GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 4 - April 2008

GPWA TIMES | Cashing in on Social Networking 36 Social networking and e-mail marketing converge By Jack Aaronson, The ClickZ Network I wanted to send an e-mail to a bunch of friends last week. I opened Outlook and started typing their names in the recipient address box. I assumed Out- look would finish their names and fill in their e-mail addresses. It didn’t. Then I realized that they were all Face- book friends, and I didn’t even know their e-mail addresses. If I can’t e-mail them directly (and I am their friend!), how will a company reach these non-e-mail-centric people? Even if a company knows the e-mail addresses for these people, isn’t e-mail an even less effective channel for it than it is for me? For the older genera- tion of Internet users, e-mail programs like Outlook are our main dashboard. The newer generation, however, has replaced e-mail programs with social networks. Sending messages, planning events, and sharing files and photos are all done on a unified social media platform like Facebook. In this column we’ll look at how smart marketers are evolving to embrace this new market. Traditional e-mail marketing is a very mature science. E-mail service provid- ers (ESPs) provide robust tools to get your message across to someone. This includes full multistage campaigning, A/B split testing, and personalization tied to user preferences and actual online behavior. Because ESPs are fo- cused on the art and science of e-mail, however, they miss a larger picture that might threaten their very exis- tence: some of the most desirable mar- kets online today hardly use e-mail. To evolve, ESPs must think of them- selves as CSPs: communication service providers. Their function isn’t to get e-mail to someone but to deliver your com- pany’s message to the receiver in whatever way is required to reach that person. Per- haps that’s tradi- tional e-mail, or maybe it’s an RSS feed or a desktop widget. Or maybe it’s via a social network. Currently, a few companies have realized that post- ing to a user’s Facebook News Feed might be an interesting mar- keting idea. Fan- dango gives cus- tomers the option of whether it posts movie tickets pur- chased on its site to their Face- book accounts. If your friends are watching your feed, they can see you made this purchase. That’s great marketing for Fandango. But that’s not enough if Fandango is truly replacing its e- mail marketing in favor of Facebook marketing. The marketing tools behind what gets posted to your News Feed, who gets to see it, and how you interact with it need to be as robust as current marketing tools. The tools must have all the standard ESP tools (multistage campaigns, split testing, personaliza- tion) in them and execute them over Facebook instead of through e-mail. For example, I subscribe to CNN Breaking News Alerts via e-mail. The other night I came home to find about 20 breaking news messages. Every time a polling location closed, CNN sent an alert about the fact that voting was done, then another identi- fying the pro- jected winners in each region, and a final one detailing the ac- tual winners in each region. My inbox was full of these messages — and not all were news any- more, because I’d been watch- ing the results come in. Plus, I didn’t need the p l a y - by - p l a y after the fact: the results were enough. The folks at Da- tran Media have a different idea. They think I should be able to have my break- ing alerts sent to my Facebook News Feed instead of in my inbox. I love this idea for a couple of reasons. First, it means I get less e-mail. Second, if I’m traveling and not checking e-mail a lot, these news stories are no longer new and important but still clutter my The age-old dream of e-mail has been the right message to right person at right time. Over the past few years, “right channel” has been creeping into this phrase.