In the mid to late 90’s, if you didn’t have an e-mail address, people generally looked at you as if you were from the wrong planet. Now, nearly 20 years later, we have a generation wondering what exactly email is good for in an age of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media outlets, not to mention texting, which is probably the ultimate form of instant written communication.
It leads business owners to wonder if they aren’t beating the proverbial dead horse to a veritable pulp by going to the trouble of assembling and maintaining an email marketing list. Even this author has been guilty of neglecting my hard fought and won email list in favor of the more instantaneous social media avenues.
It’s not hard to see why. Social media paints a much more vivid picture of a given market as a whole. Just be spending time on Facebook, you can get instant feedback from a large number of people on a given topic, product, or service, as well as literally watch the market landscape change, ebb, and flow.
The smartest marketers out there will find a way to have the best of both worlds, integrating the tried and true (email) with the newest and more innovative forms of communication. How, you ask? Well, consider the following:
Make Your Social Presence Known. If you have an online presence for your company with say, Facebook, then start including a link to that page when you send out an e-mail blast. Invite your clients to come and join you on Facebook (or Twitter, or whatever the hot spot of choice is). Providing multiple avenues of conversation can only become a benefit, and may actually increase your online visibility. And the key word there is “conversation”… these channels should be a two way street between you and your customers, not just a pulpit from which you endlessly extol the many virtues of your company brand name.
Listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason…..to listen twice as much as we talk. Not sure what to craft for your next marketing blitz? Spend some time perusing your social media accounts. See what your customers are talking about (or arguing about, or complaining about). You have a perfect opportunity to remain relevant and engaged by addressing these factors in your next communication. Your customers will certainly appreciate the fact that you are responding to their concerns
Try Some Variety. Okay, so you have multiple channels of communication available to you. So now, instead of just sending out a mass e-mail to your list, you take the e-mail message ad repost it on Facebook, tweet it to all your Twitter followers……that’s effective, right? Well, not really. Who wants to get an e-mail about your lawn care company offering a new fertilizer service, and then log onto Facebook to read the exact same message again? It’s an old rule… avoid duplicate content. Make each of your channels, e-mail, direct mail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn… make them all different and unique, addressing a different aspect or angle of your business. Variety is the spice of life (to borrow a tired but true cliché’), and you can rest assured that it will keep your clients coming back and engaging. We all like to be where things are happening, and if it appears that your company has multiple balls in the air on a number of different fronts, it will generate interest.
If Something Works, Do It Again. You’ve spent a lot of time learning what works and what doesn’t as it applies to your email list. For example, subject lines. You need a line that is brief, catchy, and interesting… something to make people click on your message and read it. Facebook has the same thing, called a status update. I am constantly amazed at what people put out for the entire world to read (i.e. nobody cares if you had Froot Loops for breakfast this morning). All too often, the status update is the social media equivalent of watching somebody else’s home movies. You want to be different, eye catching, intriguing. You have a momentary opportunity to grab attention, particularly with people like me who peruse status updates rapidly and are very discriminating about what they will and will not click on. Adopt the same method that has served you well with subject lines, and you’ll see more visitors to your page.
Make Customers Work For You. I’m a firm believer that the best marketing you can ever hope for comes from your customers talking to each other, and they are no more likely to ever do this than they are through social media. If you own a pet supply store and have a corresponding Facebook page, then it’s a pretty good bet that at least a sizeable majority of the folks who “like” your site have, oh I don’t know, a pet! They have a common interest. You make a post about a new product and you will no doubt receive scores of comments from folks about that product, both pro and con. Don’t be afraid to share them through other venues. You can use a FB comment as a part of your next email blast, or in your next tweet, to tout the benefits of a given product. People will pay far more attention to their fellow customers than they will to you. Trust me on this one; I made a living through word of mouth for over twenty years.
Email is not becoming extinct. It is merely another step in the evolution of online marketing. There is no reason why it cannot be successfully integrated into newer forms of communication. We still use the phone don’t we? But it is a markedly different animal than it was when Mr. Bell made that first static filled connection.
Commit yourself to riding the crest of the wave in 2012!