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Understanding Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing with Examples

What is permission marketing according to Seth Godin or how can you define permission marketing? Does this marketing strategy have any benefits? Which are some of the examples where permission marketing has been applied? Where can I get Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing book or pdf?


Permission marketing is a marketing idea, concept or term that was ‘coined and developed’ by Seth Godin (an entrepreneur and founder of Yoyodyne Entertainment) much discussed in his bookPermission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers’.  Seth Defines permission marketing as “the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them” [sethgodin.typepad.com].

The main aim of this marketing strategy, according to Wikipedia is “to sell goods and services only when the prospect gives consent in advance to receive the marketing information.” This means that the marketer must seek for marketing permission or advertising permission in advance.

Unlike traditional marketing methods such as TV, radio, pop up ads on the internet, etc. that interrupt or take away the consumer’s attention from what they had been previously doing, permission marketing asks consumers’ permission receive marketing information.  Seth Godin considers the traditional methods of advertising as interruptive where most marketing firms often bombard prospective customers with a lot of unrequested information.

Opt-in email illustration

A good illustration of permission marketing is the so called opt-in emails. In opt-in emails, online users voluntarily sign-up (give permission) to be receiving information on certain products or services. The proponents of this marketing strategy claim that it is very effective since the prospective clients have requested or granted the permission to receive the information beforehand.

Seth Godin permission e-mail marketing
Seth Godin permission e-mail marketing

Opt-in emails will also be more cost effective since businesses will target interested customers i.e. it will be a kind of targeted marketing. Haven’t you seen marketers who opt for unsolicited email marketing which most people often mark them as junk. This is what permission marketing tries to avoid.

Here is more from Seth Godin himself

We hope the above brief permission marketing definition has given you an idea of what this marketing concept is all about. As we look at benefits, examples and much more, everything will clearer.

Permission based Vs. Interruption Marketing

Since interruption marketing competes for consumers’ attention, it was very effective before the growth of the internet and more companies that want too advertise. However, with the growth of internet users, and the increase in number of companies, people get overloaded with information i.e. they are given too much information within a short time span.

Due to the many interruption created by advertisers, people will tend to ignore, disregard and avoid responding to them. This has made traditional interruptive marketing very costly, less effective and it requires so many exposures for any good outcome.

Contrary to this, permission marketing or permission advertising is giving people the choice to receive marketing information or not i.e. “it recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention” [sethgodin.typepad.com].

Owing to the fact that these are people who voluntarily gave permission, marketing messages get more attention. Furthermore, consumers will be more cooperative to the marketing campaigns and be long-standing too.

Why this marketing option?

Permission marketers need to understand the difference between real permission and presumed one. Getting an email, telephone contact, etc. does not always mean the person is interest. Real permission should be driven by the prospect and a show true concern.

The main benefits of this marketing strategy which is based on Seth Godin idea or philosophy that effective marketing strategies should always be “anticipated, personal, and relevant” include the following:

  • It is cost effective – it uses low cost online marketing tools such as e-mails, mobile, social media, search engine optimization and it targets consumers who have already shown interest. This two can lower marketing costs significantly. As Seth notes, “extraordinarily low cost of dripping to people who want to hear from you”
  • Has a higher conversion rate – since it targets customers who have already shown interest, it is easy to turn such leads to sales. People who choose to pay attention often buy what is being sold. This is likely to boost profits.
  • It can be personalized – it allows more personalized campaign where aspects such as gender, geographical location, age, etc. are used.
  • Long lasting relationships – this marketing strategy often build long term relationship between customers and marketers due to the constant interaction through the various channels and thereby it creates loyalty.
  • Retains good marketing reputation – being anticipated, prospects are hardly turned off due to information bombardment common in interruptive marketing.

On the contrary, it is ironical to say it is better than interruptive marketing when the first instance of trying to get permission, interruptive means are always used. This is a paradox.

Permission marketing FreshBooks
Permission marketing FreshBooks


Since it was introduced in 1999, there are many agencies, firms and companies that use permission marketing strategies to run their campaigns. So what are some of the good permission based marketing efforts include the following:

1. Social media platforms

The permission marketing and advertising concept has driven the social media where ‘following’, ‘liking’, or ‘friending’ means granting permission to be targeted. For instance, a marketer on Facebook has to send friend (asking for permission) requests to prospective client.

2. Subscribe to read sites

There are a number of websites which require readers to first subscribe via either their emails or social media accounts to be able to access their full content. By so doing, the readers give permission to receive marketing information including newsletters. Huffing Post is one such notable example.

3. YouTube subscription

Most firms, agencies and companies use the “subscribe” YouTube feature to build a permission-based engagement with their prospects. By subscribing, the customer or viewer has given his or her permission to get information updates, campaigns, etc.

4. Sundance Vacations

This travel company  which according to Wikipedia uses permission marketing“ by going out to sporting events, shows and more and getting people to sign up to win their annual sweepstakes.” On the entry forms which interested people need to fill in, there is an agreement allowing the company to contact via email or phone calls those who sign up.

Permission email marketing

To help you conceptualize the idea of permission marketing, lets dig a little dipper on permission based email. If you are intending to run an email marketing campaign, never forget to ask for permission. Permission here can be defined as an “express, verifiable consent to receive marketing communication.”

Therefore, before you run any email marketing campaign ensure you have obtained consent from willing or interested customers. This is the most important part of any successful permission based email marketing. Also, while crafting it, ensure your permission requesting mail is clear and mentions your terms and conditions.

Consequences of unsolicited email marketing (spam marketing campaign emails?)

If you are running an email marketing without permission or a non-permission based email marketing, there are some consequences that both your brand (products and services).

People who receive marketing emails without their permission often report your email campaign as a spam. When your campaign is reported so many times as a spam one, you expect it to be filtered by most email service providers or even blacklisted.

Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers and other Seth Godin books

If you are interested more on permission marketing, you can get more details in Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers‘ book by Seth Godin found at amazon.com for a price ranging from $2.56 for the paperback,  the kindle version is $13.99 and a Hardcover for $15.08. There isn’t the audiobook option.

Other places you can get this book and other books authored by Seth Godin including Barnes & Noble, The Book Depository   (Free Worldwide Delivery), CEO READ , Indie Bookstores, International Links.

Can I get Seth Godin pdf download free

If you are interested Seth Godin book, ‘Permission Marketing by Seth Godinstop the illegal free downloads. You can visit Permission Marketing by Seth Godin – Free Offer and subscribe to get the first four chapters of this book absolutely free or contact him via his email i.e. Seth Godin’s email is seth@sethgodin.com.

There is also a copy of the book at www.slideshare.net which we cannot confirm if it is there legally or illegally. We do not encourage illegal ebooks or epub or pdf downloads.


To summarize, permission based marketing is all about seeking for a marketing consent from your prospective clients before giving them information on your goods and services. In facts Seth Godin’s words “permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them” should sum up it all.

Important terms

Permission marketing – “is an approach to selling goods and services in which a prospect explicitly agrees in advance to receive marketing information” [searchcrm.techtarget.com]. You are given a marketing consent.

Opt-in email – “is a term used when someone is given the option to receive email. Typically, this is some sort of mailing list, newsletter, or advertising” [en.wikipedia.org].

Sources and cited work

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