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FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions (How Permisio Works)

Q: What is “Permission Marketing?”

A: Permission Marketing is a phrase coined by Internet marketing guru and visionary Seth Godin: www.sethgodin.com in the book: Permission Marketing. Published in 1999, Godin predicted the eventual demise of unsolicited marketing. Nearly 2 decades later, we think it’s still one of the most insightful books on marketing ever written. While unsolicited marketing isn’t quite dead yet, it’s effectiveness certainly is. The subtitle: “Turning strangers into friends, and friends into customers” perfectly describes what permission marketing is all about. Check out this article in Forbes for more background on Seth Godin.

Fast-forward to 2016 – we now live in a world where virtually anyone can call themselves a marketer and blast thousands, or even tens of thousands of people with unlimited and unwelcome marketing messages at zero cost to the sender. The end result, is that those of us on the receiving end of this onslaught now reflexively tune out nearly all marketing messages. Our response to this new reality is Permisio: a service where we design, build and manage permission-based campaigns where every single recipient agrees in advance to receive marketing communications.

Email “Subscriber Lists”, also known as “Opt-In” lists, are the legitimate marketing industry’s effort to obtain customer permission before sending out ads and offers. Even so, the email channel is so clogged with uninvited marketing messages that most of us receive dozens or even hundreds of offers and advertising every day. Though you may belong to an email opt-in list, chances are those messages get buried among the rest of the messages in your inbox. How many unread emails are there still sitting in your inbox? How likely are you to do business with someone who sends you an unsolicited offer or advertisement by email? How annoyed are you by spam? What is your impression of businesses that engage in this practice?

Q: How do you design, build and manage a Permission Marketing campaign using Permisio?

A: We are career sales and marketing professionals with decades of experience. We’ve designed, built and managed sales and marketing campaigns for companies large and small, including one member of the Fortune 500, who we served exclusively for more than eight years. We are pretty good at what we do, and we thoroughly enjoy it. We realize that not everyone has the time to keep up with all the latest trends in marketing, especially in the digital realm. That’s why we’re here to advise you, and even run the whole campaign for you if that’s what you need. Our advice is always free.

The process begins with a conversation – actually several conversations – to learn about you, your business and the marketing challenges that you face. After that, we work with you to craft a messaging campaign that fits your industry, your product or service, your personality and your customer base. We help you decide what is the appropriate frequency to send messages, what the topic of your messages will be, the proper message format (graphics, etc.) and the proper messaging method.

Messaging methods available include:

  • SMS (Short Message Service): industry terminology for standard text messages (up to 160 characters)
  • MMS (Multimedia Message Service): industry terminology for text messages (up to 500 characters) that include images or video
  • Mobile Coupons: mobile coupons that you can easily track
  • Mobile e-Cards: graphic mobile e-cards using beautiful, professionally-designed  templates for every occasion
  • Voice Memos: prerecorded, non-marketing-related messages using the text messaging channel
  • Facebook and Twitter posts: simultaneously post to Facebook and Twitter directly from the Permisio platform while you craft your text messages
  • Emails: graphic and text- based email marketing using beautiful, professionally-designed templates
  • Direct Mail: still more effective than any form of digital communication besides SMS, graphic-rich and processed in 24 hours

Timing Is Everything: The day, the time of day, and how often to send your messages really does matter. Using the most recent market statistics, we help you ensure that your messages arrive at the optimum time.

How to Say It: We can help you craft the opt-in request message that you will place in your print ads, your emails, your in-store signage, even on your sales receipts to invite your customers to opt-in. Then we help you make your messages sound more enticing so that people engage and follow your Call-to-Action. We do all this for you at no additional charge. We want your campaign to be successful, so you will be a customer for many, many years.

Ongoing Management: Effective marketing is done according to a plan. A permission marketing plan consists of an opt-in invitation strategy, an overall messaging strategy, a plan for segmentation of your opt-in list, the content of your messages for each segment, and careful planning of your messaging calendar. Translated – that means we help you formulate a plan to get people to opt-in, how to segment those people into separate groups, how to craft the appropriate message for each group, and then when to send your messages. Then we make sure everything goes according to plan. All you have to do is sit back and watch. Campaign management is included in all of our pricing plans. We do not charge extra for it.

