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How to use permission marketing properly

How to use permission marketing properly

By Matt McNeill, founder and CEO of, which provides tools to enable marketers to run their permission-based email and mobile marketing campaigns in-house.

Permission Marketing can be one of the most powerful weapons in the marketers armoury, enabling highly profitable, lasting customer relationships to be developed at very little cost.
However, like any weapon it needs to be deployed properly in order to avoid unintended damage!
One of the most suitable, and often most misused channels for Permission Marketing is email and so these rules are specifically orientated to this channel although apply in general to all others.
There are several core principles of permission marketing, which should never be violated as the repercussions can be very damaging for your brand.

You have to ask for permission

The key to establishing a permission marketing relationship with a consumer is to first ask them if they want to be contacted by you. You need to gain active opt-in consent to communicate with them – this confirms their interest and ensures you stay on the right side of the law.
There are many ways that you can make this process more enticing and rewarding for the consumer (competitions, free gifts etc.) but always make the process transparent and spell out clearly what consumers should expect from you.

Permission implies trust, and that should always be respected

A consumer handing over their personal data and giving permission for you to stay in contact and therefore occupy their time is a big deal. You need to ensure that you respect their trust by guarding their data and not wasting their time.

Make sure your marketing messages are relevant and don’t inundate them with communications – remember Permission Marketing is about building long term relationships with value for both parties. You also need to respect their trust by making it easy for them to opt-out and end the relationship.

Permission is not transferable

Permission to stay in contact is given direct from a consumer to another person or a brand and that permission is always restricted to that relationship. It can’t be transferred to another brand or person without the active participation of the consumer.

Vague ‘third party opt-ins’ don’t count and violate the trust relationship. Permission has to be earned, it can’t be bought and sold – so don’t be tempted!

Trust has to be built over time

Or to put it another way, patience is a virtue. Start your relationship by requesting the minimal possible data – this makes the process easier to complete and reduces trust issues if people are just getting to know you. Work out the minimum possible data you need and start there.

Over time you can build up the data you hold as your relationship develops – once consumers see they’re interested in what you have to say they’re far more likely to provide you with more information and you can then use this to refine your communications with them.

Don’t confront everyone with a 50 field form and expect a good response. Start simple and build form there.

Get personal

Use the data you gather to personalise your communications. This can start as simply as greeting the consumer by name but over time it should build into something more rewarding for both of you.

Analyse your statistics to isolate what interests particular consumers and tailor follow-up communications to suit. This builds trust with the consumer as you’re showing respect for their time and interests and should lead to better results for you!

Remember that Permission Marketing has more of a long-term focus than many techniques and focus on providing real value for your consumers - ensure that your marketing follows these core principles and you’re one the way to a successful campaign.

(C) Matt McNeill 2007. All rights reserved.

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