In its Interactive Marketing Forecast Report, Forrester Research portends that search, display advertising, mobile, email marketing and social media will drive a 35% increase in ad spending by 2016. That’s certainly good news worth believing in, especially coming from such a respected source. The report is full of interesting statistics and industry forecasts but one prediction is particularly eye-catching; the growth of interactive marketing will essentially sign the death warrant of the daily deal. Again, it’s tough to argue with Forrester but this may be a tad rash.
Daily deals have become an important results-driver within the affiliate marketing channel, which is conspicuously absent in the Forrester growth model. This is strange considering Forrester predicted US affiliate marketing spend would hit the $4 billion mark by 2014. Also, other performance channels like email marketing and social media have spearheaded the success of daily deals through advanced geo-targeting and effective consumer engagement. Perhaps Forrester is equating the recent trials and tribulations of Groupon with the whole of daily deals. Groupon is the big fish but it isn’t the only fish. Nowhere was that more evident than at last week’s DailyDealMedia Conference where some of the heaviest brand hitters sung the praises of the daily deal.
Daily deals detractors often point to the savvy consumer as the eventual downfall of the industry. Can a company really grow with a fly by night customer only interested in a 90% coupon? No, not if the sole ROI metric is profitability. Many companies leverage daily deals for engagement or branding similar to the non-revenue ROI goals of many social media campaigns. And yet it’s doubtful any research firm will be signaling the end of social anytime soon. Given their positive impact on the affiliate marketplace, daily deals deserve a place at the interactive marketing table. Maybe the industry needs to offer Forrester a kick arse coupon.
I did something interesting today. Well, interesting to me. I went on dictionary.com and looked up social. Twelve similar definitions came up but I was most intrigued by #4:
- living or disposed to live in companionship with others or in a community, rather than in isolation: People are social beings.
Let’s apply that definition to social media. The need for companionship across a plethora of social channels has given way to an increased competitive spirit. Companies whose social strategy is “More, More, More” are determined to build their friend count hoping this will translate into sales. And though that may sound good, even reasonable, social media marketing is much more complex. Turns out having a whole bunch of friends can be very isolating if you don’t know what to do with them.
For instance, take my local gym. It currently lists over 1,300 friends on Facebook. Perusing the friend list, I can honestly say I’ve never seen any of these people working out. That begs the title question – What Do You Do With the Friends You Have? For friends to convert into revenue, they have to be the right friends. To that end, search and email marketing would help.
Small to mid-level businesses, my gym included, should update their Facebook profiles to continuously attract higher search results and engage users. In order to improve social search positioning, your corporate profile shouldn’t resemble your personal profile. If you’re a gym, your corporate profile is not the place to praise the latest menu option at the local pizzeria. Also, include relevant brand keywords like “fitness”, “workout routines”, “cardio” and “exercise”. Search marketers can help you create a keyword portfolio designed to be both cost-efficient and results-effective.
On the email side, creating a newsletter or promotional messaging will not only benefit your Facebook friends but their interested and actionable network as well. With respect to my gym, social email marketing can take its pool of friends, wean out the ones that are less likely to join and fortify efforts to get those interested on the treadmill.
More, more, more can work if your goal is to take your friends and turn them into sales. Each business has its own unique brand identity. The mistake companies make is equating friend counts with furthering that identity. Ultimately too many friends without a sound performance-based strategy can prove very socially isolating.
Email is not dead. Email marketing is not dead. But email marketing as we have known it to be in the past, well, that’s forever changed. For email marketing to truly be effective for driving consumer interest, sales and ROI, it has to be performance-based. Performance-based email programs recognize that consumers are the new brand ambassadors. They like being in control and dictating the sales cycle. Think Social Media. They are also much more on the go and want relevant, timely messaging to fit their busy lifestyles. Think Mobile. By incorporating those emerging platforms with strong data and effective segmenting, you can take your email marketing to the next level. And yet, there are some email marketing truths that remain steadfast even amid the changing digital landscape and some that might surprise the most experience online marketer.
