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Direct to Consumer Brand Discovery

  Online Marketing Whitepaper

Online Marketing Whitepaper


The Imperfect World of Quantifying Website Traffic

Online Advertising Lingo

Necessities for Every Company with a Website

Paid Advertising

Leveraging the True Power of the Internet

Bootstrap Marketing Online


A Dated Introduction to Online Marketing*

*Note: This is the original version of a whitepaper that was authored in 2001 by iCondotta's founder and principal consultant, Stephan Aarstol. It's a useful primer, but dated - pre-Wikipedia (2001), pre-Google AdWords PPC (2002), way pre-YouTube (2005), you get the picture...

Permission Marketing

Seth Godin coined the term “Permission marketing” in the late 1990’s. The concept of permission marketing is centered on the idea that in order for marketing to be effective, it needs to be both anticipated and relevant. In other words, unless consumers expressly ask to be exposed to your company’s marketing messages, you’re usually wasting your time by marketing to them because they won’t register your message. While this has become more and more true over the last fifty years, two very powerful marketing realities that have surfaced in the last few decades have made it truer than ever. These are:

1. Consumers are becoming more and more overloaded with unsolicited marketing messages every day. The clutter has become so bad that some argue that consumers are experiencing information overload. The cost effectiveness of direct email marketing (no need to even buy stamps) is accelerating this trend at an even faster pace. As a result, a good portion of traditional advertising, or what Seth Godin calls “Interruption Marketing”, is systematically becoming less and less effective.

2. Due primarily to the connectivity provided by the Internet, consumer access to all forms of information has dramatically increased. Consumers are no longer at an information disadvantage when buying products or services. Today’s Internet powered consumers can effortlessly find all the available alternative product or service choices and comparison shop, often times, with the help of other consumer or professional opinions. Knowledge is power, and the power has slid down the supply chain over the past few decades from manufacturer to distributor to consumer. Today, consumers call the shots.

According to Seth Godin, the recommended course of action that marketers should take in response to these realities is to focus more on permission marketing. Ensure that your marketing correspondences are relevant, anticipated and desired.

The whole key to permission marketing is that the audience you market to can’t be strangers. After all, how can a company possibly direct a relevant and anticipated marketing message to a group of unknown consumers? They can’t. So the first step in any permission marketing campaign is to collect information that can be used in that campaign. Ironically, unless you’ve already got the necessary information you need for all the consumers you’re targeting, you usually have to resort to “Interruption Marketing”. Make no mistake, permission marketing is by no means a replacement to traditional “Interruption Marketing”, rather, it’s just powerful supplemental marketing technique.

The interactive capability of Internet advertising has really unlocked the promise of large-scale permission marketing initiatives. You can’t collect information by placing an ad on TV, radio, or in print because there’s no frictionless means for the audience to respond. Internet advertising is another story. Every ad has the potential to direct people to a form where information can be collected, or the information collection mechanism can even be encased within the ad. All that’s left is to compel the ad viewers to provide the necessary information and their express permission to send future correspondences.

The bread and butter of permission marketing is convincing members of your target market to give you their unequivocal “permission” to send them marketing messages. The only way consumers will likely give permission is if something of sufficient perceived value is in it for them. Even after you get the initial permission, you can lose it at any moment if you abuse the relationship. Permission marketing is a journey, not a destination. The more value you provide to the consumer over time, the stronger your bond of trust grows and the more open the consumer becomes to your marketing suggestions.

Some popular methods of launching permission marketing campaign on the Internet include:

1. Offering an entry into a contest or sweepstakes in exchange for contact information and permission to send future marketing correspondences on a particular topic.

2. Offering a free email newsletter on a topic of interest in exchange for permission to include messages from sponsors in the emails.

3 . Offering a free white paper or e-book on a topic of interest in exchange for contact information and permission to send future marketing correspondences on a particular topic.

4. Offering a convenient service such as reminders of birthdays and other special dates in exchange for permission to include messages from sponsors in the reminders.

5. Offering email updates on deals or sales on items of interest in exchange for contact information and permission to notify the consumer when these sales or deals occur.

In addition to Internet initiatives, the effectiveness of permission marketing can be leveraged by traditional offline brick-n-mortar activities. A well-known card and gift retailer did a permission marketing campaign a few years ago with limited edition Christmas ornaments. At the point of purchase, the counter person offered the customer a free service whereby the customer could receive an email notifying them when next year’s collection was available. Sales skyrocketed immediately after the following year’s email announcement. The marketing message was both anticipated and relevant, and so it was wildly effective. That’s the power of permission marketing.

>> Viral Marketing

Authored in 2001 by Stephan Aarstol
while Director of Business Development