Q: I am not a software geek. Can I still use Permisio?

A. Absolutely! You don’t have to learn any software, unless you want to. If you do, please know that it’s pretty easy to find your way around the platform. The 50+ training videos teach you how to use every feature, and we supplement that with live one-on-one training sessions by webinar for as long as it takes for you to feel comfortable. If you still don’t get it, or just don’t like doing it, we will manage the whole campaign for you at no additional charge. That means you can skip the training entirely. You don’t even have to log into the software to have a permission marketing campaign.

Q: I am a marketing professional, and I don’t need your guidance. Can I design, build and manage my own campaigns?

A: Of course! Once we set up your account we will happily step aside and let you do your own thing. We’re just a phone call away if you need anything at all. The training videos are built into the software interface if you need a refresher, and tech support is always free.

Q: Why is mobile marketing such a hot topic lately?

A: The first goal of any marketing campaign is to get attention. Everybody’s attention these days is on their mobile phones. If your marketing is not located on, and optimized for mobile, it’s more and more likely that it won’t get noticed. Studies indicate that we now get the majority of our digital content on mobile phones, and younger audiences get nearly all of theirs from mobile. Google search now favors websites optimized for mobile viewing. If your website is not mobile-ready (that means specifically formatted to be viewed on mobile phones), we can help point you in the right direction.

Q: Can text messaging really work for marketing purposes?

A: Yes it can. The latest industry statistics show that 98% of all text messages are viewed by the receiver. 90% of  them within three minutes of sending. If you compare that to virtually every other kind of marketing, that statistic is truly amazing. Text messages stand out because they pop-up on customers mobile phones. They are impossible to miss. Most of us get tons of marketing email, but very few marketing text messages. Because text messaging is permission-based, you know in advance that your message is welcome.

Q: How much does Permisio cost, and why should I use text message marketing when I can send email for practically free?

A: Prices range on average from 1.7 to 5 cents per message credit, or even less on a prepaid plan. SMS- standard text messages use 1 credit and contain up to 160 characters per message, including mandated opt-out instructions. MMS- multimedia text messages (those that include photos or video) use 3 credits, but can also handle up to 500 characters per message. High-volume customers pay less per credit than low-volume customers, but either way it some of the cheapest marketing you will find anywhere.

  • Compare the costs vs. email: A single text message that cost you a nickel to send, with a 98% open-and-read rate, is worth more than thousands of opt-in emails that never get opened. Typical opt-in email marketing open-and-read rates are now about 25% or less. Engagement rates are down to less than 2%. That means for every 100 emails you send, it’s probable that less than 25 of them get opened and read, and less than 2 of them result in a click through back to your website. What is it costing you to have your email marketing messages ignored? From a cost-per-message-viewed standpoint, text message marketing makes total sense. Check out our pricing.
  • Do the math: Suppose only 25% of your customer base opts-in to be part of your text messaging campaign. You send out a special offer by text message and include a photo along with the message. Let’s say only 1/3 of those people (8% of your total customer base) respond to your offer and make a purchase. Multiply that number times your average invoice, and that’s the financial result of your text messaging campaign. Will that number impress you? It impresses big national chains and franchises, and that’s why they do it on a regular basis.

Q: I’m already on Facebook and Twitter. Why do I need text messaging?:

A: Facebook and Twitter are great places to let your customers know with going on – IF your customers frequent those platforms. If they don’t hang out on Facebook and Twitter you miss that population of customers entirely. Also, the limitation to both of them is that both platforms are incredibly noisy, and your posts to both platforms are mixed in with dozens and dozens (or hundreds) of daily posts. It’s really easy for your message to get lost if that’s the only place you’re marketing. Just like email, it’s hard to stand out in a crowded environment. We believe that you should be on multiple platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, and that’s why Permisio can automate posting to both platforms. We just don’t believe that you should depend upon them entirely.

Q: If text message marketing is so great, why do you offer email too?

A: A certain percentage of your subscriber list will prefer email over texting, and some reserve the text messaging channel strictly for family and friends. Smart marketing practices mandate that you include the largest population possible. That’s why the Permisio platform can also transmit email. It’s just good business. We have hundreds of colorful graphic templates that you can use to produce very professional messages, so that you can maintain contact regardless of their preferred method of communication.

