Permission Marketing and the New Digital Age, Essay Example


We are living in a technological society, evidenced by the myriad of communication and information advancements in an age of digital luxuries. This new digital age includes everything to do with the Internet such as websites that allow people to share information, photos, videos, or music. In addition, with sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, E-Harmony, university sites, MapQuest, Skype, Second Life, or bank and company websites, people are able to pay bills, send text or voice messages, video chat, play games, socialize, work, navigate, attend school, or even get a date, online.

The digital age also includes other convenience items such as smartphones, digital photography equipment, GPS, interactive television and all types of other automated, animated, simulated or digitalized possessions. The digital age enhances all areas of life as it is known today. For example, digital technology offers opportunities for continuous improvement in the medical field and it changes the way that society does business, particularly in the area of marketing products and services. Moreover, there are many types of marketing techniques, three of which are traditional marketing, interrupt marketing and permission marketing. With these, similarities and differences exist; however, they all focus on the same thing and that is attracting the attention of the consumer for the purpose of selling a product or a service.

Traditional Marketing

The traditional marketing concept centers on the 4P’s of marketing which are product, price, promotion and place. This is called the marketing mix and it is the basis for marketing decisions in traditional marketing. The marketing mix is a set of parameters for developing a successful marketing strategy, and these parameters are controlled by the marketing manager. With traditional marketing, there is a definite structure to how a product is presented, represented and distributed in the marketplace. According to Brink & Berndt, in the marketing mix, strategizing the product includes the branding, and this is made up of the product’s style, functionality, quality, safety, packaging, etc. These are all things that the consumer is concerned about when making purchasing decisions. The price of a product is also a major consumer concern. This segment of the marketing mix deals with the product pricing strategy, special pricings such as during holidays, discounts and pricing flexibility. The place segment of the marketing mix deals with where a product is located for distribution and how the product is distributed. This involves distribution channels, inventory management, transportation and market coverage. Promotion is the last segment of the traditional marketing mix and it deals with getting the word out about a product or service to the consumer. Promotional strategies, advertising and selling promotions fall into this category segment.

Goi states that the marketing mix helps marketing seem easy because it allows for the marketing responsibility to remain separate from other functions inside a corporation and delegates the marketing tasks to specialists in the field. Additionally, it is stated that this type of traditional marketing has an impact on a firm’s competitive position in the marketplace. It allows transparency in the marketing manager’s job of allocating available resources to meet the demands of various business aspects.

Brink & Berndt state that managers often manipulate the various activities of the marketing mix to develop the desired marketing strategy for particular products or services. In addition, the traditional marketing concept is only concerned with making customers buy, and not so much if they are regular or new customers. Traditional marketing is focused on market segmentation by dividing the market into various geographic areas, for advertising purposes. This allows for an avenue of relationship marketing between a firm and the customers. However, with traditional marketing, identifying and creating enhanced value with existing customers by a means of sharing the benefits of a product or service among themselves. Traditional marketing focuses on the individual customer approach. Additionally, traditional marketing branches out to another form of marketing called interrupt marketing.

Interrupt Marketing

This type of marketing is indicative of the practices of the traditional marketing concept in that it is heavily based on “getting at” the customer one way or another. Interrupt marketing actually “interrupts” the customer to put products and services in their faces by constant ads and sales promotions. The main focus with interrupt marketing is advertising. This can include all mediums that people are exposed to, such as television, radio and print. Additionally, telemarketing and other intrusive solicitations fall under the interrupt marketing concept.

Pros and Cons of Interrupt Marketing

There are pros and cons of this type of marketing. Some pros may be the fact that the more a person is exposed to a product or service, the more than remember that brand. This means that firms know that people make buying decisions based on recognition. Therefore, it is important for potential consumers to know about a particular brand, and what better way to get them to know about it than to advertise extensively. Businesses want their brands to be household names, and they want their brands to be top-of-mind when a customer is consciously or unconsciously making a buying decision.

