E-mail Is Part of Web 2.0

As a large, global advertising agency, we’re expected to be able to provide strategic and innovative insights about what advertising’s and marketing’s future. This is a great role to be in, but recently I’ve been hearing one question that makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

With a clear shift into a Web 2.0 environment and planning already underway for what Web 3.0 will include, off-site peer-driven marketing conversations are the topic in almost every meeting. This means social networks, blogs, communities, RSS, and everything else that is so 2-dot-0. And with each of these conversations, I hear the same issue: “So…Web 2.0 means e-mail is dead, right? Because it really doesn’t fit.”

When people see the veins in my neck pop out, they realize they should rephrase the question, asking instead, “How does e-mail fit into the Web 2.0 world?”

My answer is this: E-mail is an absolutely essential element of Web 2.0 strategy. If you aren’t including e-mail in your media plans, site development plans, or overall strategy, you’ll find yourself at a significant competitive disadvantage in about five months.

In the Web 2.0 world, customers and prospects rely less on a site to inform them about products and services and more on peer networking. With its long-tail effect, the peer-to-peer networking world is extremely large and very niche. It’s impossible to effectively monitor and harness all the messages and buzz about a brand. This series of changes has definitely led to marketers’ loss of control over product and service influence and messaging.

E-mail is the only chance we have to refocus and redirect a customer’s or prospect’s attention back to the brand, store, and site. And e-mail isn’t going away anytime soon.

Gathering an e-mail address from visitors to your store, telecenter, or site is like attaching a magical hook to them. It gives you the ability to reel them in whenever you see fit. To ensure your hook is as effective as possible follow these three guidelines:

  • Ask for e-mail addresses on your site’s home and landing pages, as well as in other media channels. Send a thank-you e-mail to validate the address as correct. I know this seems basic, but many companies don’t do this. Asking for an e-mail address is the first step in getting someone to give you an e-mail address.

  • In your social network and community ads, include an opt-in request. If readers happen to be on an iPhone blog and see an ad for your company about iPhone service, it’s a perfect time to get them to opt in without having them go to your site to do it.
  • Plan to e-mail your entire user base once a quarter. I know, I know. You’re an advanced marketer and pull your lists only by segment. News flash: over 30 percent of the list never gets an e-mail from you. Take the time to send an e-mail to your entire e-mail opt-in base at least once a quarter to keep the relationship strong.

These three ideas can give you a significant advantage in the marketplace. Additionally, they being to address how e-mail plays a role in the Web 2.0 environment. This is just a start. If there’s interest in this topic, e-mail me, and I’ll talk more about it in future columns.

Want more e-mail marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our e-mail columns, organized by topic.

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