Sunday, January 24, 2010

Integrate or die - how email and social extends the tail

I'm back from the SherpaEmail event, I come back with a head full of ideas and a firm conviction of what I already knew. Social won't kill email but email can't stand alone if you really want to break through the noise and be relevant. You have to stop siloing your marketing efforts, integration is the true key to success here.

Intergrated Marketing Management and Integrated Marketing Communications are not new concepts, it's even reached university text books. Integrating all components will help you get a true sense of what is going on and the real costs of gaining and keeping customers.

Case in point, and I apologize if these are sound bite-ish:

  1. Email is the glue between all your other communication efforts. Positioning and branding is the base layer, blogging, community postings, press releases, announcements, success stories become the fodder for your email content. Need to prioritize what to distribute? This is where segmenting your audience and targeting helps you solve the problem. Think being relevant and delivering value at the right time.
  2. Social media extends the tail of your emails, blog posts, press releases and any other new content. Social sharing helps extend the reach of your message for well over 48 hours, sometimes as long as 1 month, when well executed*. (see next point)
  3. Proper execution* of social sharing requires that you identify and nurture your most active influencers. How do you do that? Start listening to the internet. Set up Google Alerts with your company name, identify those that are talking about you and circle that back to their customer file. If they aren't a customer, then get on the ball and get them through the door either as a customer, a partner or an affiliate.
  4. Track your analytics like a hawk. You'll instantly start seeing correlations between spikes in your web traffic and your other marketing efforts. Email generates instant traffic, even if you didn't even get that many clicks and opens. Why? Because email also builds awareness!
  5. Don't ignore your haters. You'll always have someone who thinks you are up to no good, either that you are in to sucker them or aren't as clean as you seem. Think of all the "I hate your company" rants peppered through the web. Plan in advance to address customer complaints as soon as they hit the web. Don't become the next United or Dominos Pizza. 
  6. Flip your marketing on its head. Start by making sure that your existing customers are absolutely in love with your product and company. Although you'll never be #1 for everyone, if you've done a good job to manage customer expectations, and try to transact only with the right customers for your offering. When you have customers that not only use your product but love your company and have an extended network of peers that can also benefit from your offering, you have a perfect opportunity to grow your business through referals.Make sure you have a plan to give extra rewards to those that can and do do that for your company. (And read Joseph Jaffe's book if you want to make sense of this point with actionable items.)
  7. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. In optimizing your email messages, you might be tempted to cull out non-responsive recipients. Those that don't open or click your emails. Before your purge them out of your data base, ask these important questions: can you identify if they've visited your website in the past year - see point 4; have they placed an order with you in the past year?; have they interacted with your company in any other way in the past year - calls to support, live chat sessions, whitepaper downloads, etc. If there is activity, keep them in a separate stream and ask them how you can better meet their expectations with your email touches. 
Integration helps you keep an eye on the big picture and keeps you from making costly mistakes.