Archive for April, 2009
It seems these days marketers are walking around scratching their heads wondering why no one ever responses to their e-mail marketing… And why, oh why, are click-through rates are so low… Really, it’s amazing this hasn’t been figured it out yet. Let me shine some light on it…
You. Are. SPAMMING. People.
And yes, while CAN-SPAM (below) doesn’t require opt-ins (isn’t that nice of the lawmakers?!), here’s the thing—regardless of what you think as a marketer—when your e-mail shows up and the person on the receiving end knows that they never gave you their e-mail address or they aren’t interested in what you have to say…they consider it spam. Even if they are your network friend, prospect, vendor, etc. It’s just rude to pop up in someone’s inbox unannounced.
CAN-SPAM Requirements for Commercial E-Mailers:
- NO false or misleading header information
- NO deceptive subject lines
- There MUST be an opt-out method provided
- It MUST be identified as an advertisement & provide a valid physical postal address
Yes, yes, I can hear it now… “I am not spamming people! My e-mail marketing isn’t about Viagra!” Hmmm, let me help you see it from the receiver’s perspective.
You’re Most Likely a Spammer if you…
- Add someone to the e-mail list just because they download something from your website
- Add someone to the e-mail list just they stopped by a virtual tradeshow or event
- Add someone to the e-mail list because sales (or anyone else) tells you to
- Add someone to the e-mail list just because they “friend” you on a social network
- Keep e-mailing someone even when they ask to be removed from your e-mail list
- Send bulk e-mail from your desktop instead of using a professional e-mail marketing application, tool, or program (that just clogs the spam filter)
- Regurgitate copy from your collateral, website or white papers
- Add someone just because you assume you have something of interest to say
- E-mail people who aren’t in your target audience
If you still say that you are within CAN-SPAM regulations to do all of the above things, you’d probably be correct…but guess what, to people who don’t expect these types of e-mails you are indeed spamming them. Why? Because you are cluttering up their e-mail and now they need to talk time out of their busy day to “unsubscribe” and hope you listen. And above all else you are annoying…like ants at a picnic.
Sin #1: Failing to test the design of the e-mail in multiple e-mail clients
Sin #2: Failing to spam-check the e-mail copy before sending
Sin #3: Putting hurdles in the way of unsubscribing
Sin #4: Neglecting to maintain the list’s invalid addresses
Sin #5: Becoming complacent
Sin #6: Sending content that isn’t relevant to what the user signed up for
Sin #7: Most importantly, e-mailing a user without their permission
[The exception: The one-off e-mail asking someone to join your list.]
Social Media & E-Mail Marketing: Turning the boat around
We live in a world where people are tired of companies shoving promotional messages down their throats. We talk about this constantly in the social media sphere. The need for conversation is becoming more and more important in business.
E-mail marketing is possible to do it correctly (Amazon.com, how I love thee!). Companies just need to consider it from the perspective of the receiver. How about marketers do these simple things first on their websites, blogs, etc. first:
- Develop great content
- Provide information that helps people (and expect nothing in return)
Then, and only then…
- Give people the option to come to you (and sign up for your e-mails)
And how about…
- Giving people the ability to select information based on their preferences (ingenious, right?!)
I think we have reached the point where e-mail marketing is ruined. And if marketers want to continue doing it, they need to earn the right to find a home in someone’s inbox. There is no other way to get it right.
This is nothing new, I get that. And it seems absolutely crazy to me to even have a discussion about bad e-mail marketing after all these years. But I still receive at least 10 e-mails a day that I haven’t asked for from people I do and don’t know. Whether it’s from a social network (Ning users, you are the great offenders!!) or from a networked offline professional or from someone who found my e-mail address…and I am tired of it.
Your thoughts? Am I off base here? Is e-mail marketing completely ruined or can it be turned around? Does social media play a part in fixing e-mail marketing? What suggestions would you provide to marketers considering e-mail marketing?
