marketers have been selling products and services using any channel
available. 2000 years ago that was probably a cart with a bell and a
sign. With the advent of the printing press came newspapers, flyers,
magazines. Then direct mail, radio, television and blimps in the sky.
two hundred years in the United States, marketers have been selling
the American public on products and services to make their lives more
enjoyable, efficient and effective.
never once asked a customer's permission to do that. If we had, I would
assume that most of us would not have DVD's televisions, SUV's or be
drinking Coke. In fact, it is likely that the United States wouldn't
even exist as a world economic leader. We owe much of our success to
free and unencumbered commerce, free speech and our ability to compete
and innovate. The ability to reach the public through any possible advertising
channel has been essential to our growth.
are asking permission. Email is, in reality, permission marketing. No
other channel not magazines, television, direct mail or door-to door
sales, is involved with this permission concept. Just email. Why not
call it email permission marketing?
problem with permission marketing.
is that the entire reason for the concept of permission marketing is
Spam. Period. People obviously do not want their email in boxes over
flowing with unwanted emails. So as marketers we have come up with this
concept of asking them if we can send them email to sell our products
and services to them. Actually, the concept is decades old, for years
we have checked boxes on direct mail postcards and forms asking "for
more information" or "please contact me", although we
have never called that permission marketing.
are marketers we needed a name for this "new" concept in marketing.
We coined it "permission marketing", but it is far from that.
It is an oxymoron. Like jumbo shrimp. Marketing by its nature is intrusive.
Advertising, from billboards to junk mail in general, are intrusive
and always will be. No permission needed, yet, except for email.
The number one Internet application in the world, fast becoming one
of our primary means of communication. And marketers are stymied, confused
and generally uneducated in this new channel.
opt-out, permission marketing, are all new terms. Dozens of people have
made lots of money writing books about the subject. But does anyone
really know how to use email for marketing?
issue is Spam. No one wants unsolicited email, well, practically no
one. After all if the "Spam" you get is relevant and of interest
to you it will be welcome. If you collect depression glass tea cups
and you are sent an unsolicited, no permission email, about a great
deal on tea cups you will most likely click through. And be happy and
grateful to receive that email. On the other hand, you may receive irrelevant
offers from companies that you have given permission to and call that
Spam. Since nobody and everybody has defined Spam differently, you can
take your pick of definitions.
A lot of
people simply define Spam as email they don't want, permission or no
permission. Period. As I said earlier if you want the offer, or information
then it is not Spam to you, even if it is unsolicited. So where does
that leave us as marketers?
all lets do a reality check. One, we are marketers. Two, we sell things
to people. Three, we annoy a lot of people with our sales and marketing
programs. Four, if we did not do what we do - our economy would not
of all lets try to understand and work with this new and effective medium.
Since we know people are sensitive about their email, lets go ahead
and use opt-in tactics. But we need to go beyond that, beyond the Spam
and the permission. Basically, if you send relevant email to people
to who want it you will not have a problem. The problem is determining
who is interested in your product or service and how to reach them thorough
email. Unlike direct mail where you can rent lists of left handed redheaded
soccer players, email does not have that degree of targeting available.
Eventually maybe. In the meantime the most important thing you can do
is to build your own list in-house. Offer a newsletter, and send your
customers and prospects information of relevant value, not just pitches
for your product. Give them a way to opt out, and a way to reply to
you. If you use a list broker to send email, be very careful about the
selection of the list, the source of the list and the company who will
send your program out. The most important word in email is: relevant.
this will sort itself out. The government will probably pass laws against
Spam and the Spammers will move offshore and still send you more Spam.
We will pay for these laws with higher taxes, and restricted e-commerce
for US companies. ISP's will block email even when it is legitimate,
and create some havoc in the electronic communication arena. As marketers
we will have no shortage of books, lectures, events and seminars about
this subject from the "experts" that know everything.
meantime, email presents an exciting and unprecedented opportunity for
marketers. I would be interested in your opinions, and views on this
my permission to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
just don't, please, send me any offers for mortgages, credit cards or
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