In email marketing more than most channels, providing a compelling albeit user-friendly customer experience is key. You don’t have to go much further than your own inbox to know that there is far too much email infiltrating the space. People don’t have time to go through each and every one, which makes targeting, tracking and data acquisition absolute musts. Also, email marketers need to make it easy for users to opt-in, opt-out and unsubscribe. Yes, you read correctly. If a customer wants out of your campaign, you should consider that knowledge a good thing. It means you won’t be wasting time and resources trying to target products and services to someone uninterested in what you have to offer. Redirect those offers to consumers who what to hear more about your brand.
When it comes to email marketing, you can make the case that everything old is new again. Email marketing has always been one of the more cost-effective and result-driving channels in the performance industry. By incorporating new philosophies stemming from emerging channels and adhering to some old rules, your email marketing will not only stay alive – it will thrive.
Leveraging advanced technology is considered to be of the utmost importance in digital marketing. Yet, more often than not technology’s role in driving results is often relegated to metrics, data and algorithms. Not in this blog post! Today, the technological infrastructure of an online performance marketing agency gets its moment in the sun.
If a major client demands immediate turnaround on an email marketing initiative reaching 200,000 subscribers, online marketers have to be ready to deliver. Suppose a client makes an immediate request for new servers. What if you are out of the office – on the road in between calls or relaxing on the beach? Remember, being an online performance marketing leader means always being available.
Expertise in a given channel is important. But developing and maintaining a strong, centralized technological infrastructure can be a performance game changer. This can transform email management into the equivalent of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) able to generate upwards of hundreds of millions of emails per day. A robust infrastructure can also provision new equipment immediately from any remote connection. The impact on client management is massive; immediate response times are improved and the ability to meet client needs at granular levels is enhanced. It will set you apart in the performance marketing space.
All this talk of infrastructure might be confusing and intimidating but forward-thinking technology is extremely valuable to your overall operations. So let’s hear it for infrastructure! The right mix of expertise and technology will keep your performance ahead of the pack.
Email marketers, welcome back from your July 4th break. Rest assured – email didn’t cease to exist while you were stuck in traffic en route to the beach or at home watching fireworks in HD. Email is here to stay. That’s what everyone says, at least for the foreseeable future. But as Facebook and Twitter drive improved email marketing results and higher click-throughs by way of “like” features and non-intrusive engagement strategies, standard email marketing systems must evolve. Performance marketers fresh from the Independence Day holiday should take a moment to thoroughly assess their email marketing programs, freeing themselves from inefficient, inoperable systems.
When evaluating an email marketing platform, performance marketers should consider the following – the strength of their opt-in, the overall design and content, whether the SPAM police have issued an APB, the importance of continuous testing and optimization, and perhaps most importantly integration into social media channels. By ensuring the functionality of their email marketing systems, performance marketers will increase the likelihood of driving higher ROIs. Driving those kinds of results will make future holiday traffic jams all the more tolerable.
As we tip toe toward economic recovery, marketers would be wise to remember the role email marketing played in making the recession a wee bit more tolerable. It was one of the few strategies that effectively drove profitable results both globally and domestically. The news that the recession is over is certainly welcome but simply announcing that its end is here doesn’t guarantee that consumers will get the memo. After all, it’s true what they say about assuming. Taking a passive approach will fail to engage potential customers.
Email marketers must engage and involve consumers by giving them more control of information by emphasizing social networks, Email Preference Centers, (EPCs) and the overall value of sharing data. Sharing is caring. Continuous improvement means continuous metrics advancement. Marketers need to strengthen email marketing usability and functionality across channels. While digital and traditional markets haven’t always been simpatico with regard to email marketing, leveraging e-commerce along with in-store promotional strategies can enhance email marketing capabilities. Ultimately, the better your email marketing methodologies, the more advanced your data acquisition and lead generation systems will become.