Permission Marketing – Getting it Right

Permission marketing has its roots in the context of privacy issues surrounding direct marketing. Permission marketing grew from the general public’s distaste for cold calling, automatic dialing and other potentially annoying activities that increased during the 1990s. When email came into the picture and electronic spam began to affect people, there were calls for tighter controls on marketers wishing to communicate with potential buyers.

The direct marketing industry took note and paid for the introduction of the UK Telephone Preference Service (TPS) which allows private individuals to register their wish not to receive unsolicited sales and marketing telephone calls. Since May 1999 It has been a legal requirement that companies do not make such calls to numbers registered on the TPS.

Permission marketing has moved on. No longer is it just viewed as a means of reducing concerns surrounding privacy of personal information. It is now seen as a valuable tool for building a relationship of trust with an individual. Once permission has been sought and given, Consumer data is used to understand, improve and add value to the marketing relationship.

Seth Godin refers to this as the difference between presumed or legal permission and what he terms “real permission”. Real permission from an individual is gaind when they complain if your communications fail to turning up – rather than when they do.

Most forward thinking companies understand the importance of both saying and doing the right things when it comes to customer data security. The aim of the marketer is not simply to get legal permission to send an email or make a phone call; but rather to get Godin’s “real permission” to have a long lasting fruitful communication with a customer who comes to value the relationship as much as the marketer does.

Simple steps towards permission marketing

Start with quality lists

Whether you are buying, renting or using your own consumer data list, it is your responsibility to make sure the people you are targeting want to receive information from you.

Using a list broker to source existing consumer data is definitely the best way to get the ball rolling. These data lists have already been built. Cleansed and maintained to ensure they meet legal requirements and follow current best practice.

Keep talking

If someone has opted in and agreed to hear from you, it doesn’t make any sense to remain silent. Even if you don’t have a major story or big campaign on the go. Permission marketing allows you to maintain regular communication with your interested audience, all at low cost. Therefore daily RSS feeds, monthly e-newsletters or a personalised weekly bulletin full of products and offers relevant. To that consumer are great ways of continuing the dialogue that they opted in to.

Don’t break your promises

A word of caution – don’t bombard your audience with unnecessary messages. Use the data you hold on your consumers wisely to personalise offers and adhere to your promise of how regularly you will contact them. Too much communication is even more damaging than too little.

Encourage two-way communication

Use your on-line communications with your prospects as a two way process. Provide them opportunities for feedback and to update what they want to hear about from you and in what format. Are they still happy with electronic communications, do they want to receive catalogues through the post? Would they rather have a phone conversation with someone?

Above all, be open

It is essential that you win the trust of your audience. Be open about how you capture, use and store their personal data. Reassure them of its safety and make sure you have a robust privacy policy in place and easily available.

Also be open about your “opt-out” process. Be clear about how individual’s can do this and provide them with the opportunity to do so. See “opting-out” as a means of data cleansing, removing disinterested consumers to allow you to concentrate on warmer leads.