You must know (and obey) this critical principle of email marketing in order to be successful with your efforts.

Email marketing remains one of the most enduring (and effective) online marketing methods available today.

With that in mind, why do so many of us make the same critical blunder over and over again, thus dooming our campaigns before they start and ensuring people avoid our emails like the plague?

I’ll explain why I think this happens in a moment, but first, let’s identity this massive email marketing mistake and how to ensure you avoid it.

The Big Email Marketing Mistake

It happens inside my inbox several times a week.

Someone reaches out to me on a network like LinkedIn, where I spend almost all my time, and we connect.

Within a day or two, and without being asked, I’m suddenly getting marketing emails from this person and his or her business.

This is the huge mistake far too many professionals continue to make – adding someone to our email list without his or her permission and without any context.

Why This Happens

We (wrongly) believe that everyone – especially people we think are good sales prospects – would love to hear our incredible e-wisdom via the blast messages we send out promoting ourselves and our business.

The problem, however, is that we don’t first ask for permission to send those emails. We just go ahead and send them without warning or any sort of warm up.

I don’t know about you, but when I start getting marketing emails from someone I didn’t ask to hear from, I can’t find the unsubscribe button fast enough! It starts the entire relationship off on a sour note, and things only go downhill from there.

You Must Earn the Right to Email

A far better (and more effective) way is to entice someone into subscribing to your email list via his or her own volition.

Also it’s important to know that offering “free tips” or “updates” doesn’t work anymore in today’s marketplace.

Instead, you must offer people something specific, something tangible, and something of immediate value in exchange for his or her email address.

And the bigger the free gift you can offer someone, the more likely it is that he or she will sign up for your email list and engage with your content.

For instance, I give away a free copy of my bestselling LinkedIn marketing book as incentive to join my list.

I also offer free video trainings, topical eBooks, free online training sessions and more.

The Best Approach

When I do make a new connection on LinkedIn or come across someone’s email in another way, I first send him or her a personal message, and in the context of that communication I might offer up one of my free resources based on what I think that person might be interested in.

The key is this – I leave the decision about whether or not to sign up for my marketing emails to the other person.

I don’t brazenly add them to my email list without context or permission. To do so all but ensures I’ll lose that person as a prospect before things even start.

Make sure you’re not doing this, and instead develop and deploy some of the methods I’ve outlined above.

Your email subscribers (and your business!) will thank you for it.