants to subscribe to another list, or to join your new preferred shoppers club—or to re-subscribe immediately if the user unsubscribed accidentally.

Respecting the User's Privacy

It's important to remember that the user's permission applies to your site—nobody else's. Don't give or sell customers' email addresses—that is, their permission to be emailed—to any other company or person, unless you ask for the customer's permission in advance.

Protecting Your IP Address

Why is this permission thing so important—especially to your IT department? Because, if permission isn't handled correctly, your organization can be accused of spamming. And that has some pretty nasty consequences these days. The IT department—not the marketing department—is responsible for protecting the reputation of your organization's IP address. That means that IT is in charge of keeping the name "spammer" away from your organization.

Anti-spammers rarely complain just to their Internet service providers (ISP). They are just as likely to complain to your ISP, your ISP's backbone provider, and just about everyone else along the electronic path from you to the recipient. If your organization gains a reputation as a spammer, your provider may terminate your Internet connection—just to stop the complaints.

If losing your Internet connection isn't scary enough, consider this: A not-for-profit organization called Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS) runs the Realtime Blackhole List (RBL), a compiled list of IP addresses of known spammers—and offers this list to subscribers.

Who are these subscribers? Email administrators.

Using the RBL list, these administrators reject any email that originates from those IP addresses. That's right, any email—not just bulk email. You're probably thinking that the RBL list includes only pornography sites and get-rich-quick spammers. It doesn't. It also includes what the antispam community calls mainsleaze, a combination of mainstream and sleaze. These are legitimate companies that use questionable email practices. That is, they don't use opt-in email lists—or, in other words, permission marketing.

Obviously, getting permission is extremely important for your email marketing strategy and the reputation of your organization.

So, you check in with your marketing department to make sure that they're using an opt-in email list. Is that enough to keep your organization out of the doghouse? Not necessarily.

Individual users can also sabotage your company's reputation by marketing independently on their own (or just communicating with suppliers), bypassing IT completely. Here's an example. Several years ago, an employee at a major corporation sent email to the corporation's list of suppliers, who were unaware of each other. Unfortunately, they became aware of each other's presence as soon as they opened the email, because the sender entered all the email addresses in the CC: line and not the BCC: line. Very embarrassing for the company. (Probably didn't do the employee's career any good, either.)

It pays for your IT staff to educate your entire organization on proper email protocol and the elements of permission marketing.

Purchasing Third-Party Permission

Even if your organization has a house list that you use for email, your marketing department might want to use the services of email list companies on the Internet to prospect for new customers. Just about any day, your organization probably receives plenty of offers from unknown companies wanting to sell you "millions of email addresses of people wanting to hear from you!"

In a word: Don't.

If you want to email responsibly and not be branded a spammer, teach your marketing staff to work only with companies that use a "double opt-in" process to build their mailing lists. In a double opt-in process, consumers who sign up to be list members at a variety of web sites are emailed a confirmation by the creator of the list. Recipients of the confirmation email must confirm that they want to be part of the database—before they're added.

Many list-rental companies don't use double opt-in because it's time-consuming. But it's the only way you can be sure that recipients of your rented email list really want to have emails sent to them.

Here are two popular double opt-in email list companies:

  • The first company to collect, categorize, and offer for sale nonspam opt-in email lists was NetCreations. If you're looking for numbers, this is the place. NetCreations works with more than 250 partner web sites that ask visitors if they'd like to receive mailings on certain topics. You can choose from more than 50 million double opt-in email addresses in both B2C and B2B categories.

  • Omni Point Marketing offers a list of 40 million double opt-in consumer email addresses.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020