Commercial TV took 13 years to reach 50 million households; it took Facebook just a year to hit the 50 million user mark. It took Twitter 9 months to touch 50 million users. More than a billion people now log into Facebook everyday. To date, only two national states have breached this barrier: China and India
The number of worldwide email accounts is projected to increase from over 2.9 billion in 2010, to over 3.8 billion by 2014. However, Social Networking currently represents the fastest growing communication technology among both consumers and business users which are projected to grow to over 3.6 billion accounts by 2014.
And yet Email marketing is far from dead!!
One of the reasons Email marketing is not going away too soon, is just that it is more profitable! According to a 2011 study by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), e-mail marketing yields a return of $40.56 per dollar spent, compared with $22.24 for search, $12.71 for social networking and $10.51 for mobile. In fact, the DMA’s 2016 estimate pegs e-mail marketing’s ROI at $35.02 per dollar compared with social’s $13.43. (Source: article written by Vineet Manghani,Cognizant)
Unveiling the full potential of Social requires an “integrative” mindset. It demands marketers to think in a very 1 to 1 way across both mass & personalised media. And this requires marketing to create a “Campaign backbone” that leverages the rich data that consumers are producing as they wade through their “social life”.
Over the last few years,the Facebooks, Googles and Amazons of the world have leveraged “Big data” to create such a “campaign backbone” . This allows these companies to improve their decision-making based on the infrastructure technology and analytics-related software they have been developing & talk to consumers in a far more “real time” fashion.
Every year organizations collect more and more data on customer “touch points”. Technology advances are allowing for the storage and analysis of data that just 5 years ago wouldn’t have been possible
Companies need to look at Social & traditional email as a part of a “more integrated” data based Marketing strategy.
So how does this impact the good “old email” as a campaign?
In his book Permission Marketing, Seth Godin referred to email marketing as “the most personal advertising medium in history". That was 1999. Maybe we need to listen to that message to reinvent Email marketing.
In my view, that re invention is about how data can form a central part of how marketing campaigns are designed. And in that transformation how emails strategies can leverage a plethora of data-the humble “customer check ins” for something like Four Square being an example!
Social media check-ins provides marketers an unprecedented view into the lives of their customers and prospects. Knowing location, and understanding actual behaviours, creates opportunities to captivate an audience with greater relevance during moments when they are most receptive.
Here are a few examples of how Social instead of killing emails makes them a far more powerful medium:
- Use check-ins as triggers
Right timing a message always gets you far better response. The intent and the timing are clearly signalled by the check in. Check-ins also create opportunities to communicate with customers when they’re not in your store, but nearby, which is a great time to send a special offer.
- Improve segmentation with behavioural data
Check-ins is a window into your customers’ lives, enabling a deeper understanding of where they go and what they do. By analysing check-in data you can categorise & segment customers based on who shops at department stores & who is a high end fashion consumer.. But this requires marketers to create a “big data” environment which can process & analyse this data at speed
- Extend the definition of check-in
Typically, check-ins are an explicit act of using a location-based application to identify where you are. The term "soft check-in," which is an "implied" check-in from social media such as Twitter and Facebook, is now emerging.
For example, if someone tweets they just finished eating a "Mc Burger", it’s a pretty good assumption they are dining at the fast food chain. And, of course, there are the more obvious Facebook or Twitter posts such as "Standing in line to see Sky Fall", the popular James Bond movie !
Using a natural language filtering algorithm that extracts presence extends the number of check-ins marketers can exploit to engage with people and acquire customer information.
So to summarize:
- Mastering this new animal (Social) requires a different breed of people and process due to its real-time nature. Marketers need to marry real-time interactions with traditional marketing campaigns & analytics. Silos need to be broken so that marketers don’t think Brand, digital & campaign differently but rather run a “strategic thread” & integrate the customer engagement.
- Email needs to leverage customer intelligence & drive highly relevant communications to customers. Big data allows you to do that at scale & speed.
- Email needs to be integrated with Social & a larger brand strategy to maximise impact
Watching TV with a laptop, smartphone, or tablet in hand is becoming more visible in many households. At one level this is impacting viewership of TV & at the same time this is great news for advertisers and programmers looking to engage viewers. Content can flow seamlessly across screens to enrich programming content and strengthen advertising messages. This needs very different kind of thinking from Marketers.
In a new study,co-released by Google and Ipsos ,it was revealed that Indians even outpace Americans when it comes to several mobile device metrics. For example, 56 percent of Indian smartphone users access the web multiple times per day, compared with just 53 percent of Americans who do so. And when it comes to social media, the disparity is even greater: 76 percent of Indians check sites like Facebook and Twitter on their mobile devices, an almost 25 percent higher rate than their American counterparts. In the U.S., the rate of those who said they “never” used their smartphones for internet purposes is more than double that in India.
