Permission marketing is an approach which requires explicit consent from a user to start communication. For the first time, this concept appeared in a similarly-named book by Seth Godin in 1999. Permission marketing is still relevant today when users are being bombarded with millions of interrupting ads online.

When you ask for permission to communicate to users, it should sound like “Hey, I’ve heard you had a problem. Would you like me to help you get it fixed?”

Permission marketing is an alternative to interrupting marketing — an outdated model which works based on “spray and pray” tactics, spreading information on the crowd of people in the hope that somebody will respond.

The law requires getting permission from the users in email marketing, SMS marketing, and Facebook Messenger marketing, so not following these principles will damage your business’ reputation.

Feel free to check the video, which illustrates the three big ideas from Seth Godin’s book.

Benefits of permission marketing

  • Allows making the first touch with an engaged audience. Those users who gave their permission are warm leads, which are easier to get converted and build relationships with. This is the way how you can filter your audience.
  • Lowers your spending. Putting your business in front of everybody takes more time, money, and efforts to sift the leads from the crowd of uninterested people. That’s why permission marketing goes hand to hand with targeting.
  • Increases accuracy of your marketing efforts. It’s smart to promote sports nutrition to people who go to the gym. If you show such products to artists, mechanics, car owners, teachers — chances are that they don’t need sports nutrition at the moment. The principles of permission marketing help you generate leads more accurately.
  • Helps to build loyalty and reputation. Asking for permission is a sign of respect to the users, so they will be more likely to trust your brand and stay with you at every stage of their customer journey.

Permission marketing vs. interruption marketing

These are two anticipating principles of doing business.

Interruption marketing is any marketing message which users didn’t ask to receive. Among the examples are TV and radio ads, billboards, pop-ups in the browser, and annoying ads on YouTube, which disturb users’ activities.

This interrupting approach is a fast way to increase sales, but it has its downside. Your pushy ads can annoy even your target audience instead of just drawing their attention to the value your brand could bring.

Permission marketing, in its turn, is an approach which tends to respect people’s privacy, being more friendly and less pushy. Since it would be strange to ask for permission to sell, the emphasis lies on providing help and value.

Examples of permission marketing

Email marketing

The CAN-SPAM Act in the United States and other laws require opting in users. A double opt-in is the safest approach because it confirms their subscription, ensuring that companies will send emails to real and engaged people.

Confirmation email

Chatbot marketing

You can create a chatbot to automate the work on some lifecycle stages. In chatbot marketing, you can’t send messages to anyone unless they’ve given permission. To initiate communication, the user needs to click on the button “Send Message” on Facebook Page and then “Get started” in the chat.

Chatbot's Get Started button

SMS marketing

Similarly to email marketing, this channel requires consent from the user for sending short text messages, which is called SMS opt-in.

Permission to send SMS

Web push notifications

Marketers send web push notifications to share news and updates instantly, but they can’t send such messages unless users allow doing so.

Web push notification permission inquiry

Permission marketing best practices

  • Tell users how to start and stop communication. Make it clear how to consent, and in case the user is no longer interested in information you share, make it easy and intuitive to stop. Check some poor and good examples of unsubscribe link in the emails here.
  • Set expectations. Let users know how often you will contact them and which topics you will cover, so they could fully understand whether your services are relevant to them.
  • Let users manage their preferences. If the user feels overwhelmed with message frequency, allow changing preferences. Treating users with respect is a way to build trusting relationships and keep them from negative experiences, which may result in unsubscribing.
  • Push personalization to its limits. Ask users to share their data with you at any stage of their lifecycle. It will help to create a seamless experience and keep your customers loyal.

Read this blog article to get best practices regarding permission-based email marketing.

References

  1. The article "What is Permission Marketing and How Does it Work" by HubSpot defines the term and shows how permission marketing works.
  2. The article "Top 5 Strategies for Using Permission Marketing to Grow Your Business" from Medium explains why permission marketing is considered to be an effective strategy in long-term relationships with customers.
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