Cons to the interrupt marketing approach include annoying people. An example is telemarketing, which is largely banned today. However, with traditional marketing and the interrupt approach, telemarketing was a popular way of getting information about products and services to consumers and a hardcore way of selling to them. Other types of interrupt marketing are direct marketing approaches such as spam through the email and direct mailing promotions. Spam has become a major issue since the implementation of the Internet. One can have thousands of solicitations a week in one’s email inbox. This is considered an interruptive form of marketing. Additionally, receiving junk mail through the postal service is another way of directly reaching the consumers and is another form of interrupt marketing; however, it may be less annoying than having the thousands of junk emails.

Change in Consumer Behavior Due the Internet

Probably the most significant of creations developed in this digital age is the Internet. The rise of the Internet has made significant strides over the past few decades. The World Wide Web has grown into a vast source of information and it is a medium that continues to expand in this digital age. Internet technology is a way of life and it touches just about every aspect of life as it is known today, particularly in the area of marketing.

The Internet is a wellspring of many sources where online advertising takes place. Internet marketing and the digital age have changed the way people make purchases and it has changed the mindset of consumers and influences their behavior in many ways. Internet marketing is not only for products and services, but it is also a way to market to social groups or individuals to get their approval or disapproval on situations or circumstances. This form of marketing is a way to reach the masses simply by uploading information online. Internet sites such as Google, Yahoo and other search engine sites remain a staple on the Internet in terms of where people go first for information or to search for what they want. The Internet has actually altered the way people think and behave with all aspects of their lives (Carr). Carr also points out the Internet is an addictive medium where people spend thousands of hours a year, and this gives Google and other advertisers the opportunity to collect consumer information such as buying habits, trending interests, surfing history, and so on. This allows for more targeted advertising because advertisers are able to zero in on what consumers need and want.  This, however, brings up issues about consumer privacy and this has a bearing on how consumers think about giving out personal information online, and this can affect their buying habits as well. This gives way to advertisers realizing that if people buy in to being marketing to, and then they will be less aggressive toward it and more willing to take note of it. Therefore, a new emerged way of marketing is currently in existence – Permission Marketing.

Permission Marketing

According to Krishnamurthy, permission marketing is a way that consumers consent to receiving certain types of promotions and advertising methods, based on their personal likes and dislikes. This marketing approach is also known as invitational marketing. With permission marketing, consumers choose their interests categories and they give permission for advertisers to target market them related to their chosen categories. Instead of the advertiser gathering information about a sample of consumers and developing targeted marketing toward what the average of those consumers desire, permission marketing allows for more specific targeting which cuts advertising costs and time (Krishnamurthy). This is more effective than using the interrupt marketing approach.

Permission Marketing vs. Interrupt Marketing

Since the interests of consumers is a significant factor in gaining their participation, it is important for companies to effectively target those interests. Permission marketing allows advertisers to match what the consumers report their interests are, and it also gives advertisers the power to cater to consumer demands in a more systematic way. Consumers will be positively affected by advertising that is directly relevant to their interests (Krishnamurthy). With interrupt marketing, this paradigm does not exist because this form of marketing is random, and does not take into consideration direct relevance of a consumer. For example, a man living alone could end up getting ad mail directed at women because a woman may have had the address previously. This is definitely an interrupt marketing activity. Whereas, if the same man had filled out a permission marketing survey about his interests and needs, he can received more relevant promotions based on his specifics. Consumers are motivated to buy when they feel catered to, and they do not like their time wasted. This is way permission marketing is more effective than interrupt marketing techniques.

The Internet and Permission Marketing

According to Krishnamurthy, one of the biggest problems with the Internet is clutter. There are billions of web pages on the Internet and much of it is junk, although much of it is relevant information. This leaves avenues open for unnecessary or unwanted search results that people get when they search via one of the many online search engines such as Google. When a consumer searches for specific information, they may receive hundreds of results. They will then, most likely, only skim for the first few in an attempt to find what they need. Consumers want to find relevant sites to meet their needs and with the randomness of free-for-all search results, this is a problem. This is where permission marketing can help with this problem.

