“Permission marketing” is a term which has been around for quite some time in marketing circles but was thought to be popularized relatively recently by Seth Godin through his myriad of best-selling books and articles.
In the realm of the Internet, permission marketing chiefly involves the medium of email marketing.
In this article we will look at why permission marketing using the vehicle of email is an extremely effective way to promote your business and how this technique can increase your opt-in rates and hence your profitability.
Before we delve into more details about permission marketing using emails, let’s first look at a definition of permission marketing and also where it stands among the other forms of marketing on the Internet.
A general definition for this type of marketing is:
Permission marketing is a form of marketing whereby the seller requires explicit permission from the prospective customer in order to send promotional messages regarding their goods and/or services.
As mentioned previously, this type of marketing is usually carried out using emails because it is very efficient and the least invasive marketing technique compared to the other forms of marketing on the internet. It can also be highly profitable.
Therefore, for the rest of this article when we refer to permission marketing we will be talking about the email form used on the internet.
Benefits of permission marketing over other internet marketing techniques
Marketing on the internet can be a very profitable undertaking because of the sheer size of potential consumer base. Because of this massive audience, almost any form of internet marketing has a huge scalability advantage over traditional forms of marketing.
Due to this massive potential internet marketing has been greatly abused by spammers and as such has received a bad reputation.
For instance, the type of marketing which spammers usually employ is “unsolicited email marketing”, where they send millions of emails to unsuspecting recipients with the hope that a small percentage of them will click on a link and buy something.
In addition, tougher regulations designed to minimize internet spamming have made it even harder for unscrupulous marketers to perform their business because of smarter software which can detect and report junk mail and permanently mark the sender as a spammer and also get them in trouble with the law.
By contrast, one of the main benefits of permission marketing is that you usually do not have to worry about doing anything unscrupulous in order to get positive results because the basis of permission marketing is that you will only be sending your promotional emails to people who gave you their permission to do so.
As an example, the way this works is that when a potential customer visits your site, you might offer them a free download on the condition that they sign up to your mailing list. Once the visitor submits their email address, they will get an email from your autoresponder asking them to confirm their subscription to your email list. The visitor then simply agrees to the confirmation with a single click, after which they will then be a subscriber to your autoresponder list.
The above scenario is what is known as a “double opt-in” because the would-be subscriber must confirm their subscription, and is an effective way to build a very targeted list of potential buyers.
There is also a “single opt-in” scenario where there person entering an email address from your site will automatically get inserted into your autoresponder list without confirmation (or permission). This method is very prone to spamming because of the fact that explicit confirmation is not carried out and thus anybody can enter someone else’s email address without the owner of address giving their permission to do so.
The fallout of such a scenario as the single opt-in is that once the owner of the email address discovers that they are receiving a bunch of unsolicited promotional emails, they can mark the sender as a “spammer”.
Therefore the permission marketing aspect of the double opt-in is the ideal and least invasive way to market and promote your products or services on the internet, mainly because the people receiving your promotional material have agreed to it which by inference also means that they are the most targeted and highly likely to result in conversions.
How to increase your opt-in percentages
Like with everything in business and life in general, people want to feel that they are receiving something or benefiting from a situation before they agree to help you by signing up to your list.
Thus offering some kind of incentive for people to sign up to your mailing list is the best way to achieve positive results when it comes to your opt-in rates.
Some suggestions on the type of incentives are:
1) Offer a free item
As mentioned earlier this is a great way to get the ball rolling. Your potential subscriber gets the promise of a free gift (which can be in the form of some kind of download or access to privileged content on your site) and you get a subscriber who can become potential customer.
2) Offer heavily discounted deals for people who subscribe to your list
Similar to the free gift method above this is also a fantastic way to increase opt-in rates to your mailing list.
3) Use the assistance of joint venture partners or colleagues to offer your product for free as one of their bonuses on the condition that the customer signs up to your list
Similar to the free gift this goes one step further because your reach of influence has been extended to also cover the contacts and visitors of your partners and colleagues.
Some crucial things to consider about permission marketing
1) Always make it easy for people to “opt-out” if they wish
Most if not all autoresponder systems provide the functionality to make it easy for people to “opt-out” of a list by clicking on a link usually located in the footer of an email.
This is one of the factors which gives permission marketing its good reputation and why as a marketer or online seller it is in your best interest to practice such ethical marketing.
2) Don’t overload your email subscribers with too many promotional emails
Once you’ve attained the trust of people to give you their email address, it is then up to you to maintain that trust by not overloading your subscribers with a barrage of promotional emails every day.
If you push your luck you may quickly see your subscribers suddenly turning into un-subscribers by opting out of the list because they see you more as pest rather than a source of handy info with products which offer value to them.
Therefore, to maintain a loyal subscriber list don’t over-market to them and try to throw in some incentives such as freebies or “member-only” discount offers etc.
3) Never assume that somebody has given you their permission for you to send them your marketing emails
This is an implicit quality of permission marketing but it needs to be mentioned again.
Always ensure that when you register somebody’s email address from your website, that you send them an “opt-in” email to ask for their permission to send them messages in the future.