There is a real difference between "May I send you an email?" and "Can I send you an email." And I'm not just talking about which question to ask your prospective subscriber.
In case you're wondering now that I've mentioned it, WordTask defines "may" as expressing permission or possibility, while "can" expresses ability.
In email marketing, the first question … "May I send you an email?" is the essential question you're asking your prospect subscriber when getting permission to send her an email. This is where you need to be really clear about what you're asking permission to send, and she needs to be really clear about what she's giving you permission to send.
The "Can I send you an email" is an entirely different story. Your ability to actually deliver the email is, however, still still a bit of permission. Not so much the asking permission … the "May I?" Because there's really no one to ask permission of … but the finding out through testing whether you can actually get the email to move all the way from your "out basket" to your intended recipient's "in basket."
This is the more technical side of email marketing, and it can be much trickier.
The "can" for email marketing consists of whether your prospect subscriber has the right kind of software to receive your email in the format you've designed it … and … (the part about finding out if you got permission without saying "Mother may I?") Is whether you can (have the ability to) get your content and layout to pass through the permission police of the numerous spam filters currently used by Internet Service Providers (ISP's) as well as any additional filters added by your prospect subscriber.
The first part of the "Can …" in terms of whether your subscriber can actually read what you send is getting something easier, as computer operating systems and software upgrades now permit most email users to read HTML, PDF and text. However, it's certainly not 100%, so part of your "May I send you emails?" questionnaire is "In what format would you like to receive your emails?" so you will know what she can read on her computer, as well as what she may prefer.
The second part of "Can I" (your ability to physically get the email delivered) also involves an action on her part and that is … she must "whitelist" you … or add you to her acceptable contacts list, as well as confirm the opt-in, so that your emails will not automatically be sent to her "junk mail."
Now that you've gotten that far, the last barrier on the "Can you get the email through" is the most difficult … and quite frankly, may best be left to the experts. Especially if you're quickly developing a large email list. The experts at getting past the spam filters are email marketing services, who act as your agent, have developed a "relationship" with the ISP's. They know and understand what words, phrases, graphics, and other testing criteria may cause your messages to be considered "spam," and cause them to be blocked before they can be received.
At Toptenreviews.com, you can see that the three highest ranked email marketing services are Icontact, Benchmark, and ConstantContact. They are not the only email marketing companies that you might consider, but using someone in this field can make a significant difference in whether your email message can get through to the intended recipient's inbox.
There you have it. Once you have permission, you may send the email. And, once you understand the formats and filters, (and probably obtained a little professional assistance) you can get your emails into the proper inbox.