Permission Marketing

What is permission marketing? Permission marketing is defined simply as asking your target market and Web site visitors for the authority to perform a specific action—for their permission to do, or send them, something. The key to permission marketing is to get your target market to willingly volunteer to participate and in order to do this, whatever it is you are proposing must be of value to your target market. You have to make it clear to the user by answering the question “What’s in it for me?” If your target market sees no benefit in participating, then they simply will not participate—it’s that simple.

What makes permission marketing so effective? Permission marketing is not intrusive. Your target market volunteered to receive the information you’re sending because it is of interest to them, and as a result they expect to receive it. This significantly increases the likelihood of your target market’s viewing the material that has been sent to them and their being receptive of it. When implemented correctly, permission marketing can be a valuable asset in acquiring new customers and maintaining relationships with existing ones. We discuss some of the ways in which you can use permission marketing to increase your online marketing success in the next section.

1. Tips

There are a few things to keep in mind when creating your permission marketing campaign:
  • Personalization
    • studies have shown that personalized emails receive a much higher response rate than generic emails
    • most mail list software programs these days allow you to easily personalize the text in the so make sure that you ask for the first name as well as the individual's email address when asking for permission to stay in touch
    • check the first page of this newsletter - if the salutation just says "hi" and not "hi <your first name>" this means that we do not have your first name in our database...and we would really like to be able to personalize our emails and target any communication that we have with you. Please hit reply now and provide us with your name and state. We appreciate it. As far as privacy goes we will not give away or sell your email address. Period.
    • when asking permission to communicate with your target market you want to make it easy -  don’t have the visitor complete a long form on which they have to provide all kinds of information - less is better.

  •  Sell the Benefits
    • you have to know your target market well and know what would be enticing enough to get that permission

    • people are inundated with junk e-mail and need to be “sold” on why they should subscribe or join your communication list

    • join our weekly newsletter” just doesn’t cut it -  “join our weekly newsletter to receive our Internet only specials, coupons and tips from our pro” will get you more subscribes

  • Co-operative Permission Marketing
    • look for opportunities to form an alliance with other sites that are trying to reach the same target market you are and then see how you can do some win-win marketing

    • if you have a monthly newsletter you can allow subscribers to sign up to receive alliance partners’ newsletters at the same time they sign up to receive yours - in return your alliance partners do the same - the same can be done for many repeat traffic generators like coupons, e-specials, e-zines, etc.

    • every repeat traffic generator provides an opportunity for permission marketing - make sure you use it
  • Incentive Based Permission Marketing
    • to increase the response to any permission marketing opportunity you might consider offering an incentive. “Sign up to receive our Internet only e-specials and be included in draw for [something of internet to your target market].    

    • You can also offer a free gift to new e-members or subscribers - it could be a sample of one of your products or an e-book on a topic of interest to your target market.


  • Incorporating Permission Marketing with every Viral Marketing element
    • wherever you use viral marketing on your Web site ("send a copy to a friend"...."tell a friend about"...."send this coupon to a friend"...) make sure that you take advantage of the permission opportunity as well - for example if the viral marketing element is "send a copy of the newsletter to a friend" make sure that you have an opportunity for the friend to now give you permission or to subscribe to the newsletter. For example: If you have received a copy of this newsletter from a friend and would like to subscribe yourself click here.

    • I am a real proponent of squeezing every ounce of marketing oomph out of everything that you do so make sure that you take full advantage of the landing page. Taking the above example a step further make sure that when they "click here" to subscribe themselves that you have made the landing page sticky - you are encouraging the visitor to visit other pages on your Web site through the content on the landing page.

  • Privacy Concerns
    • never send your target market anything that they did not ask to receive, and never use their personal information for anything other than what they were told they were signing up for.

    • misuse of permission marketing damages your relationship with your target market because you have violated their trust and can also lead to bad publicity

    • privacy and security policies should be prominently displayed because people like to know how their personal information will be handled and are very reluctant to hand over their details to a company or organization that does not explain how their information will be used.


