beth kanter (@kanter on twitter) is well known in the web 2.0 community as a leader in helping nonprofits leverage the growing collection of social media tools - for development, volunteer recruitment, and increasing communications with both supporters and others. this presentation explains in clear terms why nonprofits should be using social media channels with examples of eers who are doing so successfully.
I write quite often from the perspective of larger company social media and business communications. That’s because most of my clients are large companies. However, these social tools allow a small business owner a lot in the way of advantages, and I want to put together a little map of steps I might take if I were running a small business and wanted more sales.
as chris notes here, most of his clients are larger firms. these are great suggestions for small businesses who want to get the benefits of the new social media tools without investing a boatload of cash (or time).
Welcoming landing pages "make friendly introductions that lead to comfortable conversations." Diverse landing pages lead visitors "to the spaces that most closely align with their intent." Focused landing pages match your visitor's intent more closely with your site content, thus boosting "the alignment of your goals and theirs." And that, Talerico concludes, is the very definition of "conversion."
literally the missing link in too many social media strategies
Brands, too, can take advantage of Facebook's knack for spoon-feeding relationships into users' laps. If you're into e-commerce, or have a site that invites users to engage with it in some way (such as YouTube), registering for free with Facebook Connect means friends can see what users are buying, uploading or otherwise doing on your site.
this level of information sharing is what burned facebook a few years ago, but the concept is dead on. handled correctly, the ability to show _prospective_ buyers/clients the names and ideally testimonials of friends and/or business associates is an incredibly powerful sales incentive
Hope I’m not too disruptive here, but I disagree with a lot of what was said. It is the responsibility of every business owner to make the most profit from whatever assets it has. For a company that does most of its business over the internet, e.g. a content provider, email can be its distribution means, its marketing means, and a revenue source since rental can provide more than half of its income. To not do this, simply for altruistic reasons, is an actionable legal issue for stockholders (obviously, if too much use causes reputation damage or fatigue, that’s different).
There is nothing wrong with advertising as long as the CANSPAM conditions are met. I never asked to have commercials as I watch television, but I know they pay the freight, I think most people are equally accepting with email as long as the source is clear and the option to unsub is presented (i.e. not spam). And I disagree that this kind of use of an email list presents a unique ethical issues, if there is an issue here then the issue is everywhere.
Marketing literature from that past fifty years advises that advertising must be interruptive in nature in order to be effective. Email is effective exactly because it is a one-to-one communications medium and it more difficult to ignore than broadcast mediums.
Every advertiser knows that only a small fraction of the people he advertises to will be a customer. Perhaps every customer for chewing gum is not a customer for teeth whitening. But logically that list will have a higher percentage of interest and therefore a better, more profitable response rate. But you don’t know who those customer are unless you interrupt everyone on the list. Its just like I have to see television commercials for feminine hygiene commercials, even though I’m never going to be a customer because there are a lot of potential customers in the audience.
I understand that spam is rampant and very annoying to email users. But that’s not us. Renting a list from a reputable provider should not be a problem or a philosophical issue, any more than buying time on radio or space in a magazine. Of course you have to consider the source, the reputation and past reponse, but lets not paint all list rental sources with the spam brush, its just not true. Yes there is risk, but business is all about risk.
And you can’t generalize about effectiveness or profitabily on any of these methods. I can name a dozen companies that do just great renting lists. And someone must be doing well with co-regs, otherwise there wouldn’t be an industry. The point is you have try it, you have to study it, you have to objectively see it if it fits into your strategy. If you aren’t, then you aren’t doing your job and your company will suffer.
Chris, by the way, while in theory spam traps are supposed to work that way, they are frequently used to sabotage legitimate lists (motive was political in our case…).
My two cents.
5 08.11.09 at 8:08 am
First, let me be clear that we’re discussing a fundamental difference in emailing strategy. I respect your response to our blog post and am glad this has triggered debate! It would seem, in my industry experience, that this has been a subject that people fall on one side or the other without really knowing the deeper reasons behind why there are different factions around whether list rental is a good idea or not. Let’s hope this continues the discussion and we’d love to hear the thoughts of other readers of this blog.
