Permission marketing, an idea popularized by Seth Godin in 1999, is the act of “delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”
This means flagging customers who have chosen to give you their contact details and the green light to send them your content. Permission marketing essentially puts you in the unique situation of having a voluntarily captive audience.
You're not dropping the proverbial net, hoping to catch one or two keepers. You've already got a keeper that, with a little effort and patience, can become a powerful brand ambassador. So how do you go about translating that direct line of communication with the consumer into measurable results?
You identify what's good for the consumer, because ultimately, it's what's good for you. Here are a few points to consider as you plan your permission marketing strategy.
1) They already want to hear from you
Permission marketing is not a cold-call from an obsolete, long-distance supplier. It's not an obscure email sent from a third party who purchased the consumer’s email address from someone else.
It’s the result of thoughtful consideration by customers who have provided personal details in order to hear from you. Don’t view this customer base a list of faceless emails; rather, reward the trust they’ve shown in you.
2) It has to be personal
Godin says permission marketing is the act of “turning strangers into friends and friends into customers.” When you genuinely want to connect with a friend, you wouldn’t send them a generic text. You’d send something personal, just for them, that is just from you.
It’s the same for this unique customer base. Your customer has already invited your communication. They've opened the door. Don't flood them with irrelevant info that will make them change their minds.
The people at Amazon do this well and with little direct interaction with their customers. They send emails based on recent browsing activity.
You can follow their lead. Didn't make the sale right away? Remind them that they were interested earlier this week and then remind them again. You have their permission.
If you don't have a way to follow what they're viewing on your site, consider a simple email survey. You don't want to waste your time and resources when you could be narrowing your communication to focus on what people are specifically interested in.
A personalized experience wins out over blanket communication every time.
3) You've entered a social contract
The nature of permission marketing that it’s mutually beneficial and signifies an unspoken, social contract. Your customer has trusted that when he gives you his email address, you will only send what he asked you to send.
When you receive your customer's permission to engage with her, you trust that she will read and respond accordingly. Both sides of the contract are important and valid, but it’s vital that you uphold your end of the deal.
If the customers asked for a weekly email, schedule and send that email weekly. Are they expecting a freebie for giving you their email address? Make sure you send what you said you would send, when you said you would send it.
4) Attention is a precious commodity
Walk down any city street in America and you’ll recognize that on the whole, we have an attention problem. As our noses become more buried in our phones, marketing has had to up the ante to gain its share of our attention span.
Research indicates that, on average, Americans are exposed to more than 300 advertisements per day, but are engaging with as few as 12 of those 300. Your customers’ attention is not only on the latest SnapChat to pop up on their phone, but on literally hundreds of other marketing ploys vying for that attention.
You have the benefit of knowing they want to show you attention, so grab it for as long as you can.
5) Quality vs. Quantity
Are you sending emails just to check a box? Or to fill a quota?
It’s not about sending just any content you can piece together or rehash: it’s about the quality of your engagement with customers.
Reward them for showing interest. Treat them like friends. Make it a two-way conversation, so they feel involved and valued. Be intentional about your communications.
Customers will notice any dip in quality in these areas, and they could potentially lose the trust they first felt when they gave you permission to contact them.
Want more information on how permission marketing can work for you? Download our free e-book, Inbound and Content Marketing, today!