Permission marketing allows advertisers the benefit of being at the top of search results for relevant searches by consumers. This is good for advertisers because using this form of advertising and targeting is a cost-effective marketer-to-consumer communication strategy and it is also a quick way to garner consumer feedback. Additionally, permission marketing intertwines well with the Internet because it is spam-free. When people see spam in their mailboxes, they likely delete it without even reading it. Unsolicited promotional messages are an annoyance to many

Criticisms of Permission Marketing

Every marketing technique has its bad side and permission marketing is no exception. Criticisms about this form of marketing largely relates to privacy issues. It is well-known that the Internet has been a source of advertisers gaining personal information on consumers by purchasing them or by scanning other sites to get information such as email addresses, names, home addresses, telephone numbers, etc. This is a privacy concern. Many consumers may be reluctant to give their permission for targeted marketing because they feel that their names may end up on some list where they will then start getting spam in the emails and unwanted direct mail from dozens of other advertisers. To combat this, advertisers need to ensure they keep their opt-in lists up-to-date and delete anyone who has asked to be taken off the lists.

Permission Marketing Case Study

According to Godin & Peppers, the five levels of permission are (1) intravenous or approved purchasing, (2) points which pertains to chance and liability, (3) a firm’s personal relationships with consumers, (4) consumer trust in a brand, and (5) the situation.

The intravenous level of marketing is where the advertiser has permission to decide what to buy for the customer, based on the customer’s interests. For example, this applies to corporations giving its legal team free reign to make decisions as long as those are in the best interest of the corporations. The points level concept gives the consumer some type of reward system for making purchases such as coupons or value points. This is a way for firms to award loyalty and repeat business in consumers. The personal relationships level is vital to business because it is a way for businesses to keep in touch with its customers and it is also a way for customers to develop trust for the businesses. This gives way to the customer’s trust level in a particular brand. People like what they are familiar with and brand recognition is a positive strategic move for companies. The situation level is important for firms to know because they can then cater to a customer’s specific, immediate needs (Godin and Peppers).

Godin and Peppers presents a case study about a kosher caterer who spent $20,000 on a random ad promotion about kosher foods for the Passover with the intent of getting the attention of observant Jews. The case study indicates the ad was wasted because at least 95 percent of the readership had no interest in the product, he was not on one of the first few pages, and he had too much small print that most people would probably not read anyway. It is suggested that a permission marketing approach would have been better because the ad would have been zeroed in on by interest customers and encourage them to call and place their orders. Persistent permission marketing was suggested to deliver the message to people who anticipated it, and because it was personal and relevant, they would be motivated to buy. Additionally, reselling the same audience each year would be easy.


In conclusion, the permission marketing concept, according to Godin and Peppers, helps a company turn potential customers into friends and to regular customers. This is because permission marketing is a way to ensure that people give more attention to ads put before them, by peaking their specific interests. The consumers are expecting the ads because they have opted-in to receiving them. Additionally, the new digital age technologies such as the Internet, with sites like Facebook and Twitter, make it easy for permission marketers to increase awareness about their products or services and strengthen their brands, which is what marketing is all about.

Works Cited

Brink, A. and A. Berndt. Relationship Marketing & Customer Relationship Management. 2nd. Juta Academic, 2009.

Carr, N. “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The Atlantic Monthly 302.1 (2008): 56.

Godin, S. and D. Peppers. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends and Friends Into Customers . Simon & Schuster, 1999.

Goi, C. L. “A Review of Marketing Mix: 4Ps or More?” International Journal of Marketing Studies 1.1 (2009).

Krishnamurthy, S. “A Comprehensive Analysis of Permission Marketing .” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 6.2 (2001).