E-mail Permission Marketing: it works!

In 1999 Seth Godin wrote an incredible book called “Permission Marketing” (you can check out part of “Permission Marketing” for free at Amazon or could read the entire first four chapters if you e-mail me at damian [at] idaconcpts [dot] com,  and yes, I am authorized to forward the first three chapters of this book via e-mail, as long as I don’t make any profit out of it).  Seth is a truly great author and you should check him out.  He’s such a good author that he often gives out  part of his work for free (as in the case of “Permission Marketing”) or even complete books.

The concept of permission marketing is best exemplified by the smart use of e-mail.

Use of permission marketing from Skitch.com.

Recognize this little checkbox? Every time that you are interested in an online service or product and you need to register to be able to use it, the makers will ask you this question.  Do you want to hear from us? This little question is very powerful because you are already engaging in a conversation with your users.  You’re letting them know that you want to keep in touch with them and likewise you are asking them, if they are ok with it.

Now, I understand that you might challenge this proposition:  people are ok with an organization reaching out to them.  Well, consider this survey from eMarketer:


Do you notice the change in user trends about e-mail messages from companies from 2005 to 2008?  People care about these e-mails because 1) they are REGISTERED, 2) they checked the little “it’s ok to contact me” box during registration,  3) the e-mails that they are receiving are personal, relevant, and ANTICIPATED messages (the three pillars of Seth’s permission marketing), and 4) they can choose when and where to check these messages.

“It’s about me, it’s about what I’m interested right now, and it’s delivered in a format that I want to get it.” – Seth Godin (“All Marketers are Liars” presentation at Google, 8:41)

The beauty behind e-mail permission marketing is that people do not have to be interrupted, they choose when to review the information (if, at all).


However, any organization can mess up this priceless, golden permission that its users have provided by abusing this permission and turning its e-mail messages into impersonal, irrelevant and unanticipated.

In conclusion:

  1. Provide your users a check-box during registration so they can decide whether or not to give you permission to contact them.
  2. Make your e-mail messages personal (ask for feedback, provide various channels for communication, thank them for giving you a job), relevant (tell them about how you are making their experience better, tell them how other users got in touch with you and they made a difference in the new release) , and anticipated (bi-weekly, monthly).
  3. Don’t abuse the permission your users they have given you: NEVER sell your e-mail list to other vendors, ALWAYS provide the option for 1-click, easy unsubscription, and ALWAYS respect if they decide to unsubscribe from your e-mail list.

Thank you for your time.  In the next post I will discuss about web metrics of permission marketing e-mail campaigns.

Author: Damian Davila

Ideas and concepts from Damian Davila, Ecuatoriano thriving in Hawaii. Pro marketer and blogger. Find him at @idaconcpts on Twitter.

10 thoughts on “E-mail Permission Marketing: it works!”

  1. Oh yes, I noticed that eMarketer survey too and was just going to blog about it and Seth Godin when I came across your post! Good going though, you’ve done a swell job on it Damian.

    It is amazing- the amount of retailers and marketers who think people enjoy having their junk thrust upon them. It really is an insult to the consumer. Its always nice to take permission. – Cosmos Star Consultants

    P.S: I thought Permission Marketing & Unleashing the Ideavirus were two of his best books. After reading them, I began looking at marketing through the words from these two books!

  2. Hi Edward,

    Thank you for comment. The eMarketer daily update always offers great brain teasers. I was considering getting their full service, but they are a bit expensive for any startup. I visited your website and could not find a blog section. Do you keep one? I would love to review your articles. Fire me an email at damian@ilovephotos.com letting me know the URL.

    Regarding Seht’s book, I have read Permission Marketing, Tribes and currently working on Meatball Sundae. Once that’s finished, I’m heading for Purple Cow.

    Cheers and best of luck,


  3. Hi Valencio,

    Can you tell me more about the advantages of using that software?

    Thank you,


  4. Damian, that is so true about eMarketer. Their little tidbits on online marketing statistics suffice though (thankfully!). I also visit Nielson Online from time-to-time. Have you tried them yet?

    And oh, I mailed you the links.
    I forgot to add in my Twitter handle though. Here it is: @COSMOSCreative
    Do ping me yours. – Edward

  5. Hi Edward,

    I will check out Nielson Online too. I am big fan of all kinds of RSS. : )

    My personal Twitter is @idaconcpts and my company one’s is @ilovephotos. I always run lots of fun promos on the second one, the first is more focused on my thoughts of online marketing and creating some business opportunities.



Comments are closed.