I posit that your assertion of list rental being a good source of revenue is only a small piece of a much larger picture. List rental as part of an email marketing strategy can make sense in some cases but in the vast majority, it doesn’t. The long-term damage that renting a list from some entity and taking it on faith that those email addresses are valid and have recipients sitting behind it that are accepting of the mail you’ll send them outweighs the monetary gain. If you have a clear channel setup to receive email addresses directly and set expectations with recipients correctly, then list rental could severely damage the effort you’ve put into creating a robust direct marketing relationship. The interruptive nature of marketing is abstracted a bit with email because I can check it when I’d like. And if I don’t like what I get whenever I do check it, I let the sender (via unsubscribe) or ISP (via spam button) know. Are there certain situations where a list swap or rental could result in me getting an email that I don’t throw away? Of course. 99% of the time, though, I see marketing entities and rental providers enter the situation and abuse the recipient by too broadly targeting or flat out not showing the relevance – if the email address is even valid and makes it that far.
You mention TV and commercials. I can turn a TV off or change the channel if a station is marketing too much or incorrectly to me. With email, we can’t expect recipients to recycle through email addresses every time they start getting a deluge of unwanted and incorrectly marketed email. That’s why ISPs take complaints so seriously.
We both know CAN-SPAM compliancy shouldn’t be the end game of whether an email meets the litmus test of possibly providing conversion. If we’re only worried about conversion and revenue, all we have to do is look at spam’s reason for existence. However, as part of a long term marketing relationship, email should go beyond CAN-SPAM compliancy – and list rental seems orthogonal to that.
Everything from targeting, cross promoting (the gum chewer and teeth whitener), and reengagement/win-back programs can be done without renting lists. If you have a well defined and sophisticated marketing program, the recipients you’ve acquired should be sufficient. I don’t understand how you can achieve these things only by bringing 3rd party lists in-house. Again, the risk of irrelevance and user reaction is too high.
Note, in my blurb, I didn’t say all list rental companies are bad nor is every person who rents a list bad. I, too, know of several companies out there that have decent list rental services. But, I think it’s also about the reputations of the folks who run them - the ones who want repeat business and a loyal customer base provide good lists to the best of their ability. Sometimes, though, that isn’t enough since an email address can’t be measured until something has been sent. There are a lot more companies that will collect email addresses in any way possible, slap a marketing spin on them to say they match criteria X, Y and Z (whatever the marketer is looking for), collect a check and then hand the list off. Their culpability ends there (especially if you’re in a different country).
So, I ask the blog audience, what can list rental do that an organically grown, directly acquired email list cannot? It’s one thing to serve up your content to another party to send on your behalf (like some of the list managers out there), but to assume the liability of those lists by sending from your system is dangerous.
To that end, Bronto has determined that rented lists are unacceptable to use with our platform. This is a deliberate decision that has been made with a lot of thought and consideration for different marketers’ needs. But, in the end, we believe that sending email to rented lists will cause brand reputation, deliverability, and conversion issues over time with recipients. If and when the market decides to have more good players with good technology in it, we’ll reevaluate this stance and will support those services that do have good practices. This is not altruism. This is good old fashioned business engineering for us – we grow our business by keeping existing clients sending to recipients who don’t adversely react to the mail sent to them (thereby ultimately finding it useful enough to engage) and by attracting prospects who also follow this tenet. Bronto is successful because we have proven time and again that by not having clients engage in list rentals, our value proposition increases.
Finally, I don’t think testing is required to determine whether list rental can have a negative impact on a marketing program. The statistics are already there for our clientele and from the ISPs and from recipients and…well..you get the picture. Preponderance of abusing list rental, alongside recipients, is too high to allow for the edge cases where it might wildly be successful.
