Note: This article is part of the collection titled content marketing in less than 300 steps!
There are still many content marketers who use content marketing and permission marketing interchangeably. However, permission marketing is just a sub-category of content marketing and, unfortunately, most of the current content marketing campaigns do not fall into this sub-category.
Permission Marketing is a term coined by Seth Godin. This approach to marketing is based on a clear and strict premise:
In the permission marketing, we bound our scope to the audiences who have knowingly accepted to get into communication with us.
Thus sending an email message to someone who has not registered herself on our mailing list is a violation of the permission marketing premise. The same applies to the phone calls to potential clients without their prior permission.
Thus, all of the cold calling activities are outside the permission marketing boundaries.
Considering the above definition, SEO based campaigns looking for organic traffic are one of the best examples of content marketing in the digital world. However, paid advertising in search engines does not comply with the accepted definition of permission marketing.
As the term permission emphasises, many of the current content marketing campaigns are just implementations of the old mass media campaigns fueled with the digital content.
Although most of the content marketers confirm that growing a smaller community of the audiences using permission marketing approach would much more profitable and sustainable in the long run, still many of them are not patient enough to wait for the slow-yet-organic growth of their audience base.
P.S.: HubSpot has a insightful article comparing content marketing and inbound marketing that can be helpful if you are seeking more ideas in this regard, although the author’s personal opinion is in contrast to what I have suggested here.