Social Media Will Save Email Marketing

email-data-collection.jpgMy first job in this industry was in the email marketing side of things, so I’m constantly thinking about that sphere and playing with tools to improve its efficiency, relevance and overall karma. Let’s face it… email marketing has a black eye (or two).

However, I still keep in touch with many of my contacts from that side of things, and they are telling me more and more everyday how hot list management and email marketing is becoming again. If you were involved in either of those markets in 2001-2003 (or BCS as some of us call it… “Before Can-Spam“), you know the serious amounts of money that were flowing in from large advertisers and networks and out the other way towards anyone with a few thousand names and emails. That money brought even more blood hungry sharks into an already vulnerable situation and eventually brought the house down.

However, email is coming back in a big way largely due to social media such as RSS, blogs, and emerging media (or “web2.0” for lack of a better term) sites. It’s ironic because RSS was to be the savior of the inbox and cause all of us to re-examine how we consume data. That is true in some circles, but for the vast majority of individuals, RSS is still virtually unknown.

For instance, I get blank looks from the students in my college classes when I mention that they can subscribe to our class blog feed in a reader. They’ve all subscribed to receive updates in their email inboxes (with an alarmingly large number of and addresses for 18 year olds!). GMail and the new Yahoo Mail are helping to change things towards RSS consumption with integration of feeds, but most users of webmail are still on platforms which allow them to function inside the inbox with enough ease and comfort to not be bothered with RSS.

Amazingly, 34% of the over one hundred subscribers to CPN use the FeedBurner email option instead of using the feed inside of a feed reader. So, let’s not expect the general public to hop on the RSS bandwagon while online marketers and thought shapers are still using email subscriptions as well.

Which brings me back to the original point. Email is becoming hot again because spam filters are working, individuals are smarter and email is still highly relevant.

Make your affiliate site or network based on a community based theme, and you’ll see the validity of “email marketing 2.0” On both the backend (data collection and aggregation) and front end (marketing to email addresses), the forecast is sunny.

11 thoughts on “Social Media Will Save Email Marketing”

  1. Interesting site, Alan. Hadn’t seen that yet.

    Is it a strong community or just starting out?

    Know anyone there I can do a quick chat with to get some more info for a post or review?

  2. Yeah it always amazes me just how many people don’t get RSS when it could make their life so much easier. Many people will still have a bunch of blogs in their Favourites and visit them all a few times a day to see if anything has changed.

    What’s wrong with RSS? Or do we just not explain the benefits properly?

  3. Good questions, Fraser.

    I still haven’t managed to convince my wife or my best friend to use a feed reader, but I do have them blogging… so that’s a start.

    I’ve heard people argue that MyBlogLog is competition for readers and is keeping visitors from switching over to feeds b/c the benefit of having your avatar seen on somewhere like TechCrunch by the right person could be a big deal.

    I hope Eric and the guys (and now Yahoo) implement something that would allow the “current visitors” list to include readers of the feed. Maybe opening a feed could trigger the avatar to be displayed just as a visit to the site does.

    That might defeat the point for some, but I think it would be a pretty darn nifty innovation and really encourage RSS usage.

  4. It’s great point Sam – I know I’ve probably started actually visiting blogs instead of reading the feed a bit more since MyBlogLog seemed to explode in popularity. I think that your suggestion has to got to be high up there on the wishlist to make it a better product.

    I think it’s also that people need to learn something new to use RSS that’s putting them off. Instead of learning how to use bloglines etc they just keep going with what they know and that’s just surfing the web & email.

  5. Jonathan (Trust)

    I tried RSS, didn’t like it. I like everything coming into one place. Email isn’t going anywhere. The thing you have to keep in mind is that we’re webmasters, site owners etc and spend a good deal of time on the internet. The average person doesn’t and sometimes I think we forget who our audience is. Sometimes I think we like these things because of the business we’re in and because it’s something new. But what about your average site visitor? I think with Costpernews your audience are people in the business so they’re more apt to trying this stuff out. Mine audience is just your basic online shopper looking to save money and don’t spend all day online.

  6. 71% subscribe to via email and subsribers are either in the online ad industry or responsible for analyzing/understanding it at a higher level.

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