Google's study, “The New Multi-screen World” (Aug 2012), looks at interesting consumer behaviour which takes them across multiple screens-the TV has competition!
The study provided some key takeaways:
- We are multi-screeners: Most of our time is spent in front of a screen, be it the PC, smartphone, tablet or TV.The device we choose is often driven by our context of where we are, what we want to accomplish and the amount of time needed.
- There are two main modes of multi-screening: Sequential screening, where we move from one device to the next, and simultaneous screening, where we use multiple devices at the same time.TV no longer commands our full attention as it becomes one of the most common devices used simultaneously with other screens. Portable screens allow us to move easily from one device to another to achieve a task, with Search being the most common bridge between devices in this sequential usage.Multiple screens make us feel more efficient because we can act spontaneously and get a sense of accomplishment, which results in a feeling of “found time”.
Implications for Marketers:
- Welcome to the era of Digital intelligence. Analytics for measuring multiple device consumption is a must! Firms require analytics that deliver visibility to the devices, locations, technologies, and usage patterns that characterize multi device Internet access.
- Constantly testing different campaigns to create feedback loop to improve results. Thinking 1 to 1 vs Mass marketing is key to enagaging with this fragmented consumer.
- Making money from audio, video & repurposing content across different screens. Huge implications for Media companies who can drive personalised content in interesting ways to individual audiences. Consumers who use media brands via online video and multi-screen consumers will tend to be the most engaged and loyal brand consumers
- optimize your content for multiple devices. Consumers are increasingly accessing multiple screens in their day-to-day lives. It's no longer enough to optimize your content for PCs/laptops. Mobile optimization on tablets and smartphones should also be a priority.
Innovators aren't exceptional as much as they are confident. So says David Kelley, the founder of the venerable Palo Alto, Calif., design firm IDEO.
Analytics has for long been considered a strategic tool but its use has been mastered only by few industries & a few companies within those industries. One hears about Capital One, Harrah’s casino & others who have dramatically impacted their business through use of analytics. But analytics is not new! Some of the statistical underpinnings of analytics are more than 40 years old (like the Logistic regression algorithm)
But innovation is much more about how you use analytics & so you need the “integrators”! These are people who understand the intersection of “data, technology, business & statistics”. And you have integrators who exist all across the company, not only in one department. And of course they need to have the courage to "fail" because without that "innovation" does not happen!
The increasing footprint of digital data is allowing such integrators to truly make an impact! The media business is one which is being impacted by changing reading habits & so the need to innovate is possibly far more urgent!
“The New York Times Company announced today the launch of Ricochet, a new approach to digital marketing. SAP, along with media agency Mindshare, is the first company to utilize this new marketing solution.
Developed in The New York Times Company’s Research & Development lab, and commercialized by the Times Company’s newly formed R&D Ventures group, Ricochet is a new model of digital marketing that blends media buying with a brand’s social media and owned media strategies. R&D Ventures evolved out of the R&D lab and brings promising new product concepts to market”
An example of one of the SAP-selected articles can be viewed here: http://r-i.co/ve. Here is that same article, as it appears to anyone who navigates to the page without using the Ricochet link:http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/supercomputing-rented-by-the-hour/.
So “Push” is being replaced by “Pull”. Earlier brands reached advertising through content now content is reaching the audience through the brand!
Think about it, would you expect the Times of India or Hindustan Times to deploy cutting edge analytics! Look at the forwarding looking investments that the New York Times seems to have made! http://bit.ly/pFvJB
And stuff like this is being supported by an Analytics tool:
“Ricochet operates in conjunction with Cascade, a proprietary data visualization tool that can monitor the sharing of content on Twitter. Cascade, which was also developed by the Times Company’s R&D lab, allows the brand to visualize the Ricochet links as they are shared on Twitter and thereby gain additional insights such as which key influencers are driving traffic to the content, what those influencers are saying, and which hashtags, if any, they use”
So there are ways to bring analytics into mainline business, it's just that it needs the "integrators" to step in!!
Traditional analytics is changing & has the power to bring in reams of Social data! But for that to happen the Analytics professional has to change & move from the familiar transactional data to newer pastures! Social analytics is sexy but it needs to integrate with the rest of the customer data to make business impact happen!
Seventy-eight percent of Analytics professionals surveyed by Forrester said that they “collect customer feedback or listen” to social media. But far fewer integrate that data. Forrester calls this Social Intelligence — “the management and analysis of customer data from social sources, used to activate and recalibrate marketing programs”.
