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Beyond Permission: On-Demand Marketing

  |  February 20, 2013   |  Comments

With just a few minutes of preparation, you can have a few seconds of your customer's attention.

When Seth Godin delivered the idea of "Permission Marketing" in 1999, it was a big idea: ask customers to accept marketing messages from you. Looking at the best uses of mobile, I believe we are at a new crossroads, one where customers request marketing messages.

Never forget that digital messages, rendered on mobile devices, are personal and intrusive. On the Advertising Aggravation Continuum, they are most like telemarketing. We all know what happened to that traditional marketing channel and the impact it had on brands that abused it.


In the middle of the continuum, people take steps to avoid advertising - DVRs, recorded music, spam filters, etc. At the far end, to be viable, the best way to avoid aggravation is to provide information so useful customers will request it.

Family Dollar is a great example for retailers. It has grown its SMS list, without an acquisition program, by providing value. In stores, signage invites customers to text X to get Y, typically a coupon for a popular product. Occasionally, along with the coupon code, the store will invite customers to subscribe. This is a perfect example of "provide value first, gather PII second," which has led to a 175 percent increase in subscribers over eight months.

ESPN is a great example for content providers, but most do not have its vast resources. Consider instead WWE; that's right: World Wrestling Entertainment. Messages cover celebrity news, free programing and events, VIP pre-sales, and merchandise offers. It's a perfect blend of brand and promotion, sent when it has something important to say rather than a set schedule.

Vibes is a great example for B2B. It sends a weekly link to a relevant and timely article on mobile marketing. Customers and prospects are reminded regularly of their thought leadership and finger on the pulse of the industry.

Healthcare provides great examples as well: a dentist's office sends a reminder of your appointment; a hospital sends updates on patient's progress through outpatient surgery to a friend or family member. As I never tire of saying, customer service is one of the great use cases of digital messaging.

The longer I'm in this business, the less patience I have for marketing programs that don't strive for excellence. On the very personal, very limited real estate of the phone, it will be a prerequisite. With just a few minutes of preparation, you can have a few seconds of your customer's attention. What will you do to be worthy? Customers will quickly delete your app or stop your text messages if they don't provide real value, so monitor your "quit rate." Then create a program that customers will not just permit but request. That's on-demand marketing.

Angry Consumer image on home page via Shutterstock.


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Melinda Krueger

Melinda Krueger is a senior marketing consultant with ExactTarget and a digital marketing veteran – starting with direct, moving to interactive, specializing in e-mail, and now charting a course for mobile marketing. Working with the best agencies in the business, she has helped Harley-Davidson, Miller Brewing, Sears/Kmart, CDW, and many others build their interactive marketing programs. Melinda holds an MBA from Marquette University and is a highly-rated speaker for professional organizations and business schools. As the Email Diva, Melinda answered questions on all aspects of the practice. Your questions about mobile are welcome!

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