Q: Why is there a difference in cost between SMS and MMS?

A: The cost difference is due to differences in the file sizes being sent. Please note – not all US carriers or mobile devices support MMS. While most people have smart phones these days, there is still a percentage of the population that don’t. However virtually all phones support SMS – standard text messages.

Q: For what type(s) of business is text message marketing appropriate?

A: It’s best for businesses that have an ongoing relationship with their customers. If your customers know and trust you, and want to hear from you, they will opt-in. If your business is the type that would benefit from frequent customer communications then text message marketing is great. If your customers want to be notified about new products, services, special limited-time pricing, sales, upcoming events, then texting is the perfect way to keep in touch. Even if your need to communicate is relatively infrequent, but what you have to say is important, it’s a fantastic method.

Q: What type(s) of business is text message marketing inappropriate or restricted?

A: Businesses that are structured for one-time sales would probably not benefit from texting. Also there are a small number of businesses whose products or services are restricted or prohibited entirely. If your business is regulated by the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms), there are restrictions. For example, advertising liquor is prohibited because there is no way to prevent minors from opting in. Bars, restaurants and nightclubs, however can advertise their food specials and live entertainment- topics that are a good match for text messaging, as long as they don’t mention liquor specifically. Tobacco, guns, and gambling are totally prohibited, as well as get-rich-quick schemes and other types of offers frequently associated with fraud. For full list of prohibited topics please visit our Terms of Use section.

Q: What are some examples of businesses that can benefit from a text messaging campaign?

A: Please visit our blog for specific tactical ideas and suggestions, but here are a few basic examples:

