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How Twitter and email can benefit targeted marketing

How Twitter and email can benefit targeted marketing Simms Jenkins

Has Twitter jumped the shark, or has it barely scratched the surface of what it is capable of in terms of targeted marketing opportunities? I believe the latter is true, but the jury is still out.

Usually, when the mainstream media piles on a new fad, as it did in virtually the same fashion with Facebook, ("Tonight at 11, married couples who met on Twitter/Facebook, plus how to find a job through social networking"), the marketing community shrugs and decides it needs to move on.

But Twitter, like Facebook, seems to have real marketing legs behind it, not to mention a rapidly growing audience. I say that especially after it has passed through the email marketing gauntlet. What I mean is that over the past 10 years, as a new trend comes along, two things happen:

  1. Email is declared dead because of a new technology trend (banner ads, mobile, video, IM, Friendster, RSS, MySpace, Google, blogs, cloud computing, and countless others).

  2. The email marketing community gets immediately defensive and dismisses the technology without properly defending itself or considering the ways they could complement each other.

However, as the email and digital communities have matured, I have noticed that leadership and practitioners have gotten savvier. They have embraced Facebook and Twitter because they seem to be sustainable; they have attractive and fast-growing user bases; and they complement email marketing as well as any of the latest, greatest threats have.

So no offense to Ashton, Ellen, CNN, and Britney ()

  • They both get your attention when delivering something of value -- the "when" is the big "if" here. Bad email marketing messages and poor tweets are when they have no value to the recipient. A simple yet profound part of a successful digital message resides in this concept, and yet most fail to grasp it, or at least fulfill this piece of the marketing equation. A good email or tweet is read and potentially responded to by many people, and that is your goal, right?

  • They both allow the inbox to be expandable. Email messages are read on Netbooks, iPhones, and more. Twitter users have spurred a cottage industry of ways to access Twitter outside of their main computers. This means the marketing message can go where your users go. This is powerful and something most traditional media can't boast about.

  • Email is cheap and Twitter is free, or are they in the marketing world? On the surface, your company can have a presence in either fairly easily -- signing up for a low-cost email self serve tool and Twitter is easy. That way, if the CEO asks if you are doing either, you're covered. Most of you who have sat behind the wheel of an email marketing campaign or managed a Twitter account for a brand understand that it couldn't be farther from reality. But email is cheap and Twitter is free, they cry! Maybe so, but to make an impact in either, you will need to be prepared in terms of allocating resources and understanding the complexities of both channels.

  • They are a lot harder than they look. Email marketing managers don't get much sleep, and marketing folks who manage their company's Twitter account dream in "@" and "RT" symbols. I could go on and on about why this is potentially the biggest place to slip and fall, but make sure that if you're selling either of these tools internally, you don't sell too shallow. Great email and social campaigns require deep expertise, resources, and layers of testing and planning. Cut and paste homepage or blog excerpts will not work.

  • To do this well requires resources, budget, and strategic know-how. It is certainly not easy, even if you want to have an average program at best. But to do it well, invest wisely like you would in any other point of customer interaction.

  • The relationship can end quickly. If you lose trust or interest with your audience, its one click and you're done. It may be the "unfollow" button or "spam," but either way, your days of communicating with this person are essentially over. 

  • Less is more. Twitter sets the limit for you, but many email marketers should have a self-imposed character limit for their emails, too.

  • Don't forget the replies. Whether for CAN-SPAM reasons or customer service, both require the ability to manage and adequately handle replies to your campaigns. Twitter is scary for many brands as their dirty laundry can be seen by all. This should be the one area that brands don't overlook as they launch a presence on Twitter.

  • Both are ready-made for viral lift-offs. Assuming you have something worth sharing, these two can exponentially get your message in front of countless others not currently getting your marketing messages.

  • They both can launch a brand, product, or service overnight without a huge budget through savvy messaging, planning, and luck. In the offline world, the only equivalent is Oprah.

  • Use responses to drive your future communications. In the email world, response metrics guide marketers to determine where the interest is or isn't. On Twitter, if high frequency of messages results in fewer followers, you have obtained similar data. Using any kind of metrics one can ascertain is what separates the crafty marketer from the bored marketer. 

  • If you want to hear what I have to say in 140 characters or fewer, please follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/simmsjenkins

    Simms Jenkins is chief executive officer of BrightWave Marketing.

    Simms Jenkins is Chief Executive Officer of BrightWave Marketing, an award-winning agency specializing in the strategic optimization of email marketing and digital targeted messaging programs. He has extensive relationship and interactive marketing...

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