Attention is the fuel your marketing needs. And it’s getting scarce — even as marketers work harder to capture it.
Social media is a case in point. My Instagram feed is two-thirds sponsored posts or recommendations; I feel like Meta is trying to see how much people will put up with before they stop using the platform altogether. And often when I Google search, everything non-sponsored is below the fold. I even notice the constant product placements in movies now.
You can get attention that way. For a time. But if you really want to build attention, you need permission.
Permission Has Always Mattered
Permission-based marketing is built on a simple principle: people are more likely to listen if they’ve already expressed interest in what you have to say.
Simply put, it’s talking someone through a channel they’ve given you permission to use.
It’s fundamentally different from other types of outreach. Social media, paid posts and PPC are the digital equivalent of billboards. There’s no permission because there’s no relationship between brand and consumer.
Permission engagement creates a conversation between brand and consumer. It means that person has chosen to listen to you directly. Attention gained this way allows you to build a relationship, not just make a sale.
This used to be a small niche. Not anymore. Catalog requests and newspaper inserts were early prototypes of the online future. Email changed the relationship between marketer and target audience. For the first time, marketers could reach people directly on a permission basis.
Email took permission marketing mainstream, but there are many more permission channels today — and they’re based on interest, connection, and engagement. To build permission, consider these channels:
- Email still matters. Most people have an email address. It’s the foundation of many outreach efforts. It’s not the be-all and end-all anymore, though. Structural changes like Gmail’s folders have dropped open rates and pushed marketing messages out of immediate sight.
- SMS, or text messaging, is more immediate than email but requires a lighter touch. The immediacy (95% open rates!) makes it easy to accidentally abuse. It’s often used by local businesses for coupons and special deals.
- Social media messaging is an emerging frontier. Most bulk messaging on platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn requires a third-party app. It can be a good way to build engagement even if the technology is a little kludgy right now.
Once you’ve figured out which channels your audience uses, you need to figure out how to start the conversation.
How Can You Get Permission?
Create a Connection
To get permission, you need to connect with your audience. This requires a couple of things.
First, find your audience. Listen to the conversation on social media, through groups, with in-person discussions. Ask for feedback and figure out who they are and what their pain points are. What do you have in common with them? What can you offer that gives them value? How can you best communicate with them?
Use that information to build personas. What does your ideal customer look like? Age, gender, where they shop, what content they consume … there are a huge number of factors that go into it. The more you can define, the better the persona. The better the persona, the easier it is to create a communication plan that connects.
Then create content that builds a relationship with them. You can’t build a relationship with another person without finding common ground and offering something of value to them. The same is true of the connection between your brand and your audience.
Once you have that content, point them to a landing page where you can offer them value.
Offer Something with Value
One of my favorite local restaurants recently promised a free entree if you signed up for their SMS marketing campaign. I jumped on the campaign as soon as I saw it. I eat their food all the time anyway — you bet I want to know if they’re running any specials, and free food is the best food.
That offer had value for me. Your offer may be different. Stick to the classics:
- Newsletters are a common offer for a reason — they share valuable information. We use this strategy ourselves with the Dispatch. If you’re offering information people appreciate, they’ll give you an email address readily.
- Coupons work across a wide variety of channels. These could be BOGO deals, giveaways … the playbook’s not new.
- Whitepapers and reports are popular with business audiences. Information is power. Offering these free with an email capture is a common strategy.
- Free products, like the entrée I was offered, are great ways to get permission. Free products are very popular with restaurants, tech and entertainment. They can afford to give away something cheap to whet people’s appetite.
Give people a reason to share their personal information. It has to be worth it for them and for you. And there’s one more thing to remember …
Keep it Simple
Don’t complicate your campaign. For example, if you’re focused only online, keep the campaign landing page a lean, sleek machine. It’s meant to do one thing: capture information and solicit permission for future marketing. Muddy that message, ask for multiple things or ramble and you’ll push prospects away.
Keys to keeping it simple include:
- Use one CTA, and only one. Don’t say “Oh, I have this landing page already. It’d be great if while they’re signing up we could also get people to …” No “also.” Make another page.
- Tell people what you’re going to do with their information. Be clear and stick to what you say you’ll do. Legal regulations like the GDPR, CCPA and LGPD force companies to be careful about who they send their marketing to. Privacy laws have teeth now. Don’t mess with them.
- Make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Keep your CTA above the fold. Use responsive design. Over half of all web browsing is mobile, and you don’t want to lose that audience.
The simpler your page, the better chance you’ll have of getting permission.
The Power of Permission
If this piece was written 20 years ago, it would have only talked about permission for email. Times are changing. Our range of channels that work with permission-based marketing is broadening.
At the same time, marketing is more saturated than it’s ever been. We’re competing for ever-smaller slices of people’s attention. It’s more important than ever to get consent to talk to our audiences directly.
Use these keys to capture their attention and give them real value. That’s the final key — don’t just give them value up front and stop. This is a relationship, not a one-night stand. Need a hand? Contact us and we’ll show you how to create a lasting connection with your audience.
Rainmaker Digital Services