  • Professional Associations, Nonprofits, Schools and Clubs: As members, your population has already indicated that they know you and trust you. That is key to getting permission to communicate via the text messaging channel. Membership groups usually have a more frequent need to communicate that most other types of entities. There is always something going on, and texting is a great way to keep everyone informed. Texting cuts through the noise in a way that email just can’t.
  • Churches: Spreading the word is easy with text messaging. Automation tools make communicating with large numbers of people very, very easy. Program an entire year’s worth of Bible verses and prayers into Permisio, and they will go out automatically and on schedule. Using different keywords during the opt-in process will allow you to segment your list, and alter the message content according to the audience, sending one message to the adults and another to the youth group. The appointment notification tool reminds everybody of important events, and you can update your Facebook page and your Twitter feed using Permisio. A great time saver.
  • Bloggers: Publish a blog? Every time you post something noteworthy, send the blog headline and the first few lines of the post to your list via text message. With text messaging’s 98% open-rate, you can rest assured that your readers got the message. Even if you already have an email solution in place,  we suggest that you invite your readers to join your text messaging opt-in list as well. Your readers are five times as likely to see the text message vs. the email. A quick examination of your open-and-read rate will confirm just how many people are actually visiting your blog. The stats say that most opt-in emails have a less than 25% open-and-read rate, and less than a 2% engagement rate (no offense meant if your rates are better than this). That means even if some people are reading your email blast, and only a few click through on your call-to-action, there’s room for improvement. Permisio can insert a trackable link, so that you can track how many people click through to your website.
  • Lawyers and Financial Professionals: You might be thinking that complicated topics can’t properly be expressed in something as short as text message, even in an MMS multimedia message that allows one to send messages with up to 500 characters. However, many professionals host seminars, investment or legal clinics, and speaking events that are primarily intended to recruit new clients. All of these are scheduled, calendared events. If your clientele requires your services on a frequent basis, being on the notification list is something to be desired. For example: a real estate lawyer could invite all the realtors in town to opt-in to be notified every time a new event is on the calendar. A financial or tax professional can remind clients about critical policy updates and filing deadlines.
  • Physicians, Therapists and Chiropractors: Help your patients keep their appointments with Permisio’s built-in appointment reminder function. Upload your entire appointment schedule, or enter them one at a time and Permisio will send out a text at your desired frequency level. You can also upload health and wellness tips, and even diet and exercise reminders to keep people motivated to do the right thing. You can even remind patients to take their medications. Get creative with this powerful communication method.
  • Realtors: Notify your clients of new listings instantly, and unlike email, they are nearly certain to see them because the messages pop up on their phones. Include a photo along with the text, the marketing aspect of your job is done. Now all you have to do is close the sale! You can segment your list using different keywords so that clients seeking a new property within a certain price range, a certain neighborhood, or even a certain property type receive a different message.
  • Retail Businesses: Moving inventory is the name of the game in retail. Letting your customers know by text when there’s a sale is a no-brainer. Including photos with your text messages can be very enticing. Send out trackable digital coupons that customers carry with them. Segment your list using different keywords for different customer subsets makes it possible to send different offers to each subset. For example: you can separate the men from the boys and the women from the girls so that your offers are always relevant. Because each segment of your customer population texts in different keyword, Permisio separates everyone automatically and places them on a different list. You can also choose add a few special questions during the opt-in process to further filter your list. For example, ask customers to indicate color preferences or sizes so you can get rid of specific leftover inventory.
  • Gyms and Personal Trainers: For most of us, keeping fit requires constant motivation. It’s way too easy to forget, or to find a reason not work out. Fitness industry professionals can upload an entire collection of motivational messages and Permisio will send them out automatically, on the date and time of your choosing. You can also announce spin classes, yoga classes, martial arts classes, or whatever you like. Part of the appeal of being a gym member is the group aspect of it all. When the group is up to something, other members would like to be notified of what’s going on. Besides sending out these notices by text message, Permisio can simultaneously post the message to both Twitter and Facebook at the same time. If your facility has a reservation system in place, the appointment reminder function is a great tool to keep gym assets full. Trainers can send out appointment reminders by text too.
  • Service Businesses: If your customers would benefit from educational tips, preventive maintenance instructions, and periodic rescheduling reminders, by all means set up a text messaging campaign. Your messages may not require the same frequency as retail business or restaurant, but it’s always a good idea to keep in touch and in front of your customers. Your competitors certainly would like to get noticed, so make sure that if there’s a need, you are the first solution they think of.
  • Manufacturers and Distributors: It’s always a challenge matching inventory with sales. Manufacturers sometimes end up with a little more stock on hand than your sales team can move. With text messaging you can let your customers know what’s available, and in real time. Text messaging is so much more attention-getting than email, and your best customers might appreciate being on a “special”, exclusive notification list, where they can buy odd lots, excess inventory and manufacturing overruns.
  • Restaurants: Most restaurants have weekly specials, limited-time menu items and signature dishes. Text messaging is the perfect medium to let people know what’s going on. Including photos in your messages by using MMS really makes an impact. Digital coupons are great for casual dining establishments. The financial gains realized by getting your most loyal customers to visit only a couple of extra times a month could be substantial.
  • Bars and Clubs: While the law prevents mentioning alcohol in a text message (there is no way to prevent minors from opting-in) text messaging is a great way to announce special events, live entertainment and food specials. If your establishment hosts sporting events on your widescreen TV, a special music act is appearing, there’s a contest or a tournament, your customers want to know about it.

Q: What is Marketing Automation and how does it work? 

A: With Permisio you can schedule your messages to go out automatically and on schedule. For example, you may want your messages to go out every Sunday morning, so that your subscribers will be able to take advantage of the upcoming special. Marketing Automation means you don’t have to actually be working that day. You can pre-program your messages for the month, or for the entire year and Permisio will transmit at the appropriate time. Did you know that certain times are better than others for people to read incoming marketing messages? Early mornings and commute times are generally not the optimum time to send out marketing messages. However, you may be busy at the times that are best. No problem – Permisio will hold the message and send it out according to the schedule you set.

Permisio is responsive to customer behavior. Permisio can automatically send a follow-up text message to customers that fail to react to your call-to-action the first time around. That’s the power of Marketing Automation, and it’s a very important tool to have as part of any campaign.

Q: When I sign up for a 30-day free trial, will I be signing a contract for a designated period? Do I have to provide a credit card?

A: No, you will not be locked into any type of contract when signing up for a free trial. You may cancel your free trial account at any time. We don’t need your credit card until you’re ready to purchase one of our regular plans.

Q: Is text message marketing regulated?

