Permission Marketing: The Four Noble Truths


Quick question: Does it happen to you that you get complaints about your marketing SMS and/or emails? Even threats to go to the police or fill a complaint with their carrier or ISP about your SPAM? Do you invest a bunch of money in marketing campaigns just to get poor results and hear that your clients are upset and had enough of them? Ok, here’s a heads up: SPAM is dead, and also.. it’s so 90s, right? We can do way better than that.

How about if your clients were actually ASKING you to send them more newsletters, or more special offers and discounts? Perhaps they would also wonder (and even ask you) what happened last week when they didn’t receive their weekly offer? How great would it be that your clients refer new potential clients to you? This is the world of “Permission Marketing”.

Meet “Permission Marketing”

“Permission Marketing” is a term coined and presented by Seth Godin in 1999 in his book under the same name, and has been a huge success in the marketing world since then.

It is about forging long-term relationships with your customers based on trust and respect. It means that perhaps you wont get sales or benefits right away, but you will be able to reach a bigger audience and be significantly more effective in the long term.

Even more, you might be able to know a lot more of each and every one of your customers, and with such a valuable information it will be easier to better target marketing campaigns and offers that will have a higher acceptance rate, and thus be more successful.

Let’s see a few basic rules to follow when developing an attitude towards Permission Marketing.

1. Information is a privilege, not a right

Having the phone number, email address, or personal information of a person does not give you the right to send them stuff. Even more when this is a telephone number, and even more when this is a mobile phone number being carried inside a pocket while driving, or on the table during lunch, or on the nightstand when sleeping.

It is a privilege to have the contact information of anyone, it gives you the power to reach that person any time you want, and as you know, with any given power there’s a responsibility associated with it. Use it wisely. If you keep spamming people they will just get tired of you and will block you out of their mobiles, emails, and of course, their life.

2. Ask first, send later.

Let your clients or users decide if they want you to use their contact information. Let them tell you exactly what kind of updates they are really interested in. Let them gradually decide that they want to hear more (or less) from you.

For example, people would perfectly want their bank to send them notifications about financial transactions, but perhaps they’re not interested in receiving special offers, news, or publicity from them. Maybe in the future they see that those offers are really tempting, so they should have a way to ask for them.

If your clients can opt-in and out from your updates they will get confident and even decide to try other updates or newsfeed that might be interesting for them in the long run. Let them also choose how frequent they would like to receive any information.

3. It’s all about respect and trust

Being trusted by your clients is the ultimate challenge when discussing marketing.

Trust means that your clients know you respect them. Trust means that your clients know your brand and will pay attention to what you have to say instead of just discarding the message as soon as they see where it’s coming from. Trust means that you will honor your word and make good use of the power of having their contact information. Trust means that you wont be sending them a message at 2am. Trust means that you will only use the power you have to send them information they will appreciate.

4. Honor your commitments

If a client is subscribed to weekly updates for some specific items, don’t send anything more than exactly that. If you make a mistake and accidentally send something that you shouldn’t have (it’s ok, it happens), apologize by briefly explaining the mistake. This is really appreciated by people, so take the chance to build more trust out of a mistake.


When applying these rules to their new marketing campaigns (and overall company behavior), our customers noticed a significant increase in good feedback in the customer experience area in just a few months. Also, more people subscribed to receive SMS related to their favorite products and coupons. Sales didn’t ramp up, but they are slowly and steadily growing, along with a customer base with better and cleaner information. Newer campaigns tend to be better targeted and are better received by the consumers.

— The PortaText Team.