Social media sites and the impact on email marketing

At DMNews, there is a column about the impact of social media on email marketing, which is quite interesting:

Today’s younger generation is the single best predictor of future behaviors. And right now they are leveraging multiple social Web sites: MySpace and Facebook to chat with friends, Evite to send party invitations and LinkedIn to stay front and center for new business relationships. E-mail for these users has become a tool used strictly for the purpose of collecting business information — special offers, promotions and business information.

As we increase our usage of social networks, our use of e-mail will inevitably decline, reducing the success of e-mail marketing campaigns. Marketers need to take the time to understand what sites their users are comfortable in and then evaluate marketing opportunities in those spaces.

I don’t think it’s only that. (But it will be a large factor.) The other email killer is things like skype and other chat tools, mobile phone messaging, and RSS.

For any communication with your contacts, ther is a better way than email. Or at least there will be. With spam still filling most people’s inbox, they will undoubtedly move to other, uninterrupted channels and only open their email accounts to separate the „bacn“ from the spam.

So email marketing is not dead, as people will continue to use it. But in the next 5 years or so, we’ll probably see a shift in usage patterns, decreasing the target audiences attention to email. It is now, that we need to test the alternatives, so that we have working tactics in the future.

Try out producing widgets for facebook, offering RSS feeds (this should already be a no brainer!), sponsor chats and communities (or offer them yourself), and may be start advertising on the long tail of the web…

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Lifestreams, intersections and the digital trail

Steve Rubel explained why and how he started his lifestream – i.e. one central site for gathering any part of his digital trail: any Tweets, blogposts, Facebook notes, del.icio.us links and flickr photos. There is a wide range of different streams, that sometimes intersect at certain touchpoints (like I have my flickr images and my tweets on this page), which need to be aggregated.

A good idea, you can set one up easily at tumblr (30 seconds it says!). Steve even started a „reply stream“ to capture all the replies and comments to anything he published.

This is a logical continuation to bundling and remixing everything on the web using RSS. In the same way I am bundling all my favourite news sources (blogs, pictures, weather, press, etc.) on one startpage (netvibes, by the way – very recommendable), I should bundle all my output on one page for everyone to easily find. Which of course takes us to the other (still unsovled) side of the lifestream: how can I distribute content to all of these platforms and track the user traffic without having to visit all these sites all the time?

Is „lifestreams“ something many people will take up anytime soon? I don’t think so. It’s still to geeky, to much hastle, and most people have too few lifestreams anyway. But in a few years time, when more people will have an increasing digital trail, this might become a habit. We’ll see.

I think I will set one up shortly, once I am through with another – much more time consuming (and completely offline) – project that will keep me busy in the next 4 weeks. I’ll let you more about this soon on this site.

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Popular Web 2.0 Tools for B2B Marketers?

This is a headline I read at marketinvox.com. And this is the info you get there:

B2B marketers have adopted blogs and RSS more than other Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, according to the report; moreover, smaller marketers – the Davids among the Goliaths – are at the forefront: Some three-quarters of surveyed marketers that have deployed Web 2.0 tools are in companies of 10,000 or fewer people.

Some other findings from „The B2B Web 2.0 Tools Report“:

  • Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents use blogs, 58 percent use RSS feeds, followed by podcasts (54 percent), videocasts (43 percent), social networks and communities (42 percent) and wikis (19 percent).
  • The most frequently noted blogging services were WordPress (35 percent) and Blogger (30 percent), followed by TypePad (19 percent).
  • Users‘ favorite RSS readers are those offered by Mozilla Firefox (23 percent), MyYahoo (20 percent) and Bloglines (17 percent).

Fascinating news. So I went to the website of the tools report. On this site you get the results, and you can also participiate in the survey:

Tools are ranked according to the number of mentions by qualified B2B marketers. The number of ‘Votes’ is tallied in the second last column of the table.

If you sum up the votes, you can see that there are only 61 votes sofar. In my opinion this is hardly a solid number for issuing such a press release! Don’t get me wrong: the findings will be interesting, once there is a substantial number of participants. But don’t start with such a bold headline on such a small number of findings!

Regarding the statement „qualified B2B marketers“: the survey can be filled in by anyone. There are qualification questions, but you can fill in anything you want. I am sure there will be quite a few people filling in this survey in any random way, only because they are interested in receiving a full copy of the results.

Let’s wait and see what the results will be in a few weeks.

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Yahoo! Pipes – a meshup of feeds

I know I am fairly late with this, but this is absolutely astounding! Yahoo! Pipes let’s users create their own feeds based on any information on the web. Here is an example of a meta-search-feed:

The pipe you’re looking at demonstrates how to use a few of the more powerful modules. In this example a variety of sources are queried with the same term. The results are merged into one feed. Next, all the items are sorted by what was most recently published. Finally any items with identical titles are removed and a new RSS feed is born.

This is how it looks like:

pipes.jpg

Once you have created a pipe, you can subscribe to the feed via the usual suspects – bloglines in my case.

Apparently you can meshup all sorts of types of information. A popular one for example is a mixture of appartments for rent and google maps.

A fascinating example of how „plattforms“ and „programming“ become less important, because users only meshup what is of interest to them any way. Question is: how can marketers make sure that users still receive marketing messages? (And like receiving them, at the same time – that will be even more important!)

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Cool-hunting on the web becoming ever so popular.

We all know and like „cool hunting“ blogs like BoingBoing and coolhunting.com. But since recently, companies rely on these sources, as TheAge writes.

blog-watching and mining is big business and companies such as Nielsen BuzzMetrics and Cymfony have developed software to sift through and interpret the millions of voices talking in social network sites […] their software can help „process technology with expert analysis to identify the people, issues and trends impacting your business

A trend derived from true „streethunters“:

the concept of „cool-hunting“ evolved in the early 1990s and refers to a new breed of forecasters who spot trends and add their interpretation to developments in fashion and culture.

Only nowadays many trends are taken from (influential) bloggers:

innovation based on trend information is a hot topic. „We get virtually all of our ‚big spottings‘ – consumer behaviour-changing ideas, concepts, big-picture thinking – from blogs written by smart business thinkers such as Jeff Jarvis (http://buzzmachine.com) and Seth Godin (http://www.sethgodin.com),“ he says.

Which is smart, in a way. Why not tap into the vast network of people who aggregate information for you? You just have to decide which aggregators to listen to (because there are too many to listen to them all!). Further on it says:

Before the internet, a designer would have had to buy hundreds of magazines to keep in touch with what was happening in design around the world. Today they just take a look at 20 or so blogs each day and get the best information anyone can get

Combine that with an RSS tool, and your well set up…

Interestingly, many companies are starting software to even do the ground work:

A combination of technology and human analysis helps blog-watchers to spot a new trend or marketable product. At a cost of $US30,000 to $US100,000 ($A40,000 to $A133,000) a year, they use technologies known as „natural language processing“ and „unstructured data mining“ to unscramble the often ungrammatical writing and slang found in the estimated 100 million blogs worldwide.

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