A: Yes, quite heavily. After watching how the email channel was abused by spammers, the mobile phone carriers, Congress and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) took steps to ensure that the same thing wouldn’t happen to text. It’s a 100% opt-in only, permission-based channel. Penalties for violation (sending unsolicited text messages) are severe, ranging from $500 to $1500 per text, as well as the legal fees you will incur for your court appearance. Following the rules is very easy – just don’t send unsolicited text messages, don’t send more messages than you promised, and don’t deviate the agreed-upon topic. Our tolerance for violations is zero. We are also held responsible for the behavior of our customers.

Q: How often should my business send text messages?

A: For marketing purposes, the general rule of thumb is 4 messages a month. You can probably stretch that 6 messages a month depending upon the relationship you have with your customers and the nature of your business. For informational purposes (where you’re not selling anything) you can probably send more. For example: clubs, schools, churches and membership organizations may have the need to communicate more often. Businesses using text messaging for internal communications with their employees, and schools communicating with staff and students might text every day. As long as you accurately identify the frequency and amount of your messages during the opt-in process, it’s between you and your subscriber. The important thing to remember is that sending text messages to a subscriber list is permission-based, and that permission can be revoked by the subscriber at any time simply by replying STOP. Violate their trust at your peril.

Q: Will I be provided a list of contact numbers that I can add to my database?

A: No, all subscribers must opt-in on their own. With very few exceptions, we only allow contacts to be added to the messaging database when they voluntarily opt-in through our system. That way we can provide documented, verifiable proof to the authorities should they demand it. Exceptions to this rule might be, for example: a list of your employees on company-owned mobile phones.

Q: How do I get my customers to opt-in so that I can I build my permission marketing list?

A: You can build your opt-in list in a variety of ways:

  1. By using custom mobile keywords that are unique to your business. Example: “To receive our weekly specials and our latest noodle recipes, text RAMEN to 96000.”
  2. By conducting mobile voting campaigns. Example: “What’s the best ice cream flavor? Text FLAVORS to 96000 to vote, then reply 1 for chocolate, 2 for vanilla, 3 for strawberry.”
  3. By using the Shuffle-Responder. Example: “To join Pastor Pete’s Mobile Bible Group, text PRAYERS to 96000. You’ll get a different Bible passage by text, every day.”
  4. By advertising the existence of your keywords in your print advertising, on signage within your business, in your current email blasts, print advertising, in newsletters and even telling by your customers verbally to text your custom keyword to join the list. When they text your custom keyword to our shortened phone number (96000), the system will automatically place them on your subscriber list. You can also choose to collect an email address at this time, or any other data points that are important to you, this can be programmed into the opt-in process.
  5. Via web with online sign-up pages (OSP), embedded sign-up pages (eOSP), Facebook sign-up pages. There is an easy-to-use tool to build online sign-up pages and Facebook widgets within Permisio.
  6. By standing on the roof and yelling “TEXT ME!” 😉

Q: How do I create a Facebook Sign-up Page?

A: It’s easy. After logging in to your account, hover over the Collect Contacts tab and click on “Create A New Online Sign-up Page.” From there, select “Facebook Sign-up Page” for Sign-up Page Type and complete all required fields. We have some very cool and professional templates for your online sign-up pages. *Note: Before creating a Facebook Sign-up Page, you must first connect your Facebook to your account. Go to “My Account” → “Social Networking Accounts” to complete this process.

Q: What’s the benefit of Permisio’s social media posting feature?

A: Time-saving and timing mostly. While you’re sending out your text message marketing, you can also post to your Facebook and Twitter accounts simultaneously. In the case of Twitter, posts have a very short shelf-life. It’s important to post at the right time of day if you want people to see them. Permisio can send it out at the right time even if that’s not the most convenient time for you. It’s a pretty cool feature.

Q: What if a customer changes their mind and wants be removed from the subscriber list?

A: Simple. They just reply STOP and they will be removed from all subscription lists instantaneously. There is no delay.

Q: What if Permisio doesn’t work for me?

A: If text message marketing is not right for you, just cancel at the end of your billing period by letting us know with an email. We won’t try to stop you.

Q: What is the required disclaimer when a subscriber texts in a mobile keyword?

A: Due to MMA (Mobile Marketing Association) regulations, a message that explicitly expresses compliance and states how many messages the subscriber should expect to receive in a given month must be sent. Subscribers will receive this message via SMS. Example: “Welcome! Msg&Data rates may apply. Get X# msg/mo. Reply HELP for help. Reply STOP to cancel.”