This is definitely not easy in a corporate setting where often- Customer Care is looked after by a Customer Service department, Social listening is done by PR or corporate communications, analytics by a centralized Business Intelligence unit & Market Research and Advertising is a part of traditional Marketing. And to top it all, Call centres that offer companies daily opportunities to create meaningful connections with customers are run completely independently without leveraging all the social intelligence that is getting created.
Is it possible to tear down these Silo walls? Companies remain trapped by passively collecting social data but not using it effectively. Few actually integrate Business data with Social Intelligence. Only such integration will help drive marketing and business strategy using the data that social media creates. Today, companies underutilize social data and often leave it sitting in its own silo.
Forrester makes an important point: “Today, most organizations remain trapped in listening mode, passively collecting customers’ online conversations and focusing on the qualitative side of social media”. How many companies actually use this Social listening to create new product & service opportunities or even “consumer insights” that are used to impact business.
Can Analytics professionals play a wider role in their companies by bringing in Social data? Here are some ideas:
- Enrich social history of Existing customers: This can give you tonnes of insight, if you could reach into their social personas! Companies should consider the simple way of acquiring social data by simply asking customers to include Twitter handles and other social identifiers when they are registering for a product or service. Harte-Hanks works with Hyundai on its Facebook presence and created a fascinating consumer application. By inviting Facebook fans to play with its application — in exchange for their basic social profile information — Hyundai was able to collect and match customer information with its existing database.
- Integrating customer databases with Social insight: Unique identifiers, most often the customer’s email address, allow Analytics teams to match records in their customer database to online conversations. This approach does have privacy concerns but has proven effective for many brands. Through data-as-a-service companies, such as Fliptop, Full Contact, or Rapleaf, Analytics teams can export their databases and append records with social profile information for customers who used the same email address in each registration.
- Focus on creating the single-customer view: For years Marketers have spoken about this “holy grail”. But here is some insight that shows just how imperative this is: CustomerThink, an online community, recently completed a survey of U.S. consumers and found that 80% had experienced what it calls “touchpoint amnesia,” a term that refers to that experience when a returning customer calls a company with a problem and is treated like they’ve never been heard of before. Of that 80% from the survey, 50% said they were less likely to recommend the company and between 24% and 35% were less likely to actually make a purchase because of it.
Digital is a “A different way of Marketing”. Instead of thinking about "digital" as the online channel marketers should think of "digital" as the way modern consumers seek knowledge about brands & consume them!. According to me, thinking “one to one” & thinking mass marketing is fundamentally different! You have to fundamentally alter your mass market thinking for Digital to be a powerful paradigm for your brand!
And digital can actually power a lot of “One to one” conversations. So why don't Loyalty marketers talk about this? Often I see marketers referring to typical mass marketing paradigms while analysing their digital success. So a Tata Docomo or a Shoppers stop may say they have 5 million or 2 million Facebook fans! But how are they connecting these numbers to advocacy, influence & commerce!
Instead, analytics can help draw insights derived from the users' actions in digital channels (like search patterns and conversations on social networks) that allows the marketer to build more solid loyalty. Advocacy & influence are huge changes that social media is bringing in & marketers can leverage these! Especially in categories like Automobile & Consumer electronics-Advocacy & influence would be critical drivers!
eMarketer ran a very interesting story, “What Do Facebook Users Expect from Brands?” that speaks out loudly about social media impact on Loyalty programs. The article examined an ExactTarget study and “found that 58% of US Facebook users expect to gain access to exclusive content, events or sales after ‘liking’ a company, while 58% also expect to receive discounts or promotions.”
Also “Liking” a company meant different things to different people. How should marketers make that huge jump from focussing only on how many “Likes” their brand gets towards moving towards advocacy, influence & commerce!
Here are some thoughts:
Can I expect to connect with a fashion savvy Customer care associate of a Fashion retailer & seek his advice as I weave fashion into my life! Would a retailer formally allow their associates to build up such a customer relationship!
Can I use digital to personalize my interactions with customers?
An example is Target, which with the MyTargetWeekly Facebook application provides its fans a customized shopping experience with in-store deals that fit their wants and needs through a recommendation system that gets “smarter” as they use it.
Another example is US retailer Tory Burch as a company using a private website with its loyalty data. The loyalty program provides online access to a secure area of its website for its better customers, where it shows designs that could be put into production.
Loyalty points as a method of building loyalty is myopic & in fact a lazy marketer’s dream! Given them points & they will come back is an absolute myth! And yet we see a flurry of Coalition program driving into India-all of them trying to build on the “Points” formula! Where is the innovation in the Loyalty space!!