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Yes indeed, I am about to hop on the bandwagon or beat a dead horse…whichever you prefer to see this as. Recently interesting conversations have bubbled up over at Josh Hallett’s, Mack Collier’s and Lisa Hoffmann’s blogs on the topic of social media experts.
Josh’s take is that if, as a social media expert, if you can’t answer the following:
- Do you have any recent examples of how you’ve executed a program for a client?
- How are you measuring the output/outcomes of this program?
Why should anyone listen to what they have to say.
Mack’s take is that there are those who think they can implement social media & get paid because they have a client list but when it comes down to it; their social media campaigns well…aren’t very social. And then there are those who truly do understand social media, have proven their social media skills with their own blogs, networks, etc., but who are not overtly self-promotional or touting a large client list.
Lisa’s take is that it’s okay to call yourself an expert, because if you don’t the charlatans will take over.
I hope I understood their points correctly…as I agree with all three (correct me if I am wrong, thanks!).
Here’s my take as a new marketing & social media consultant…
Even with 15 years of deep marketing (all the 4Ps of marketing, not just communications) experience and over seven years of teaching as an adjunct marketing & PR professor, I am not expert. Why? Because in my mind if I become an expert I fear that I will have stopped learning. And that is something I never want to happen. Perhaps that just my own personal issue… I fear complacency like the plague.
As marketers, we look at Philip Kotler as a marketing expert, a title rightly deserved. He has worked for decades on analyzing and implementing highly strategic and complicated marketing programs. (BTW, if you just had to Google Kotler, don’t ever called yourself a “social media ‘marketing’ expert” in my presence, okay? Thanks in advance.) But now that social media is flipping marketing on its head…is he still an expert if he isn’t engaged in or examining the impacts of social media & marketing? (This is just meant to be an example, absolutely no disrespect to my superhero!) My point is this; we are in an evolving space. And social media is mainly a communications channel that doesn’t have to fit into marketing; it could work best in customer service or operations. That said, it takes someone with years of business and marketing acumen to understand that and to consult on strategic and tactical execution. Call them experts if you will.
But! If you want to put social media into the marketing bucket and call yourself a social media expert, you better understand how it fits into a marketing plan and how to write measureable plans around it. (But let’s not fool ourselves either. Most marketers don’t know how to write marketing plans and a lot of companies don’t have them either.)
And to jump on an old soapbox, this expert conversation is specifically the reason I don’t like the term “social media marketing.” Lots of folks call themselves “social media marketing experts” without ever having taken a marketing class or a marketing job in their lives. Just because you “get” Twitter/Facebook doesn’t mean you understand how to implement either into strategic marketing goals/objectives…or corporate goals for that matter. And it surely doesn’t make you a marketing expert either. Okay, hopping off the soapbox.
And finally, I do want to address the client list issue that was kicked around. As a new consultant, I don’t have a large client list or any case studies…and I think that is realistic. That said, by the conversation recently had, you’d think doesn’t count for much even given my years of experience and education (or anyone else’s for that matter).
The funny thing is…I haven’t come across one case study of a social media consultant or agency that has fundamentally turned a company around (i.e. from a corporate, marketing or customer communications perspective) utilizing their ‘expert’ skills. Most of the social media experts who are turning companies around are usually employed by those companies (thinking about Dell, Comcast, Zappos, etc.). And most of the campaigns have been just that…campaigns. If there are case studies of sustainable, on-going, game changing social media efforts, please share them with us. I for one would like to know about them.
Another thought to ponder is this…
As a client-side marketer for many moons, I have never once asked a vendor for a case study (we all know they are mostly pumped up bunk anyway). I have though asked for examples, samples, references, and walk-throughs (as in ‘walk me through this campaign’), etc. Mainly it’s because I understand marketing and can smell agency BS a mile away, which becomes totally apparent when they can’t detail a campaign.
Part of me wonders if this need for all these case studies is so that social media “experts” can learn from those who walked before them in an effort to repeat the same. And that, my friends, does not make an expert it makes a copycat.