All advertising and printed material must have the following information shown somewhere, and if the opt-in invitation is embedded on a website, placed in a Terms and Conditions section:

  • Mobile Text Summary Terms & Conditions:  Our mobile text messages are intended for recipients over the age of 13 and are delivered via US Short Code 96000 and 76000. You will receive up to [#] messages per week depending upon which lists you subscribe/opt-in to. Message & Data Rates May Apply. This service is available for subscribers on AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile®, Sprint, Virgin Mobile USA, Cincinnati Bell, Centennial Wireless, U.S. Cellular®, Boost, and others in the US. Many international carriers are also supported. The list of international carriers include SaskTel, Microcell Connexions, NorthernTel Mobility, MTS Communication, Telebec, Aliant Mobility, Telus, Virgin Mobile Canada, Bell Mobility, and Rogers. The wireless carriers are not liable for delayed or undelivered messages. For help in the US, text HELP to 96000. You may also email [youremail@yourdomainaddress.com] or call [your phone #] You may stop mobile subscription at any time by sending text message STOP to Short Code 96000 in the US. Your phone must have text messaging capability.

Q: Why are two messages sent out when my customer texts in a keyword? Can I remove the ‘REPLY STOP to cancel’ message?

A: Whenever a subscriber texts in your mobile keyword for the first time, a standard welcome message/disclaimer (see preceding FAQ) gets sent out along with the auto-response you created for the mobile keyword. The ‘REPLY STOP to cancel message’ is a CTIA  (Cellular Telephone Industry Association) requirement and cannot be removed. All mobile subscribers receive this message.

Q: Will subscribers get multiple messages if they are opted into more than one of my distribution lists?

A: No, the system will recognize if the same contact has been added to multiple distribution lists. If you send a message to multiple lists that contain repeat contacts, those subscribers will only receive one message.

Q: Why are some of my messages failing?

A: Failed messages may occur due to the following reasons:

  1. The text message was sent to a landline, not a mobile number. In some instances, consumers sign up for distribution lists with landline numbers. In order to minimize having landlines in your distribution lists, it is recommended that you use the Filter Landlines feature, which can be accessed under the “Manage Contacts” section.
  2. Carriers are blocking third-party messages from being sent to the phone number. This is a rare issue, but to help resolve this problem, the contact must communicate with their phone carrier and request to allow third party messaging.
  3. Your subscriber entered an invalid mobile number on an online sign-up page.

Q: How and when can I change my mobile keyword(s)?

A: Before changing your mobile keyword, please be aware of how many keywords your plan allows you to have. You can create a new keyword at any time. However, if you’ve already used all the keywords allowed in your plan, a keyword must be deleted before you create a new one. If you need additional keywords, you may upgrade your plan.

Q: What’s mobile voting?

A: It’s a clever way to engage your customers and build your list. Suppose you run an ice cream parlor. You ask your customers (with in-store signage or a print ad) to vote by text. “Vote for your favorite ice cream flavor! Text FLAVORS to 96000 to vote, then reply 1 for chocolate, 2 for vanilla, 3 for strawberry.” You can even offer an incentive to respond, such as a free coupon good on the next purchase. When they vote, their mobile numbers are added to your opt-in list. The system automatically lets them know the terms of the opt-in agreement. Then the automation feature will send a numbered, trackable coupon for the next purchase. It’s a fun way to interact with your customers and build your list at the same time. With this new information, you can run specials based upon flavor preference! Use your imagination and you will probably come up with other fun ways to use this feature.

Q: How do subscribers redeem coupons?

A: The easy way is to put an expiration date on your coupons. Each subscriber to your distribution list will show the coupon on their mobile phone to your store clerk. This generalized method allows your subscribers to share the text message coupon with friends and family, and encourage others to do business with you.

The more sophisticated way is to use Permisio to issue numbered coupons unique to each subscriber. Each subscriber is given a unique coupon code, which they can present to your store clerk. After a coupon campaign has been created, you will have access to a redemption link. The clerk can enter the code as well as the mobile number on our redemption site with their own mobile phones to record the redemption of coupons. This method allows us to assist you in limiting the number of coupons or discounts you issue, and to track the effectiveness of your coupon campaign.