What is Permission Based Marketing?

by | Sep 26, 2012

Permission Based Marketing Uncovered

If you’re a marketer, permission based marketing should be a well-understood and applied practice. However, for those just getting into marketing, gaining a basic understanding of what permission based marketing is and what it is not can be useful. This will help you keep current customers and attract new customers in a respectful manner.

Permission-Based Marketing Definition

By definition, permission-based marketing is: “The practice of sending marketing communications only to recipients who have given their consent to receive them. It most widely relates to email marketing communication, which is what this post will focus on.”

There are two kinds of permission for permission based marketing:

  • Explicit permission is obtained when the individual opts-in or specifically requests to receive information from you. (Ex. Sign up for newsletter, contact us form on website, etc)
  • Implicit permission is obtained by a customer or client relationship. (Ex. Contacting current customers about new offers, incentives and more)

Over the years, consumers have become wearier of email marketing campaigns. This is due to frequent misuse of personal emails by corporations and commercial institutions. Everyone these days has a “spam” email address. They give out this address when an email is required by a retailer or online form. People are bombarded with advertisements, sales, client emails, and personal emails every day. Therefore, when they don’t know who you are or why you’re sending them an email, you’re likely to get deleted immediately or flagged as spam. And once you get booted it’s really hard to get back in front of them. Then it would be difficult to change their perception of your brand or company.

According to Seth Godin, a marketing guru, “Permission is like dating. You don’t start by asking for the sale at first impression. You earn the right, over time, bit by bit.”

Opt-in Email Marketing

Consumers opt-in to receive content of interest. Moreover, they follow companies or brands they advocate. The opt-in process needs to be obvious and clear. It doesn’t have to be a formal, “join my list” type thing. However, you want to make sure people know they’re giving you their information and what they should expect in return. They can opt-in by filling out a form or check a permission box while filling out a registration form of some kind.

You make a promise to the consumer in exchange for information. It’s wise to be specific about what you are offering. Additionally, they should know how often they will receive communication from you. If it’s an email newsletter, then tell them if it’s weekly, monthly or bi-monthly. For a free download, tell them it’s an immediate download via email. Good permission-based marketing practice is making promises and actually delivering on them.

Permission Based Email Marketing

The old adage, “It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission” doesn’t hold in email marketing.  Email marketing is a very personal medium unlike TV, print and radio. Emails are personally delivered to you, just like a call to your cell phone. And nobody likes telemarketers, right? They call you when you are having dinner with your family, or are busy working. Then they won’t take no for an answer. You don’t want to be that guy in the world of email marketing.

To avoid being “that guy” in email marketing, it’s imperative that you ask for permission. Permission based email marketing makes you more credible. Moreover it will also create trust, build a better list and increase your return on investment.

“It’s better to ask for permission than forgiveness.”

When legitimate email subscribers give you permission to contact them you will know you are sending your messaging to the right audience. As a result, your open and click rates will be higher. People who actively subscribe want to know more about your company and offerings.  Taking the time to build this list is key. Rushing into email marketing with unsolicited email blasts can have long-term negative impact. This can bleed into the social realm.  Everyone knows that strong relationships build strong business. So if you want to build strong customer relationships through your emails you better be asking for permission.

As you can probably conclude, Opt-in email marketing is optimal. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your business reputation.  In the case of email marketing, it should be said, “It’s better to ask for permission than forgiveness.” Keep this in mind next time you get the itch to send out unsolicited emails.  It’s the interested and loyal audience you want anyways.

Now you have a base understanding of what permission based email marketing is and how to apply it to email marketing. Check out our post on How to Build an Effective Email Marketing List to get started today!