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Are You Using Permission-Based Marketing The Right Way?

What is permission-based marketing?

Permission-based marketing or permission marketing is used to describe the type of marketing whereby the audience gives “permission” or consent to be sent marketing/promotional materials. This term was coined by marketing expert, Seth Godin in his book, Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends, and Friends into Customers, in 1999. 

Since then, this form of marketing has been popular among marketers because as Godin explained, consumers choosing the marketing materials they consume will help businesses better understand what their customers need and how best to cater to them. This is unlike traditional marketing where consumers are bombarded with all forms of ads across different platforms. Think about how annoyed you get when you are watching your favourite program on TV or watching a video on Youtube and you are interrupted by an ad you have no interest in. That’s exactly how your target audience feels when they are interrupted by your ads. Of course, this is not to say interruption marketing – as it is called – does not have its place. It is simply helping you see why permission-based marketing is becoming popular. 

However, it is possible to use permission marketing the wrong way and not yield the results that you would, otherwise, have gotten if used the right way. And that’s what this post will focus on. Follow me as I take you through using permission-based marketing the right way. 

Now, to be strategic about permission marketing, you need to know that permission marketing is:


There is something about opening a mail and seeing that it is addressed personally to you. Many email marketing platforms have an option to add a first name tag that will address each subscriber by their first name. You should take advantage of this and send personalised emails instead of generalised ones. The aim of permission marketing will be defeated if you are sending the same email to everybody on your list. Take the extra time to monitor their activities on your website and use the information they provided when subscribing to send them only emails relevant to them. Email segmenting tools will help you achieve this.

Permission-based marketing


There are two ways we can look at this. You can either neglect the information that has been given to you and not use it optimally or you can spam your customers. The key is to find a balance. In a world full of information, you want to make sure you are Top of Mind with your customers; so you need to be frequent about giving them information about your brand. Think of it as building a relationship; you need to communicate regularly to develop a relationship; it is the same way with developing a relationship with your customers. Of course, you might not necessarily communicate as often as you would in an interpersonal relationship because, on the other hand, you shouldn’t spam them. Sending irrelevant emails because you want to achieve frequency will be counterproductive. 


Remember that they opted in for your email list because they are interested in your brand and they believe you have the information they are interested in. So, give them only the information they will find relevant. Also, you will need to segment your email list because what customer A will find relevant might be different from what customer B will find relevant.

Based on Trust

Don’t lie to your customers. I could have been less direct with that statement but it is important, so I am not mincing words. They trusted your brand or at least, felt they could trust your brand and that’s why they gave you their information. Don’t promise them what you cannot offer, otherwise, you could lose goodwill and the last thing you need is customers dropping bad reviews for you in this digital age. 

Also, protect their privacy. Don’t sell their information for gain or use their information for anything else besides the reason which they agreed to provide it. You should have a privacy policy, fully detailing all – in as simple language as possible – that you will use their information for. Make sure your privacy policy is visible on your website or make it a requirement before they can complete their subscription. 

Additionally, always remember that permission marketing is about building relationships with your audience. So, don’t just focus on selling. Instead, offer information and incentives around your product/service that will make them want to buy or patronise you.


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