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What is Permission-Based Marketing: Definition, Benefits, & Examples

Discover more about the many benefits of permission-based marketing.

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May 22, 2024
Chloe Mulliner
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If you’re running a small business, it’s important to be in the know about all the best marketing practices—not only so you can reap all the benefits, but in some cases, so you can be compliant with the law.

That brings us to the topic of permission-based marketing. Maybe you’ve heard of it, or perhaps you’re already experimenting with it. Our guide below will cover everything you need to know about implementing a successful permission-based marketing strategy.

What is Permission-Based Marketing?

Follow along to learn more about permission-based marketing, including its definition, benefits, and examples.

Understanding Permission-Based Marketing

What is permission-based marketing’s definition? Permission-based marketing, also known as permission marketing, refers to a marketing strategy in which a consumer agrees to receive promotional messaging from a brand. With this marketing style, the consumer can opt-in and subscribe, signaling to the marketer they’re interested in receiving their company’s marketing material—with the choice of opting out at any time.

Marketing guru Seth Godwin coined this term in his 1999 book, “Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends, and Friends into Customers,” which offers this strategy as an alternative to more invasive marketing tactics. He explained that permission marketing gives consumers the opportunity to receive promotional content that aligns with their interests rather than being bombarded by marketing content that they didn’t want (nor agree) to receive in the first place.

So, how does this compare to non-permission-based marketing? Non-permission-based marketing occurs when a marketer sends marketing material to consumers without consent. For example, maybe the marketer purchased a list of telephone numbers or email addresses from a third party and then decided to deliver promotional messaging to those contacts without their permission.

Now, it’s important to note that some forms of marketing must be permission-based by law. For example, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a federal law that says marketers must obtain written consent before sending marketing material to mobile users. By law, sending SMS messages is strictly permission-based, and consumers must opt-in before receiving any promotional messaging on their cell phones. Here’s more information on text messaging laws by state.

The Benefits of Permission Marketing

Permission marketing benefits both the marketer and the consumer—Marketers get to send content to consumers who are listening and receptive, and consumers get to receive content that aligns with their preferences.

As a permission-based marketer, you deliver your branded content to a targeted audience that is already hooked and wants to hear more. For example, this pool of customers may be eager to learn about your new products or score special promo codes for future purchases. Because these consumers are already interested in your brand, providing them with relevant content can lead to higher engagement and conversion rates than other forms of marketing.

Moreover, incorporating permission marketing into your strategy can help you build customer trust. In a world where it seems our inboxes are constantly slammed with spam, requesting their consent is a sign of respect, making your customers more likely to become loyal, long-lasting customers of your business.

Think of it from a consumer’s perspective. Let’s say you’re a die-hard espresso fan and an avid supporter of your local coffee shop. You’re always excited to try their new brews and get discounts on your purchases, so you were stoked when the coffee shop asked you to subscribe to receive marketing material from them. As a result, you feel happy when you see their messages in your inbox and even find yourself interacting with their content.

Now, compare that to that auto shop you went to just one time, and ever since, their promotional messaging has been clogging up your inbox—and you never even agreed to receive it in the first place! As a consumer, you’re likely to get annoyed with the auto shop and maybe even decide to go with another one the next time you need your car serviced.

Examples of Permission-Based Marketing

With a better understanding of the benefits of permission marketing, let’s dive into some real-world examples.


SMS Marketing Programs

As mentioned, SMS marketing is a permission-based activity—by law. Many brands offer SMS marketing programs that offer customers perks via text when they agree to the texting terms.

For example, the beauty brand Sephora treats customers to 10% off their next purchase when they sign up and consent to receive text alerts. Once they’ve joined, customers receive text marketing messages with information regarding events, exclusive releases, and offers straight to their mobile phones.

Screenshot example of Sephora text subscriber graphic

Before implementing your next SMS campaign, be sure to see more tips on how to write an effective text marketing message.



Newsletters are another excellent example of permission marketing. For this angle, brands ask customers to subscribe to their newsletters to receive updates on the latest and greatest in their email inboxes.

Salesforce is an example of a well-known brand that offers subscription-based newsletters. The company’s newsletter covers everything from information on how-to guides and events to thought leadership and online learning. When customers enter their names into the submission form, they can select specific areas of interest to have curated content delivered to their email addresses.

Salesforce subscriptions screenshot:


Blog Subscriptions

Brands also like implementing blog subscriptions to alert their customers when they publish new blog content. Customers can agree to receive blog updates, so they never miss a post.

For instance, Hubspot features its own Blog Subscription Center landing page, encouraging customers to join 350,000 other subscribers. The subscription form lets them check off the areas they're most interested in, such as marketing, sales, or service. Once they provide their email address and agree to the terms, they'll get emails with blog updates.

Hubspot subscription center screenshot


Discover More About EZ Texting

EZ Texting provides an easy-to-use and affordable platform for sending SMS messaging as part of your permission-based marketing strategy. To learn more and being your text marketing journey, contact us today to learn more about our text marketing solution for small businesses.

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