Chapter Four: Permission Marketing, Email Lists & Community

Old-school marketing looked like this: mass-sending of flyers through letterboxes, or buying a television advert. 

This is interruption marketing, and it actually is still used today and does generate results, but it’s ineffective in relation to the percentage of uptake.

Representing new-school marketing, on the other hand, is a form of marketing known as permission marketing. Marketer Seth Godin describes it as such:

“Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.

Permission is like dating. You don’t start by asking for the sale at first impression. You earn the right, over time, bit by bit."

Since Seth Godin started talking about Permission Marketing, HubSpot started talking about ‘Inbound Marketing’. 

Some would argue that ‘Inbound Marketing’ has become the phrase in the mainstream used to describe this new-school way of marketing. It is not uncommon to see ‘Inbound Marketer’ job titles, especially in marketing agencies & martech (marketing technology) companies.

For further reading, HubSpot’s annual State of Inbound Marketing reports provide the latest trends and insights. 

2018’s report shows a marked focus on converting leads to customers, which again demonstrates the extent to which inbound marketing has become the adopted strategy of today by HubSpot’s clients, arguably some of the more forward-thinking technology companies, and otherwise, across the globe. Again, though, Financial Services firms have been slow on the uptake.

-> See Also: HubSpot's 'State of Inbound Marketing’ report

The overall aim of content marketing

In short, the inbound/permission marketing process can be outlined as such:

1. Attracting traffic

2. Converting visitors -> leads

3. Converting leads -> sales

4. Turning customers into raving fans and repeat customers

5. Analysis, measurement and continuous improvement

Year-on-year, results show a definite increase in inbound marketing, and a decrease in traditional marketing methods such as direct mail and advertising.

By opting-in to receive your newsletter, or your guide, or your podcast, you have ultimately been given permission for your customer to receive your goods.

If your customers chooses to provide you with their email address, and gives their consent to receive your newsletter/offers, you can do just that.

Before signing up, you have attracted, engaged & captured your customer. Once you have an email address and permission to market to them, this is where the nurturing part of the process comes into play.

The chief aim of your content marketing strategy is to ATTRACT, ENGAGE, CAPTURE & NURTURE those customers.

Later in this Guide, I outline The Garden Path Roadmap as a formula for attracting, engaging and capturing your customers. The Roadmap adopts the principles of Inbound Marketing, whilst leaning towards quality > quantity when it comes to lead nurturing, humanising the customer versus seeing them as a mere metric, and with the view that a small, engaged community has greater inherent value than a mailing list of 1000s (or more) with email address with whom you have zero connection with.

Your idea in the first instance is to attract and engage your customer, to impress and entice them enough for them to take action in the form of providing their email address - e.g. by downloading your guide & opting-in to hear from you in the future (often in the form of a newsletter).

Note: with GDPR now enforced, explicit consent re: contact/marketing to your customer is imperative.

The Roadmap: a preview

Here's a short-version of what The Garden Path Roadmap looks like:

ATTRACT + ENGAGE: web copy & blog articles

CAPTURE: ebooks/guides/whitepapers

NURTURE: 1-to-1 relationship building, newsletter, webinars, events

Once you have an email address, nurturing comes into play; through following up 1-to-1, through a newsletter with valuable content & offers, through webinars (online) and events (in-person).

We’ve now talked about permission/inbound marketing and email lists, and the value of then. There’s one more part to this section we have not yet addressed, and that’s community.

The most basic form of community is a mailing list who you send a newsletter too, directly. This is a didactic form of community, i.e. it’s one-way.

The strongest, most valuable form of community is one that is able to engage with one another. That could be in the comments section of a blog, inside a Facebook Group, or otherwise on an online platform where they can interact with one another.

The Monzo example

An example of a forward-thinking Financial Services (fintech) company who have developed and facilitated a highly-engaged community and a big fan-base of advocates is Monzo. Such is the engagement that customers/community members often answer questions posed by other community members, before/without Monzo staff members having to step in and answer. Staff and customers hang out in the forum & engage with one another, there is no heirarchy, the community feeling is strong and Monzo’s customers are very passionate about the product and what Monzo stands for.

-> Monzo’s community forum

If you can build a community around your brand, bring people to you who actively want to work on/solve the problem they are having which your business is addressing, you have hit gold. 

Your customers may or may not buy from you, but either way they are interacting with you, with one another, and they will tell other people around you - whether they realise it ("hey, Bob, come join this community it’s great"), or not (i.e. through their activity on your blog / social media (theirs) / community platform (yours), all of which has the potential to reach others online.

We live in a world of permission marketing, email lists and community.

Over time, you want to grow your customer community (by attracting, engaging & capturing customers with your content and securing their email address), and then increasing community engagement by enabling them to interact with one another. 

Short-term view = buy low-quality leads online; sell, sell, sell; if this fails, forgot about this lead and move onto the next

Long-term view = capture your own leads (email addresses), and nurture them over time, letting them choose when/how they engage with you, and understanding the value of nurturing them and giving them value (for free) through your content and facilitating a community even if they never buy from you. 

Some of these customers will buy from you, some won’t but will become valuable members of your community and loyal fans, and some will become both.

Either way, you can understand the value being built here, for your business and your brand, can’t you?

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