Permission Based Marketing – What Does That MEAN?

I received an email today and as I was scrolling down to find the opt out button because I KNOW I never, ever signed up for this email list, I was fascinated by what I read in the footer of the email:

You received this email because you are a Real Estate Professional or affiliated with Real Estate and made your email address publicly available for the purpose of receiving communications regarding real estate business. This email is sent to you on behalf of a Real Estate Professional, developer, or real estate related service and is a business communication or advertisement.

Uh, say that again? I am on this list because I hold a real estate license in the State of Wisconsin which is public record? This is the thinnest interpretation of permission based marketing that I have ever encountered. This is the same concept as entering all of the names in the telephone book into your mailing list software and marketing to them simply because everyone made their information public record.

Here is the thing that you must commit to if you want to be successful in marketing:

Share your information with people that want to receive it, only with people that want to receive it, and accept that YOU do not get to make the judgement call on whether a person wants to receive information from you. There is no judgement call when it comes to permission in marketing. There is no maybe. It’s a YES or it’s a NO. And the answer comes from the prospect, NOT the business.

8 replies
  1. kara
    kara says:

    Well said, Jessica! I think an important note for marketers is that sending emails without permission does SO much more damage to your reputation than you may realize.

  2. Andrea Costantine
    Andrea Costantine says:

    This has come up for me time and time again. I find that when I go out networking, I always end up with more emails in my inbox… newsletters, marketing and other things I didn’t opt into. But people BELIEVE that a business card is permission. That a conversation is permission. But it is not. I’ve often wondered if I should have a set of cards that say “please do not opt me into your list.” But then, I’d hate to hand those out to everyone. I’ve instead made a habit of opting out right away, and reporting these emails as spam if I’ve never even met the person.

  3. Brenda Stanton
    Brenda Stanton says:

    WOW, I thought I was the only one 😉 LOL. Thanks for putting this ‘out there’ Jessica and talking about an issue that we all face – and one that needs to stop. I believe that people know deep down that’s it’s not the right thing to do but get mesmorized by the marketing that they do it anyways and find themselves hurting relationships vs. growing them. I agree – only market to people who want to hear from you – otherwise, what’s the point?

  4. Gina Bell
    Gina Bell says:

    I’m always astonished (and annoyed) when I get added to someone’s newsletter list without permission. Equally shocked by how often it actually happens! I used to just unsubscribe. Now, I unsubscribe, mark as spam and if the time is right… hit reply and offer some advice to the sender.

  5. Jennifer Bourn
    Jennifer Bourn says:

    Ahhhh … that is awful! It amazes me what some people think is okay. Mark that baby as spam! Oh and sometimes, I also tweet the email service provider about the spam … they deal with it right away.

  6. Amy Kinnaird
    Amy Kinnaird says:

    Jess, it seems like I have been added to many political lists this season without permission. They all get an unsubscribe from me! I don’t usually click on the spam code if it’s someone I actually met at a meeting, but I would if it totally came out of the blue.

    This is a great conversation. I don’t understand what people are thinking when they add us to their lists? Do they just happily accept the same kind of treatment? Just wondering…

  7. Kristi LeGue
    Kristi LeGue says:

    AMEN Sister! Thank you, thank you, thank you for clearing that up for anyone out there that did not understand. That is one of my biggest pet peeves and I think probably many others as well. I cannot tell you how many e-mails I unsubscribe from daily. It is ludicrous!

    On the flip side of the coin, you are also absolutely correct. Why would you want to waste your time and effort sending e-mails to people that aren’t interested in getting them. It is just going to upset them. Focus on those that actually want to receive your e-mails and the rewards will follow. 🙂

  8. Sydni Craig-Hart
    Sydni Craig-Hart says:

    Wow! That’s pretty obnoxious. You are spot on Jessica, this is clearly a “thinly veiled” abuse of the CAN-SPAM law.

    What these folks don’t realize is that they are shooting themselves in the foot and making email marketing less effective for all of us.

    Thanks for highlighting this important issue!

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