Permission marketing is a notion introduced in 1999 by Seth Godin in the book with the same name. It represents a tailored marketing strategy to sell products or services when prior consent is given by consumers.

Characteristics of permission marketing

In his book, Seth Godin defined permission marketing as:

  • Anticipated: consumers expect the offer and being approached for the sale;
  • Personal: there is a tailored-made offer sent to each potential customer who has given their consent to receive it;
  • Relevant: the offer needs to answer to existing or potential customer needs in order for them to consider it.

Levels in permission marketing

  • Situational: the potential customer grants permission to receive information from the part of the business in a specific matter.
  • Brand trust: the consumer entrusts the brand name that allows notifications from the business on a wider range of products/services.
  • Personal relationship: the customer develops a personal connection with the business and therefore grants consent to receive more information.
  • Personalized packages: at this point, the customer has established a business connection and is given incentives and reductions in order to continue it.
  • Intravenous permission: the customer is dependent on the business for the supply of a specific product/service.

Benefits to permission marketing

  1. Reducing marketing costs: in this age, it is mostly done online (social media, newsletters etc.) and since advance consent was given, it reduces the costs for businesses who are trying to attract new customers.
  2. Higher rate of success: since potential clients have expressed an interest in the product/service, it is more likely to turn these leads into sales.
  3. Customization: permission marketing by itself allows businesses to select target audiences based on their age, gender, geographical location, etc.
  4. Potential long-lasting relationships with the customer: through a customized approach, customer retention is more likely.
  5. Higher marketing reputation: unlike interruption marketing, potential customers have given their prior consent to receiving information concerning services or products they are interested in, therefore there is no apprehension from their part.

Drawbacks to permission marketing

  1. Difficulty in maintaining marketing reputation: in an environment where intrusive marketing seems to be the norm, permission marketing appears like a fitting solution, however, it requires more attention and consideration in order to gain customer consent in the first place. Depending on the market, some marketing strategies may be more successful than others (e.g. sponsored ads, personalized phone calls, free consultations etc.)
  2. Higher costs related to preparation in developing a customized approach: the business would need to offer a personalized relevant offer in order to transform the lead into a sale and the costs involved are higher in the beginning. Sometimes, these customized offers are offered by highly specialized people who need to be paid in advance and separately from the customer acquiring.