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Reading the email tea leaves

December 16, 2009

First I read this:

According to the November 2009 “2010 Marketing Trends Survey” of business leaders by StrongMail, 69% of business leaders are going to increase their spend on email marketing in 2010.

Then I read this in MediaPost’s Marketing Daily:

“Clara Shih, a former Google marketer who started her own Facebook marketing firm and wrote a book about that social medium, says there are now some 350 million active Facebook users, and people spend some 8 million minutes a day on Facebook.

While she does not say email is dead exactly, she says that over 96% of the students she interviewed for her book don’t use email at all, but use texting and Facebook messages and wall posts. “We need to communicate through the channels they favor, and for more and more cohorts, this is becoming Facebook.”

Uh oh. A group where 96% don’t use email!

I think we all know who is on this group. It’s the customer of today customer and the customer of tomorrow. While I understand going with what you know, it’s also very important to make sure there is someone at the other end of the communication. Add to these figures above that it is estimated that 33% of email addresses in your email lists have been abandoned and I can’t say that I would sleep well at night upping my spend on email. Add in poor open rates on email and email becomes even murkier as a communication tool. Moreover, (seriously, I’m not trying to pig pile on email but…..) even smart phones like my Blackberry Curve don’t show HTML formatted emails properly and after a few times of trying to open and read them I just delete them from sources that use HTML formatted email.

I am not saying email is dead but I will say that as a marketing medium it may have run out its string. As Clara points out you need to “communicate through the channels they favor” and added to Facebook I would add text messaging.

Imagine this scenario from Christmas 2010. Your company uses email to deliver bargains to your email list. Your competition uses text messaging and an optimized mobile website to share bargains with their customers. Which of you will attract customers while they are out shopping on Black Friday? If you answered your competition you’d be right. If you think like your customer, imagine the power of delivering a deal to them while they are already out shopping. I don’t bring my PC shopping but my mobile never leaves my side. Factor in the impulsivity of the mobile platform as a marketing vehicle and there is a clearly a case to be made for not relying solely on email.

Never to leave one wondering what to do and being something of an idea guy here’s suggestion of what to do with your email lists. Use them to deliver deals and at the same time ask those people on your email lists the to text your Ruxter keyword to the short code 63636 so they can opt-in to your Ruxter site. With a free Ruxter site you capture the ability to alert your customer to information you want to share via a text message, they’ve opted-in to your text messages so you know you have a better-than-average chance of being relevant and your Ruxter site gives you more room than 160 characters to deliver the message.

Dale Knoop is the President of Ruxter, a mobile multimedia patents holder and an industry-recognized pioneer of mobile data services. In 2005 Dale won an Emmy while serving as the GM for Sprint TV. In August 2009 he launched Ruxter which allows anyone to quickly and easily become part of the rapidly growing mobile internet with a free, fully optimized mobile website they can share with anyone. You can contact him here. Follow Ruxter on Twitter.

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