Why Permission Based Marketing Matters

I want to dig into the concept of “permission based” marketing, because it seems to me that there’s less of it around than there should be. Intrusive marketing that shows up uninvited in our personal feeds, through promotions that interrupt has become so common, that I fear it is now normalized.

It shouldn’t be.

Let’s not normalize intrusive marketing

Tell me I’m not the only one that gets sponsored content in my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds promoting product and services, that may be well targeted, but are pitched from the “like or trust” angle, when I don’t even “know” them yet? Not sure about you, but I’m just getting really tired of it.

Traditional marketing was based on the concept of interruption – print ads, billboards, radio or TV commercials. But it was always interruption within a public space, which somehow seemed OK.  Social media promised to move us from interruption to context marketing, but so much in our private feeds is now interruption based, albeit well targeted by sophisticated algorithms, that it just feels like the same old sh-t on a different platform.

Understanding our role and the customers state of mind

Permission based marketing demands that we understand our role as marketers, as well as the state of mind of recipients. Are we interrupting? Or are we invited? Is the receiver passively scrolling? Or are they searching with intent? The type of content, where it is shared, as well as when, should all be dictated by these considerations if our intention is to be customer focused.

Since the customer is now in control, we MUST be customer focused

This Youtube video looks more closely at why “being invited” and “considering your customers intention” (at that very moment of receipt) is so important.


As I note in the video, some platforms like Pinterest, Youtube and LinkedIn under certain conditions as well as Google search tend to be more seek and search intention oriented. While others such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter tend to be utilized in a more passive state. Being invited in and treating people like members should be the ultimate goal. That’s where having a subscriber based enewsletters, regular podcast listeners, Youtube subscriptions, and being a member of a closed group on Facebook or LinkedIn can make all the difference.

Where should sponsored content fit in?

Sponsored content within the feed isn’t all bad, but it really depends on how the audience was selected. If it is re-targeting based on them having visited your website, or targeting based on a Google search, that is quite different. Those demonstrate some sort of “seeking information” previously. It’s then less of an interruption. It also depends on how aggressive the creative is, and whether it assumes a relationship exists that clearly does not. Having permission and being invited in, to then nurture through a know-like-trust model will always win out over interruption and hitting people up when they’re in a passive state, versus actively seeking.

I think we need to get back to being INVITED IN, and having PERMISSION to connect. We need to treat people with respect, and once having earned that relationship, then we can nurture it through the know, like and trust phase. Only after that, will the opportunity for a purchase be earned. This stuff is really important to consider when creating content and deciding where to share it, which is at the heart of a social media marketing plan.

What do you think?



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Mary Charleson

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