Permission marketing is marketing centered around gaining a customer’s consent to receive information from you and building an ongoing relationship. The opposite of permission marketing would be interruptive marketing. TV ads are interruptive marketing. We didn’t ask to watch them and most of the time they are irrelevant to our needs or desires. TV ads can, however, venture into permission marketing by placing an 800 number or email address in their ads and asking viewers to “raise their hand” for a special giveaway.
Permission marketing occurs offline with the example of the TV ad and also billboards, direct mail, and magazine ads, as well as online. As long as there is a call to action that requires the reader or viewer to do something to raise their hand and ask you to send them information, that is permission.
Here are 10 questions that I took directly from the book to use in evaluating your own permission marketing program.
- What’s the bait? Yep, that one’s pretty self-explanatory, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind. There needs to be a benefit to the subscriber and the more valuable that benefit, the more likely you’ll get a higher number of subscribers. It should be easy to describe. The bait should complement your current products and services. For example, if you sell sunscreen, you shouldn’t offer a video on how to survive Alaska winters. Bait can be a prize, coupon, entertainment, membership to a club, or information on an interesting subject.
- What does an incremental permission cost? How much does it cost to get one person signed up? If you run an ad, this is calculated by dividing the cost of the ad by the number expected to sign up. After the ad runs, you can recalculate this to get actual cost. For online and direct mail, it’s an analysis of media costs divided by permission. Permission does cost something and figuring out its worth is important in maximizing your return on investment.
- How deep is the permission that’s granted? Make it clear what someone is signing up for. If by signing up for your free report they are subscribed to your monthly newsletter, be sure they know that. However, six months later if you decide to start emailing a daily quote, they did not sign up for that and have not given you permission. You can ask for it, but you can’t assume that you have permission to go from monthly newsletters to daily quotes.
- How much does increment frequency cost? In other words, how much does it cost to send one marketing message to one person? Email will cost fractions of a penny when you take into account the cost of your email marketing program and the Virtual Assistant that makes it happen. Direct mail could cost between 30 cents and $2.
- What’s the active response rate to communications? How many people write back or take action on your message? What can you do to improve that and make your message more relevant?
- What are the issues regarding compression? In other words, what do you do when someone’s interest starts to diminish? Do you have the ability to increase the bait to regain their attention? The book gave a great example of a frequent fliers club. If a consumer’s flying habits started to taper off, indicating they might be flying with another airline, this would be a great opportunity to offer additional rewards to re-engage their business. It costs less to keep current clients than it costs to attract new ones.
- Is the company treating the permission as an asset? Just like business owners know their assets, whether it’s money in the bank or inventory on the shelves, you should be aware of how wide and how deep your permission is. Over time the permission asset can be leveraged and increased and if that investment is measured, your ROI can be determined.
- How is the permission being leveraged? Once built, it is possible to leverage your permission. One example I see with my clients is promoting someone else’s call or product that is still relevant to my clients’ audience.
- How is the permission being increased? Amazon is a great example of increasing permission. When you first go to Amazon and buy something they have a little permission and may email you occasionally. As you buy more items using your login, they gain more knowledge and more permission. Somewhere along the lines I opted in to receive daily Kindle specials. Yes, I’m sure I said I wanted them at some point because I do have a Kindle and I do buy quite a few books on it. So I went from receiving maybe a weekly email to a daily email relevant to what interests me.
- What is the expected lifetime of one permission? In the book, Seth asks “What’s the lifetime value of the permission?” And continues, if transient (i.e., tourist attraction), the amount you’re willing to invest should be less than it would be when permission can last a very long time. Marketers win when they convert what’s perceived as short term permission cycle to one that lasts for a much longer period.
So how are you doing with your marketing? Are you taking advantage of the permission granted to you? Are you not leveraging it enough? Would love to hear your thoughts!