Here’s a debate for today:
Has building a relationship with fans, followers, customers, consumers – whatever you want to call them – become easier or more difficult?
The Old Days:
Back in the early days of the internet – and we’ve swiftly passed through two decades of this crazy business – marketing consisted of luring consumers into opting into an email and adding them to your database. From there companies were able to send out communiqués. In the rush to rouse consumers to action, emails evolved into annoying reminders to do something rather than value propositions. Additionally, like snail mail, companies quickly tried to monetize their databases by selling them to partners, sponsors and third parties.
The “dark side” of the internet quickly seized upon opportunities by creating Spam and using email as a nefarious way to steal personal information and install hacker tools (the current White House even fell prey).
Email fatigue festered long before the advent of social media.
The Current Model:
Facebook, Twitter and the “single sign-on” process changed the communication relationship between company and consumer.
The ease of single sign-on quickly evolved into a must-have for any digital organization. Whether consumers sought to develop on-site profiles, commentary, sign up for contests or games, the idea of creating a separate identity or filling out another laborious form seemed far too taxing for most consumers. And of course, if the consumer wasn’t paying attention and didn’t un-check the pre-set email subscription field, they were bound to get spammed. Everyone rushed to single sign-on to bolster registration numbers.
But some interesting side effects developed with single sign-on and the rush to use social media.
- Organizations traded a proprietary relationship with their consumers to an intermediary – Facebook or Twitter – because they merely offered an ease-of-registration process. Both of those organizations benefit from profiles and customer aggregation built off your customer’s affinity for your product.
- Calls to action: “Do this”, “Watch this”, “Buy that”, etc. do not really work with the Facebook and Twitter audiences.
- When making sponsor or partner pitches, many organizations boast of how many Likes they “own” on Facebook or Followers on Twitter. But do they really “own” them? And how many of those consumers are actually seeing and interacting with your message? Like Google, Facebook’s algorithm is a secret sauce best decoded through a paid relationship.
If organizations have learned something in the past few years it’s that they must deliver compelling, value-oriented marketing content to their consumers or face their wrath.
But where does this leave email marketing and database collection?
VisibleGains.com posted an interesting infographic comparing email vs. social media.
The world contains 2.9 BILLION email accounts (47% of which are based in Asia) and they receive 180 BILLION messages PER DAY.
- Facebook, with its 750 million participants, pushes out 60 million messages per day.
- Twitter boasts 300 million users and publishes 140 million Tweets per day.
Facebook and Twitter cannot combine to top email. But they are more like news wire services.
"Why the future of media is the big social platforms" http://t.co/pmq40MTsNw
— Chris Cillizza (@TheFix) May 5, 2015
We must ask: Do people actually consume email content? How many people open an email and enjoy a valuable experience that leaves them feeling like they’ve just invested their time well?
If your organization struggles with these issues ask yourself the following questions:
- Is building and managing a customer database important or core for your business?
- If you are still publishing emails, do your emails provide valuable information that’s unique or pleasing to your customers?
- Do you make your customers feel like an “insider” or a “VIP”?
- How does your email content vary from your social media efforts? Consider frequency: an email might be once a week vs. the daily social pushes. How does that impact your email content planning?
In the end we all have to ask ourselves: Is email dead, dying or here to stay?