Traditional Direct Marketing vs Permission Based Marketing

When Seth Godin, acclaimed author of “Permission Marketing” declared that traditional advertising, in which he included direct marketing, just isn’t as effective as it used to be he set a train of thought in motion that was to rock the direct marketing landscape forever.

Then and Now

Before we take a look at what has come out of this school of thought let’s take a closer look at the concept of traditional direct marketing:

Its characteristics include unsolicited offers, a disregard for privacy, low conversion rates and general consumer apathy. Sending messages directly to customers by employing methods like telemarketing, direct mail and email was just the way things were done but as time wore on consumers started to grow disillusioned with the enormous amounts of spam/junk mail they we receiving. It is for this reason that most, previously acceptable, direct marketing tactics are being made illegal across the globe.
The move today is towards what has become termed, Permission Based Marketing. Built on features which include consumer commitment, one to one targeting, transparency and high conversion rates this opt-in form of marketing is definitely proving its worth.

Permission Based Marketing

Consumers are savvy, fiercely protective of their personal information, weary of the overload of information available to them and time starved to say the very least. So, how does permission based marketing fit into this fast changing landscape? Take a look at permission based marketing’s main features to gain a deeper insight into why this form of marketing is so much more relevant today that direct marketing can be.


In the times of traditional direct marketing the key phrase was “opt-out”. With permission based marketing [] it is all about opting-in. In direct marketing the communication is unsolicited and often unwelcome which is why response rates tend to be so low. The cornerstone to permission based marketing is that customers give their explicit consent to receive communication before it is sent to them. A customer that has requested to receive your information is far more valuable than one that has no interest in what you are marketing. “The first rule of permission marketing is that it’s based on selfishness.”

“Consumers will grant a company permission to communicate only if they know what’s in it for them.” If a customer is going to give you access to their personal (and highly guarded information) you’d better be able to offer them something that another company can’t. Customers are most likely to participate because there is something highly desirable in it for them: ideal product match, perfect service solution, enhanced service, better price … a change for the better.

Committed Consumers

Consumer commitment is a key feature of permission based marketing, customers are not just simply being exposed to messages they are expected to engage. The time investment made by the consumer to provide information about themselves before they even receive any communication is exceptionally valuable as it allows personalised and relevant communication to be delivered to them as well as founds a relationship.

High Conversions

Where as conversion rates tend to be quite low in traditional direct marketing the converse is true for permission based marketing. As the consumer has already actively made the decision to receive information about a product the chance of a conversion is quite high. What’s really great about permission based marketing is that you will already know quite a bit about the customer which will enable you to tailor make offers.

Updated Databases

Thanks to the Internet consumer information can be easily gathered and updated. This allows marketers to personalise each and every offering to what their possible customers are looking for or are interested in at that very moment. If you want insurance you want it now – not in six months time.

Permission based marketing tactics are clearly the way forward in both the minds of consumers and companies across the globe.

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