Six examples where hype and hubris can trump common sense -- to the detriment of your success Spend too much time on the “cutting edge” of online marketing and you can end up like an exhausted puppy… hurtling excitedly from one new toy to the next before collapsing from the stress of too much choice.
There is much current excitement, for example, about the double whammy of email and social marketing: email as digital's rejuvenated workhorse, social as the hot new talent. Clear and proven models for combining the two need more time to emerge, but there's much promise in the social/email integration premise.
All this excitement, though, can take the edge off our sense of perspective and priority. As we choose a mix of channels to market through, we're easily lead astray by hype and hubris into making the wrong decisions.
Here are six seductive traps for email/social marketers to avoid...1. Let the media inspire, but not dictate
Equally, much of the information about online marketing is not there primarily to help make YOUR business more successful.
It's there to get pageviews, sell products and services, boost egos, build an image, attract links, etc.
Which means this information often focuses on what's new, what's hot…what Seth Godin describes
as "interesting to the drive-by technorati".
New, hot, interesting…not what's proven or relevant for your situation.
Email has characteristics that make it unique and best suited to particular marketing tasks and audiences. Facebook, too. And blogs, etc.
It's not the hype or coverage that should dictate where to focus efforts, but the value and relevance of each channel to you and/or your organization.2. Let the stars inspire, but not dictate
Vendors, “gurus” and the online media are very good at pushing success stories relating to one channel or another: the Twitter torchbearer, the Facebook fan page phenomenon, the email coupon king. We feel we should do what the superstars do.
But none of these superstar successes likely share your objectives, business model, skills set, resources or target market. And there is more than one way to use a marketing channel anyway. So we shouldn't do what they do just because they do it, and it works for them. We should simply look to their success for ideas and inspiration.3. It's not just about where your customers are, but also where they want you to be (it's not the same) Knowing your audience's preferred information and communication channels or online hangouts is a good start.
But that can leave you second guessing how tastes and channels change. Nor is it as simple as just knowing your customers are all big Facebook users (for now).
I spend a lot of time in bed. But I have no desire to have advertisers trying to share that experience with me. Not even the attractive ones.
Do you know what kinds of messages people want from you? And how their preferences vary according to the channel they choose to connect through? And do all your customers think the same way? Can you manipulate those connection choices to keep you and your customer happy? The questions are endless… No social or email marketing strategy is complete without an understanding of preferences and motivations for connecting with brands and businesses at Facebook, Twitter, via email etc. A good source here is Morgan Stewart's MediaPost column
.4. Consider metrics that matter
An awful lot of “success” with one or more channels is defined in numbers that don't measure success at all.
We fuss over the number of followers, the number of likes, the number of subscribers, the number of opens, the number of clicks…when what really matters is sales, downloads, donations, registrations, profits etc.
We take the path of least resistance. We focus on the feel-good numbers that are easy to find…on our Twitter profile, in Facebook Insights, on Page 1 of our email campaign report.
But if you're building a house, your goal isn't “to reach 25,000 bricks.”
We also analyse in isolation.
Did my investment in email segmentation technology justify itself?
The question is valid, but only if you ask whether it also scores favorably when compared with other uses of those resources.
It's often easy to find a positive return on investment for a particular channel or tactic, especially when you're subconsciously trying to justify your use of that channel. But is that return better than you'd get elsewhere?
Analysis of a channel's success also tends to focus on results that come directly through that channel. What about the external effects of your efforts?
Email campaigns, for example, are usually judged on opens, clicks and conversions that follow those clicks. But what about email-inspired visits to your high street premises? Email-inspired searches on Google? And dozens of other ways
email impacts customer behavior?
That's hard to measure, but Kevin Hillstrom has good advice on the answers that holdout and control group tests
can give us on measuring the true worth of a channel.5. Take care with terminology
Most of your readers don't read your emails. And most of your followers rarely follow what you tweet. Much of the email and social terminology implies a depth to the relationship that isn't there. While some loyalty is real, much is simply dependent on the value you offer through your posts, emails, updates, tweets etc.
Let that value slip, and the relationship will get exposed for the fragile construct it really is. You don't have as much relationship credit in the bank as the terminology might suggest.
Equally, the value of this relationship differs between and within each channel.
A key question as you consider multichannel or integrated marketing is just what is the value of a Twitter follower versus an email address versus a Facebook like or an RSS subscriber?
Don't be in a rush to sign-up people to every or any channel until you're sure about where they want to hear from you and where it's best (for you) for them to hear from you.
And what proportion of those within each channel are actually paying attention? There's a difference between those Twitter followers who put you on their Twitter lists and those just following you to get you to follow them back.6. You probably can't be everywhere
The scraping sound you can hear is the tumbleweed drifting across the graveyard of a million dead or dormant blogs, Facebook pages, email lists and Twitter accounts.
A blog that doesn't exist sends out no message. A blog that's dead sends out a crappy one. It's not better to have blogged and lost than never to have blogged at all.
You can probably find justification to be active in numerous channels. But participation in a channel builds expectations that need to be met.
If there’s any uncertainty as to your ability to support a channel, then create your presence with two principles in mind:
1. Ensure you offer something meaningful there, however small
2. Design for minimal maintenance.
It's better to grow and surprise than shrink and disappoint.
So... what simple traps do you see us fall into when it comes to email/social marketing? Mark Brownlow is the editor of Email Marketing Reports.