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Permission, Part 1

Before I can talk about permission and how a mailer can collect permission from a recipient to send them email I really need to define what I mean by permission as there are multiple definitions used by various players in the market. Permission marketing was a term coined by Seth Godin in his book entitled Permission Marketing.

The underlying concept beneath permission marketing is that all marketing should be “anticipated, personal and relevant.” Others have defined permission marketing as consumers volunteering or requesting to be marketed to.

When I talk about permission in the email marketing context I mean that the recipient understood *at the time they provided the sender with an email address* that they would receive email from that sender as a result.

Let’s look at some of the relevant parts of that definition.

  1. The recipient provides the sender with their email address. The sender does not harvest addresses, the sender does not append email addresses to customer records. The sender does not purchase lists of interested parties. The sender has to get the email address directly from the recipient, or someone the recipient has authorized to give the sender permission.
  2. The sender notifies the recipient, at the time of collection, that providing an address will result in email to that address.
  3. The recipient has the ability to choose if they would like to receive email from the sender.

Sending only permission based email marketing creates a relationship with the recipient, and generates interest and anticipation. Not only does this reduce the number of complaints and unsubscriptions, it increases the chance that the recipient will miss the email if it is bulk foldered or lost.

That’s the definition of permission I’ll be using in posts.

Next post I’ll talk about how to collect and use permission.

[1] Outside of some narrow cases.

Permission, Part 2

2 comments

  1. fiat lux says

    When you talk about permission, I’d love to see some comments on how to deal with permission and a long-term existing customer base. My employer has some customers who literally have been buying their product for 10, 15, even 20 years, long before opt-in became an issue.

    Affirmatively asking for their permission to send them e-mail after so many years seems weird, but not having affirmative permission from them isn’t really right either.

  2. laura says

    Do you collect email addresses from your customer base? If they’re giving you an email address that’s a level of permission right there. There are things you can do to gauge who, in that group, wants to receive email from you without seeming to be asking “can we email you?”

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