The Bandwagon Has Room

You don’t hear much from the people who said e-mail was dead, but you sure hear from the folks jumping on the e-mail bandwagon these days. Whether due to the CFO-friendly ROI of the channel or the jaw-dropping valuations of an e-mail coupon company (Groupon is its formal name), e-mail has dropped its old school shackles and become the belle of the ball again.

Yep, e-mail is not just hot in a marketing kind of way, but in a central foundation business model kind of way. DailyCandy blazed trails, Groupon set them on fire, and now even the humble e-mail newsletter is the platform of choice for hot to trot entrepreneurs looking to distance themselves from the crowded social/Web 3.0 catfight.

As tech entrepreneur Jason Calacanis tweeted: “Everyone rocking email now! :)”

Think about it – if you have a brand, product, and/or service, something (content, offers, a new product) an audience might like to hear, and the wherewithal to see it through, you too can launch an e-mail marketing-fueled company. Let’s look at some things that will happen in 2011 to firmly plant the digital crown on e-mail’s battered head.

  • The investment/financial community has noticed. This goes well beyond Groupon’s halo and the other companies using e-mail as their “product.” The companies that provide the services and technology to these firms, not to mention the brands that have long relied on e-mail to communicate to their customers and prospects for years, are experiencing major growth.

    The M&A space is hot in this sector and among my e-mail marketing brethren, one has even just filed for an IPO. Expect a lot of transactions in the e-mail service and technology space in 2011, which will keep e-mail on the front page of the business section.

  • Much like search in the early 2000s, every hot digital channel needs a wingman. Search needed e-mail to form a bridge to talk to these newly acquired customers and leads. Social needs e-mail to drive the conversations and traffic to these new engaging destinations and then monetize them. For a primer, check out my two-part series on integrating e-mail and social.
  • How/where e-mails are read in 2011. Mobile has become huge in many ways (the iPhone is singlehandedly creating new business models thanks to the success of its apps) and not as much as expected in others (SMS opt-ins to brands have not grown in the way most predicted), but it all doesn’t matter. Mobile won’t even describe one of the ways people use the Internet in a few years, as it will be a de facto way for exploring the Interwebs.

    We all know people are using their mobile device for a plethora of tasks, and in multiple locations (meetings, grocery stores, dinner tables, etc). But what are they doing? Almost half of every hour on the mobile Internet is spent on e-mail, by far more than any other task (yes, that means you social networking). So get religious with mobile e-mail in 2011 and capitalize on location-based e-mail consumption, as most of your subscribers are reading your e-mails on the go – or it may be ugly.

  • E-mail automation can kill your dinner or yourself. E-mail automation and lead cycle programs are hot, and rightly so. A well-planned and -executed automated e-mail campaign that provides a nurturing and helpful path for your prospects can be incredibly rewarding on many fronts.

    The reality is most have great intentions but suffer from horrible creative and content (um, five direct mail type letters won’t get read, I promise!). Additionally, they are often plagued with high frequency and an internal marketing driven path rather than demonstrating clear value for your subscriber. Do these right or they will backfire.

Where do you think e-mail is going in 2011 and what are the top areas of interest you will be working on?

P.S. – RSS seems to be the dead man walking in 2011, as I have seen several stories this week declaring (and defending) that RSS is dead. Here’s Seth Godin’s take.

Related reading

15.04.2015 Images at The Entertainer at Little Chalfont, Bucks
(C) Emma Hollings Photography
www.emmahollings.co.uk
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