Thanks for your input and the challenge of articulating these thoughts out.
the main thrust of the post is that list rental is bad bad bad, but things heat up in the comments section (first salvo excerpted here). when I sign up for stuff, I am accustomed to seeing an opt-in "to receive emails from trusted partners." I always leave this unchecked, but for those who do, where's the harm?
There are more than 30 million active users currently accessing Facebook through their mobile devices. (source) People that use Facebook on their mobile devices are almost 50% more active on Facebook than non-mobile users. (source)
I know I saw the 30mm number floating arond the other day, but I was more impressed by the following tidbit. because it's _harder_ to use the web on a mobile device. those facebookers must be seriously motivated.
oh, and mostly from other places.
Someone somewhere once said, “Don’t forget about the little guy.” I guess I could Google the answer, but I am to lazy to bother. It just sounded like a good opening line for this post.
Yesterday, a friend of mine who owns a local main street business here in lovely San Carlos, California. I was preaching, evangelizing , chatting about the benefits of Social Media and how it can help brands gain awareness. He quickly looked at me and said “What about the regular folks? You know the guys like me without a big budget?” After the shock of having him finally engage me in a conversation about what I do wore off, I told him I would write a blog post with my answer. (Hey anything to get traffic.. right?” So here you go Ed. This one is for you. I would like to share with you my thoughts, in list form, cause people like lists. Here are 5 ways a local business can use social media to gain awareness.
-Have a website and a blog. Simple right? One mistake I see is that companies create the website but not the blog. You need to have a blog. It allows your clients to get more insight into what you do, your background, your history and more. If you make sure to tag your articles, use keywords, etc this will help people stumble across you on google.
-Get on Twitter. Yep, here comes Twitter again, its power can not be denied. You need to get on there and start “Tweeting” posting information, insight, background..(wait it is just like a blog! Yes it is, it is called micro-blogging!) Here is the key for success, make sure to comment back to others and engage in conversation. Shhh, this will be our secret.
-Get a Facebook page. Like you did not see this one coming right? You need to have a fanpage. Are you going to get 100,000 fans? No. Do you need a 100,000 fans? No. Will having conversations with some local people, having local people join help with your awareness in your community? You bet. The key here is when people comment on your fanpage and you comment back, their friends will see it. It is worth its wait in gold.
-Your the expert. So what I like to tell people is setup your website like your the expert. So if your my friend Ed, you are Ed The Real Estate agent. You are Ed, the most knowledgeable Real Estate Agent in San Carlos. Make sure to blog about Real Estate in our area. Your a local guy, talking about homes in New York is not going to make you money. Talking about Homes here in San Carlos, will make you money. When that family who needs an agent thinks ” We need a bigger home, who is that online guy from Facebook?” You get the idea.
-Link Love. Make sure to link to other local businesses on your website. They will return the favor. Plus it helps with your Google Page Rank
-Find ways to use online tools in a different way. Try things out. Maybe take orders via Twitter. Offer to send pictures of products via email. Give out coupon codes on Facebook. The possibilities are endless. I am talking about taking chances and thinking outside the box.
Bonus tip: Go to Meetups, Tweetups, mixtures or whatever they are called these days. They are all over the place and local. Get out there.
So what are some of the tips I forgot? There must be a ton.
Posted under Blog
another reminder that social media tools are focusing the world wide web on your neighborhood
nteresting visual, although I think it ignores the concept of synchronicity as a measure of interactivity. for example, in a real conversation, one person speaks and the other responds. with a letter, on the other hand, one person "speaks" but even aside from the delay in transmission, the other person has control over when he or she replies.
using this basis of comparison, the items can be categorized in three ways. conversation, video chat and telephone achieve the highest level of synchronous communication. messages - instant, text, facebook or twitter - have the potential to be synchronous but do not have to be. facebook status updates also fall into this category (although communication by status message seems rather impersonal!). email and snail mail correspondence, while arguably more private, cannot achieve the intimacy of synchronous communication.
I would also argue the categorization of twitter messages as broadcast (one to many) when those getting the greatest value from the service are using it as a conversational medium. those conversations may be public, but they can still be very personal...