Permission marketing
Permission marketing is a term popularized by Seth Godin
Seth Godin
Seth Godin is an American entrepreneur, author and public speaker. Godin popularized the topic of permission marketing.-Background:...

 (but found earlier )
used in marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...

 in general and e-marketing specifically. The undesirable opposite of permission marketing is interruption marketing. Marketers obtain permission before advancing to the next step in the purchasing process. For example, they ask permission to send email newsletters to prospective customers. It is mostly used by online marketers, notably email marketers and search marketers, as well as certain direct marketers who send a catalog in response to a request.

This form of marketing requires that the prospective customer has either given explicit permission for the marketer to send their promotional message (like an email or catalog request) or implicit permission (like querying a search engine). This can be either via an online email opt-in form or by using search engines, which implies a request for information which can include that of a commercial nature. To illustrate, consider someone who searches for "buy shoes." Online shoe stores have searchers' permission to make an offer that solves their shoe problem.

Marketers feel that this is a more efficient use of their resources because the offers are sent to people only if actually interested in the product
Product (business)
In general, the product is defined as a "thing produced by labor or effort" or the "result of an act or a process", and stems from the verb produce, from the Latin prōdūce ' lead or bring forth'. Since 1575, the word "product" has referred to anything produced...

. This is one technique used by marketers that have a personal marketing orientation. Marketers feel that marketing should be done on a one-to-one basis rather than using broad aggregated concepts like market segment
Market segment
Market segmentation is a concept in economics and marketing. A market segment is a sub-set of a market made up of people or organizations with one or more characteristics that cause them to demand similar product and/or services based on qualities of those products such as price or function...

 or target market
Target market
A target market is a group of customers that the business has decided to aim its marketing efforts and ultimately its merchandise. A well-defined target market is the first element to a marketing strategy...


In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, an opt-in is required for email marketing, under The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 since 11 December 2003.

Permission marketing and the internet

Permission marketing offers the promise of improving targeting by helping consumers interface with marketers most likely to provide relevant promotional messages. Many permission-marketing firms (like yes, now part of the business incubator CMGI) claim that customer response rates are in the region of 5-20%, and since most use e-mail, they are not affected by the measurement problems of banner advertising. Since the ads arrive in the mailbox of the individual, it is likely that more attention would be paid to them in comparison to banners.

Even though permission marketing can be implemented in any direct medium, it has emerged as a serious idea only with the advent of the Internet. The two reasons for this are that on the Internet, the cost of marketer-to-consumer communication is low, and the Internet enabled rapid feedback mechanisms due to instantaneous two-way communication.

Another motivation for permission marketing on the Web has been the failure of the direct mail approach of sending unsolicited promotional messages. The prime example of this is unsolicited commercial e-mail or “Spam”. Senders of spam realize three things: the cost of obtaining a new e-mail address is minimal, the marginal cost of contacting an additional customer is nearly zero and it is easy to deceive the consumer.

Spammers can easily obtain new e-mail addresses from websites and Usenet groups using software programs that “trawl” the Internet. Individuals provide their addresses at these places for other purposes and hence, this violates their privacy rights. In addition, marketers incur similar costs if they send out 1 million or 10 million e-mails. Moreover, there are now programs that enable the large-scale use of deceptive practices (like forged e-mail headers).

Because of those problems, spam cannot be a legitimate form of marketing communication. Using it would lead to an excessive message volume for consumers, weakening of brand reputation and a slowing of the entire network. Hence, permission marketing is seen as a feasible alternative for Internet marketing communication.

Permission marketing is now a large-scale activity on the Internet. A leading Internet business periodical noted that "permission marketing was once a niche business. Now, everybody is doing it." In addition, permission marketing has been incorporated in leading texts on marketing management like a millennium edition.

See also

  • Relationship marketing
    Relationship marketing
    Relationship marketing was first defined as a form of marketing developed from direct response marketing campaigns which emphasizes customer retention and satisfaction, rather than a dominant focus on sales transactions....

  • Choice architecture
    Choice architecture
    Choice architecture describes the way in which decisions are influenced by how the choices are presented , and is a term used by Cass Sunstein and economist Richard Thaler in the 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness...

  • Inbound marketing
    Inbound marketing
    Note: The sole purpose of this article is to disambiguate two pairs of meanings of inbound and outbound marketing. Please see the linked articles for in-depth information on the respective meanings....

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