Priya Nain
Author: Priya Nain  |  

Product & Email marketer at Mindvalley. Making stuff less boring to read. Infrequent Trekker. Nice girl, rarely mean.


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Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. ~Seth Godin

This phrase ‘permission marketing’ was coined by Seth Godin in 2008 & applies to all kinds of marketing.

This concept makes more sense now than ever before when people can skip ads, tune out the notifications, mark you spam, unsubscribe or never even say yes to getting emails from you if you bombard them without knowing if they want to hear from you or not.

For email marketing, it means getting a recipient’s consent to send them emails about what you promised when they opted-in to get those emails.

The opposite of permission-based email marketing is when you purchase a list, or scrap email addresses from social media or websites and send them content for which they didn’t sign up for.

First of all, it isn’t legal to do so, and secondly, these people are not even aware of your brand and will mark you spam, hurting your email delivery rate.

Why permission-based email marketing is good for your business?

  • Once you have someone’s attention, then you just have to put your best content, best product out there and they will be your patrons or customers. This means a high ROI.
  • The cost of engaging people in further conversations, converting them to customers, and then to high-end customers is low compared to any other channel. This means a low investment, more profits, more creative work.
  • Interested people don’t mark you spam or unsubscribe in large numbers. This keeps your domain reputation high and your emails are less likely to crash land in the spam box and more likely to safely land in the recipient’s inbox.

How to get permission?

A subscription form coupled with an opt-in confirmation email is the most common way to ensure you have absolute permission to send emails to a particular address. It’s called a double opt-in. Let me explain how it works:

Step 1 is to ask the person visiting your website, your booth in an event, or visiting your shop to drop their email address with you. You can use a subscription form on your website or an excel sheet at your event.

An example of subscription form at nesslanbs.com showing exactly what to expect in your inbox if you give you emails address.

Step 2 is to send them an email on the address they gave and confirm that they would like to receive emails from you.

It’s called opt-in confirmation email.

A double-opt-in process is still preferred, as it confirms that the email address is for a valid, monitored inbox & not a fake or bot email. It’s highly recommended if you are not chasing audience growth but more qualified leads.

It’s true that some people go through step 1 and are lazy to check their inbox for an opt-in confirmation email.

In that case, you can go for single-opt in, meaning people can put their email address in the subscription form and they get added to your broadcast list without a second step.

This has disadvantages too.

You can end up with fake emails from people who enter random emails just to get your free PDF or a lead magnet or genuine subscribers can make a typo in their addresses.

You will be left wondering, ‘who is that guy?’

Now, since non-valid emails in your list won’t have any engagement, it will reduce your email delivery to single-digit non-integers  

Getting permission once doesn’t mean someone can’t take it back. As Seth Godin rightly quoted, it’s a privilege, not your right.

So, two things to help folks who want to opt-out are:

  • Unsubscribe link - instead of sending emails to people not interested in your content or products and who might mark those spam, it’s better to let them unsubscribe and avoid the consequences of spam complaints on your marketing efforts.
  • Link to manage email preferences - Let your subscribers choose the frequency and type of emails they would want to receive. It will only increase engagement and, reduce spam complaints. And if they ever feel FOMO about the content they are not getting, they might get back to the regular, maximum frequency.

These links need to be placed in the footer of every email you send out so they are clearly visible and accessible without bothering with email content.

Make it easy to find. Else, there is a high chance people will just mark your emails spam.

Permission-based email marketing is not a shortcut unlike purchasing or scraping emails but this long term strategy is proven to work with all kinds of businesses, newsletters, and campaigns.

Implementing is not even an effort or price intensive task as a good email marketing software (ESP) will be able to take care of - subscription form, sending an opt-in confirmation email, adding them to your broadcast list & even removing when unsubscribed.

All of this is done automatically.

If you are looking for an ESP that can help you implement permission-based, you should check out SendX. It’s an easy subscriber with just an email and no credit cards are required. They don’t want to see your shiny bucks until you are fully impressed. So checkout SendX for free for 14 days.