Not sure how many of you spent your New Year's Eve at Pure, the club overlooking the jammed Las Vegas Strip. I shared the veranda overlooking the festivities with nearly 20 friends and family. Brittany made a fleeting appearance then was gone (or passed out, as press reports claim). Vegas is a wild place to be any night, and New Year's Eve brings out more of the craziness. It is, after all, home of wild hopes and dreams, played out on the nearest slot machine, crap table, or roulette wheel. Each spin or turn of a card could bring fame or fortune. It seems the world can't get enough of an atmosphere in which all things seem possible.
Camping out near the DJ, by the edge of the roof, for an optimal view of the midnight fireworks display was an adventure. Nursing my libation, there was lots to think about: resolutions, a recap of the past year's events, the road ahead, and this column. I found myself wondering if this would be the year that:
Marketers truly understand irrelevant e-mail equals spam. This is a very hard lesson for most marketers. In a world that continues to bombard consumers with messages in every medium, where consumers continue to demonstrate their right to disregard irrelevant and annoying e-mail, methinks it's time smart marketers woke up to the fact they're losing customers to their lack of discipline about leveraging the data they have about us.
Search addiction ends. Not sure the addiction to all things Google will end this year. The company has hit the lazy nerve in most marketing departments. Folks would much rather spend money reacquiring current customers than spend the time working on converting new customers coming through a search engine into customers they communicate with in a meaningful, timely, and much more cost-effective manner.
We focus on messaging, not creative. Don't mistake my meaning. I'm not saying a marketer's e-mail messaging shouldn't be creatively engaging from a graphic and look-and-feel standpoint. It's just that we must ensure subject lines and copy are customer-friendly and benefit-orientated. Do I think we'll get it this year? Not likely, so long as we continue to take advice from folks more interested in winning awards than selling product. Time to focus on making your messaging team accountable for campaign performance from a needle-moving standpoint.
We make ROI-based decisions. I'm encouraged by what I see in various economy sectors with marketers looking at e-mail campaigns and measuring their effectiveness on an ROI (define) basis. We need to do much more of this. We must all understand that though e-mail can be a branding channel, it's primarily an opportunity to drive incremental sales and profits. It's a measurable medium. Will all transactions from an e-mail campaign be completed on the Web? No. More to the point, in '07 your organization must be focused on learning about the e-mail campaign's effectiveness in driving sales in all channels.
We obsess over data more appropriately. A lot of focus these days is on appending data, merging data, manipulating data, data access, data integration, and the like. I worry this obsession with data on every level misses the key point about data collection. Will you do the hard work required to understand the data you have, then build business rules that acknowledge your customer understanding and leverage that understanding to build more meaningful campaigns and dialogues with customers? In our Google quick-fix world, I'm worried this will be another year of data warehousing. You don't need warehouses, you need fast lanes that allow you to capture data in real time, then use the data to ease the path between your customer and the checkout line.
Offline publishers finally get it. I read lots over the holidays about private equity players lining up to purchase publishing companies. Old dogs seem to be trying to learn new tricks. Seems the new money in publishing realizes YouTube is the new magazine paradigm. Understand the editorial content that creates a community, then monetize the audience. The signs are hopeful; everyone seems to be saying the right things: "We must embrace the Web and build new audiences via e-mail publications." Only the strong will survive. The big dilemma facing publishers and their new parents will be retraining and educating sales forces (which have historically given e-mail sponsorships for free) to sell this most powerful of connections between content and readers.
E-CRM becomes a reality. After my online holiday shopping experiences, I sure hope marketers understand the power of e-mail communication that leverages the marketing and services sides of the business. Too many companies act as if the selling side has little or no relation to the servicing side. I don't see many relevant up-sell messages in service reminders and the like. I continue to be bombarded with sell messages, despite the fact I'm having service issues. Not only do the front of the house and back of the house need to talk to each other, they also need to understand they're talking to the same customer and live in the same space.
Will 2007 be the year all this happens? I have a longer list of worries and hopes for 2007. I'm putting my money on companies that are spending early January planning for Q4. These folks are worried about their competition sneaking up on them. They're setting aggressive goals and dedicated to staffing their organizations with people who are more concerned about being number one than with any other number.
I may be crazy to think all this will happen. But as my man Billy Joel says, it just may be a lunatic you're looking for.
Happy New Year,
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Long recognized as one of the direct response industry's premier innovators and a pioneer in e-mail communications, Al DiGuido brings over 20 years of marketing, sales, management, and operations expertise to his role as CEO of full-service digital marketing company Zeta Interactive. Formerly Epsilon Interactive's CEO, DiGuido also served as CEO of Bigfoot Interactive, CEO of Expression Engines, EVP at Ziff Davis, and publisher of Computer Shopper, where he launched ComputerShopper.com, a groundbreaking direct-to-consumer e-commerce engine. Prior to Ziff Davis, he was VP/advertising director for Sports Inc. DiGuido also serves on the Direct Marketing Association's Ethics Policy Committee.