Permission Marketing Is The Key To Email Marketing

Filed in Email Marketing by on April 9, 2010 4 Comments

Permission marketing keeps you effective and out of trouble

Permission means to give formal consent to another person. When using email to market your business, you want to have permission from your prospects and customers.

Permission is smart marketing

In his groundbreaking book, Permission Marketing, Seth Godin talks about  getting permission from your prospects before marketing to them.

Sounds odd right? You may ask – “who on earth is going to give me permission to market to them?”

But that’s the point. If you don’t have permission – they are tuning you out anyway.

And furthermore, we give people permission to market to us all the time. You probably have a buyers card for your local grocery store. They send you targeted coupons based on your purchases right?

And if you shop on Amazon, you’ll notice that they recommend books and products  based on your past purchases (ahem…marketing). You have given Amazon permission to do this.

Avoiding spam accusations

Not going to jail is an excellent reason to get permission from prospects. According to CAN-SPAM,  a US law passed in 2003, all email messages must:

  • Offer a method for the recipient to opt-out (unsubscribe).
  • Contain the sender’s valid physical postal address.

The law is in place to keep emails transparent and prevent spammers from attempting to hijack the space inside your inbox with their messages. You can read all the gritty details on the FTC website.

By getting your prospects to give permission before you start sending emails you will avoid spam accusations.

What permission email marketing looks like

Let’s take a closer look at what it means to gain permission when doing effective email marketing.

Move your readers through the “permission funnel”

You don’t need to take your prospects out to dinner and a movie, but it would serve you well to think about romancing them.

Yes – I said romance.

You want to make money by giving people value and then asking for a fraction of that value back in the form of money. In order to get to this place people need to know, like and trust you.

Which brings us back to that word permission again.

Here’s how it works.  The goal is to start with someone who has interest in your products and services and get them to start a conversation with you.

After this invite them to join your email list. Then you can begin to offer value.

As you show them the value that you provide, be sure to ask them to take small action steps to show their level of interest in the relationship.

This could be an invitation to a free teleseminar or an offer to download a free whitepaper or report. Psychologically you are getting them to raise their hand and show that they are committed to continuing the relationship.

Invite them to make a small purchase. Next, ask them to take a bigger action which in turn can lead to a larger purchase. During this whole process keep adding value to their business and life.

I call this a “permission funnel.” Visually, this is how this process looks.

Interest  –> Opt in (subscribe to your email list) –>  Small action (raise their hand) –>  Small purchase –>  Grow a relationship  –> Bigger action –>  Larger purchase –> Deeper relationship

It all starts with the email opt-in

When your starting with email marketing for your business, I recommend that you use a double opt-in. Double opt-in means that after a prospect subscribes to your list they must confirm their email before receiving future messages from you. It insures that you have…

you guessed it – PERMISSION.

Remember when I said to treat an email like the Holy Grail. I meant it. It all starts when your customer decides to give you their precious email address.

They are giving you permission to email them in the future. Treat that address like gold. Treat it well and don’t abuse what they’ve entrusted you with. It’s the key that will unlock many sales and opportunities for you.

How to get permission

Put your prospect at ease

Let prospects know their email address is safe with you. It is important to assure your prospects you won’t abuse, rent, sell or spam their email address. So many people have been burned after trusting their email to a company. Be very straightforward and put their mind at ease.

Help them know what to expect from you

Be clear about what value you are providing and how frequently. If you send out daily emails, state that on your opt-in form and repeat it on your thank you page.

Choose email marketing software that takes care of the details

You should know where I stand on email marketing software companies by now – See our list of recommended providers here. But I’ll say this – choose an ESP that has double opt-in, insists on CAN-SPAM compliance and has good customer service.

Today’s 10 Minute Exercise: Write your opt in promise

If permission is the goal, you need to do everything in your power to make prospects comfortable giving you their email.

Spend the next ten minutes writing out your promise. Let them know you won’t rent or sell their address. Let them know they can unsubscribe from your email list at any time.

Here is an example:

“We hate spam as much as you do. We will not rent or sell your email address and you can unsubscribe at any time. By joining our list you will receive weekly coupons and discounts to our store.”

Now go take action.

While your at it – you should give us permission to add value to your business by subscribing to our email newsletter. Each week we send out tips and strategies to teach you how to capture leads, generate more sales and double your business profits using social media. We won’t sell or rent your address to any third party. (How’s that for practicing what we preach?)


Toolset Note: While there are many email marketing services out there, we use Aweber email marketing software. They are inexpensive, have great customer service and will help you build an effective email marketing list quickly.


Joel Mark Witt is the Publisher of Folk Media and author of 21 Days To Twitter Leadership. He is a producer, author, and speaker who consults with businesses and nonprofits on how to use social media in marketing and communications. Get more from Joel on Twitter or Google Buzz.


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“The CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business”. FTC.

“Definitions and Implementation Under the CAN-SPAM Act”.  FTC.

“The CAN-SPAM Act: Requirements for Commercial Emailers”. Cybertelecom.

*photo by dotbenjamin

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  1. leanne miles says:

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