What do you think about this whole social media expert conversation? Am I missing the point? Do corporations require large, well-known client lists and lots of case studies to hire consultants? Or do they want to just work with people who are passionate about helping them meet their goals/objectives/solve a challenge? What’s your experience (either corporate or agency)?
How can we legitimize who really understands social media? Or can’t we?
[Image: Daily Waste]
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Yesterday I had the pleasure of moderating the first Unpanel in social media along with its founders Jason Breed of Neighborhood America and Marc Meyer of the Digital Response Marketing Group. I really like the style of UnConferences, so the concept of an Unpanel was intriguing to me. The Unpanel reminded me of the Plurkshops* from long ago (*Plurkshops were an hour long topical conversations on Plurk that anyone could join). The cool thing about these Unpanels is that no “echo chamber” talk is allowed…only forward thinking is permitted.
The concept of giving a lot of people a platform and opportunity to share their thoughts around the topic of social media has always been important and the way Jason and Marc (and the rest of the team!) integrated the conversation into one location is pretty cool.
There will be an Unpanel every Tuesday, Noon-1pm EST. Each Unpanel will feature a different topic and moderator. I know I am looking forward to more…so I hope to see you at the next Unpanel!
And finally, I asked Marc Meyer to share his thoughts here on THoM…so without further ado, here’s Marc’s post about the first Unpanel:
Lo and behold though something occurred on Tuesday that was somewhat memorable and very worthy to write about. Tuesday was the first official Unpanel event on Twitter. A one hour, once a week, no holds barred, fast paced moderated twitchat. Or, to quote Jason Breed, one of the founders, “an Unpanel is a purposeful interaction with individuals around their industry or business on Twitter….”
So this Unpanel was significant on a few levels and I want to highlight them for you so that you make a point of blocking off the time each week to participate in a truly engaging and elevated conversation about social media.
#1 We had a moderator that absolutely drew out of the 100, yes that’s right, 100 participants, more than just the cursory “social media is all about transparency” comments. Did I mention that Beth Harte was the moderator? We could not have had a better “first” moderator/host. [Note from Beth: Marc is being entirely too kind!]
#2 Pre-set questions; but not your normal “what is social media” questions. Below are those questions:
- Q1: Where are the deficiencies in business around People, Interactions & Technology? In other words, where does social media make sense in a business setting when addressing those deficiencies?
- Q2: Play the “What if” game. Addressing the above deficiencies, remove all barriers and let the imagination roll. (For example, what if CRM systems were filled up by buyers not salespeople) Use the “In a perfect world” scenario when plugging in a social media solution. What does that world look like?
- Q3: Combine the identified needs in business with the “imagine if” comments and let’s create a high-level road map
#3 Incredible discussion. Powerful give and take. Amazing connection with people on social media issues that we can all relate to that get beyond the echo.
#4 A discussion on Twitter with actionable takeaways.
#5 Value. I harp all the time on the value of a tweet or the value of a persons tweets, and in the span of one hour, there was more value in what was being said than what might be gleaned from a week of following a so called social media expert..
#6 The website Hashtagsocialmedia, provided a forum to follow the tweets right on the site. It also provided Beth’s tweets on the side panel so that we could see Beth’s insights and followup questions. Key and critical to pushing the discussion to a higher level. [Note from Beth: be sure to check out all the conversation there.]
#7 People worth following AFTER you’ve had conversations with them, Not before and not based on who they are following, I cannot tell you how many times I said during the Unpanel, “Wow what a great point”…
#8 As awesome as Beth was, the Unpanel will have a different moderator/host with a different perspective every week and thats an important aspect. They don’t have to be rock stars to bring value to the discussion.
#9 A compilation in one place, of potentially the best minds in social media, that SOME people might not know. And we’re able to talk with them. Only through the power social media is this possible. How cool is that?
#10 It’s going to get better.