Is Permission Marketing Really Necessary For Small Businesses?

boy watching tv

Starting a business can be expensive. You need to create marketing plan, build inventory, hire employees, get your physical marketplace ready. You may find yourself wondering where you can cut costs and wondering just how much you really need that online marketing line in your budget.

Before you start hacking and slashing, let’s talk.

What do you mean by online marketing?

There are many different types of marketing that businesses are referring to when they use the broad category “online marketing.” These can include:

  • Banner ads
  • Content marketing
  • Social media campaigns
  • Pay per click ads

Some of these strategies are more useful than others. Assuming that you’re targeting Millennials and Gen Yers with your marketing, as they are the most up-and-coming markets, you need to know about permission marketing.

What is permission marketing?

For many years, the primary form of marketing has been interruption marketing. Commercials interrupt our TV watching and radio listening, essentially “forcing” us to listen to them. As the Internet developed, banner ads and pop-ups became popular with marketers.

And pop-up blockers and ad-blockers became popular with Internet users. What marketers have unequivocally found in the modern era of marketing is that users do not want their experience to be interrupted. This has led to what many now call permission marketing.

With permission marketing, users opt-in to receive your business’s materials. They give you their email address, or connect with your social media accounts, or subscribe to your updates. They want to be part of your circle, which means you get more of their attention and an opportunity to create a solid customer retention strategy.

Whenever you are looking at your marketing budget and wondering what to keep and what to get rid of, toss the interruption marketing and maintain the permission marketing. If you can, expand it.

What are the benefits of permission marketing?

Sometimes, businesses look at permission marketing and expect it to generate immediate sales dollars. Unfortunately, that’s not usually how permission marketing works. It’s a much more round-about process that involves building a company’s reputation in the customer’s mind as an expert in their industry, something fun to associate with, or a business that is dedicated to changing the world in positive ways.

But when customers do buy, they tend to have more brand loyalty than marketers have necessarily come to expect from younger generations of shoppers. And happy customers are much more likely to spread the word of their purchase, their passion about your product, and refer their friends to your website.

More customers than ever are online.

For better or worse, the convenience of the Internet is becoming an inextricable part of our lives. Those who rail against people using their smartphones are sounding more and more like those who were sure that electricity would destroy the world around us.

Customers go online to get reviews. They go online to ask local friends for recommendations for tradespeople. They go online to place orders that they can then pick up in the store. They ask Siri or Google for restaurants that are close by, then check Yelp reviews to see where they want to go.

Connectedness is increasing, not decreasing. Businesses that want to succeed need to adapt to new ad formatting and get more personal with its customers.

Should a business ever invest in interruption marketing?

The answer to this is a qualified yes. If a business has a very closely defined niche, and if that niche has a dedicated space on the Internet, it can be worthwhile to create targeted ads that work in that niche space. For example, the community Ravelry has garnered some attention in social media circles for attracting millions of knitters of all ages, nationalities, and walks of life. While many people join Ravelry to browse patterns and participate in forums on a huge variety of topics, they are also served a small number of banner ads.

These ads are closely targeted, generally featuring either small lot yarns, specific online yarn stores, or online pattern designers who sell their patterns through the site. Informal surveys have shown that designers in particular see an uptick in sales when they advertise on the site.

But spending money on pop-up ads that feel spammy and annoy users because they can’t click out of them on mobile? This strategy is not a winner for any business.

When you’re considering whether or not you can afford to spend money on online marketing for your business, consider what you’re spending your budget on, and whether you’re getting the return you want. But most importantly, consider whether you can afford not to be part of the digital connection, especially as more and more people go online.


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