Why companies should not Wave goodbye to email and social integration
Google has become the first major brand to fail in its attempt to integrate email with emerging media channels, following the collapse of its Google Wave application. By Ryan Deutsch.
By Ryan Deutsch
Although aimed at the consumer market, Google Wave’s collapse raises questions on how businesses looking to integrate email and emerging channels will be affected. Social media has experienced a stratospheric rise, but is this collapse an indication that integrating email and social media for marketing strategy is doomed? Absolutely not.
The Google Wave failed because the application was too complicated –resulting in lower than expected adoption. The Wave was a collaboration tool built for individual communication. Not a marketing application designed to enrich customer relationships and brand perception. That said, the failure of the Wave should remind marketers integrating social media and email to invest in strategic guidance in order to take full advantage of combining the two mediums.
Email is a common thread that connects every touch-point in the customer’s lifecycle, but to build effective customer relationships brands must first understand how it affects channels like social networks and mobile. A recent report from Forrester Research finds that "given the increasing complexity of the email marketing channels – including the need to integrate email with social and mobile channel – the call for strategic guidance will only continue to grow in importance."
The ‘strategic guidance’ on offer includes listening and monitoring services; lifecycle communications frameworks; email and social media campaign tools and execution services; community management services; analytics and loyalty marketing programmes that encourage and reward participation across the social web. When leveraging emerging channels such as social media, this guidance can be the key to establishing the customer bond and connecting with them at a meaningful level.
For example, research suggests that ‘best’ customers represent around 20 percent of a businesses customer base, and account for 80 percent of sales. Identifying and striving to create a unique experience for those customers should therefore be the aim of nearly every marketer on the planet. This is where companies need to start thinking more strategically to identify their best customers and create unique, special experiences for them.
As part of this strategy companies must:
Listen to and understand the conversations customers are having and, specifically, what they're saying about your brand. Insights gained through listening can often identify a shared passion (be it travel, sports, music, etc.) that's essential in engaging best customers for ongoing conversations.
Conduct some proprietary research across your best customers to understand how they use the social web, which will inform your segmentation and marketing strategy further. This research will also be critical in developing new social programmes that appeal specifically to your key segments.
Build a truly unique experience for these customers, leveraging all touch points: website, email, customer service desk and presence on social networks. Take the time and effort to build a lifecycle communication programme for every segment, paying attention to community management. Rethink your loyalty programmes — perhaps shift your focus from promotions to rewarding best customers for participating with your brand — be it their community contributions, social network activity or brand advocacy.
Leverage social tools to facilitate and encourage sharing and brand advocacy. Flag and thank active customers, and reward them for their advocacy.
Finally, track and anticipate what’s coming next. The greatest benefit of focusing on your best customers is the ability to manage and execute based on the data. Amazing things begin to emerge when you not only know who your best customers are, what segment they fall in, what products they like and how often they use them, but also their email activity, loyalty/purchase activity and social activity.
While many companies “listen” and “learn” few leverage the data they capture to “engage” and “influence. Leading brands must learn to create this bond and to utilise the strategic guidance, creativity and tools necessary to build relationships and drive brand advocacy. It is through leveraging the data and insights gained from marketing activities to build more relevant conversations, that results can be achieved.
The use of social media will continue to grow, and the collapse of Google Wave is not an indication that this growth is slowing. It is simply a failed product experiment from a company we are not used to failure. Stay the course in integrating email with emerging channels to strengthen customer relationships, do not be distracted by the hype that is bound to follow failure of the wave.
About the author
Ryan Deutsch is vice-president of Emerging Media at StrongMail. An online marketing veteran, Deutsch has more than 12 years of direct marketing experience across the catalog, retail and publishing industries. An addition to a bi-weekly MediaPost column, Deutsch is a regular contributor to multiple industry publications, including DM News, BtoB Magazine, and Chief Marketer. Deutsch has been and remains a frequent speaker at industry events, including the DMA Annual, eTail, ad:tech and the MediaPost Email Insider Summit.
About StrongMail Systems, Inc.
StrongMail’s online marketing solutions for email and social media offer businesses solutions for reaching, engaging and influencing target audience using powerful channels available to marketers today. Headquartered in Redwood City, CA. To know more about StrongMail, visit www.strongmail.com.