    2. Tools

    Check out the following Web sites that feature permission marketing solutions.

    • Mailworkz
      Using the power of advanced design tools, easy-to-use interface and campaign management features, you can create and send your personalized bulk e-mail campaigns, newsletters, weekly specials, support tips or marketing messages in an effective and efficient manner.

    • TrueFire's Mail Dog
      Mail Dog makes permission e-mail marketing easy, affordable and profitable for businesses of all sizes. Create, send and track professional e-mail marketing campaigns and newsletters quickly and easily from any Internet connection. Mail Dog puts over 100 do-it-yourself pro tools at your fingertips to help you drive sales, acquire new business and stay connected with customers.

    • ENewsNotifier
      A powerful permission marketing solution that allows you to set up and maintain your permission marketing campaign. Worth checking out. Some of its users include Esquire Magazine, the Dallas Symphony and the New York Knicks

    3. Techniques

    • Newsletters
      • ask visitors if they would like to receive notification of new products, updates to your site, relevant tips, advice, industry news, and so on—whatever might be of interest to your target market
      • integrate strategic promotional opportunities to encourage the user to come back to your site or to take some other course of action - people who sign up to receive your newsletter do so because they have a clear interest in what it is you have to say.
      • if your newsletter is about recent happenings in your business or new product updates, encourage the user to “click here” to see the updates and then, when they do, transport them to your Web site
    • Contests and Sweepstakes
      • directly under the e-mail address entry field should be the option for the visitor to sign up to receive details on the latest hot deals at your site
      • ousers enter the contest, they should be sent an e-mail confirmation stating that the entry was received - also include in the e-mail a viral marketing call to action to tell others about the contest as well as a call to action for the user to visit the site and shop around
      • make sure that you notify all entrants who enter your contest when the winner is selected
      • ask visitors if they would like to be notified when new contests are added to your site
    • Examples of permission marketing techniques in use:
      • “We change our coupons every week! Click here to join our mail list to be notified as soon as we update.”
      • "Click here to join our mail list and receive our bi-weekly Internet marketing tips, tools, techniques, and resources newsletter.”
      • “We have new specials on a regular basis. Click here to be notified by e-mail when we post our new specials."
      • “We have a new contest every three weeks. Keep checking back or Click here if you’d like to be notified by e-mail every time we begin a new contest.”
      • “We constantly update our Calendar of Events. Keep checking back or Click here if you’d like to be notified by e-mail every time we update.”

    4. Resources

    I have included a couple of resources for you to check out when developing your permission marketing campaign. For additional resources on a variety of topics, I recommend you visit the resources section of my Web site at There you will find additional tips, tools, techniques and resources.

    • Permission Marketing Tips by Netconcepts
      "Building a trusting relationship with your Web site visitors starts with the common sense approach known as "permission marketing." The idea behind permission marketing..." more>>
    • Good Email Marketing
      "There are legitimate and useful ways to use e-mail for marketing and communications. The most effective of these methods is permission-based, or opt-in, marketing..." more>>

    • Permission Marketing Begins with Your List
      Learn to differentiate the various types of getting permission to build an email list. By creating a legitimate email list, you will be able to reach your targeted customers without the fear of being labeled as a spammer.

    • ClickZ: Permission Marketing
      You should look at ClickZ’s section on permission marketing, updated weekly by Nick Usborne.

    • The Direct Marketing Association
      Web site of The Direct Marketing Association, the leading direct-marketing organization.

    • Permission Marketing
      An interesting article on permission marketing by’s editor, William Taylor.  

    • Seth Godin’s Web Site
      Seth Godin is author of four books that have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change and work. His book Permission Marketing was an Top 100 bestseller for a year, a Fortune Best Business Book and it spent four months on the Business Week bestseller list. It also appeared on the New York Times business book bestseller list. Check out his site for lots of info on permission marketing.

    • Visit my Web site at