Email: The Offer They Can’t Refuse

I must admit that there is something immensely satisfying about email campaigns. These days, you can build a pretty creative campaign using free or open source tools like my current favourite, MailChimp, launch, send, measure and report on it’s effectiveness and then turn around and do it all again … with a great deal of ease.

And the nice thing is that the reporting is pretty much real time.

There are many similarities with blogging – the tracking and measurement, the control over content and messaging and even an understanding of user experience, pathing and conversion rates.

But where the consumption of blog content is relatively anonymous (unless you want to get very tricky), email surfaces a lot of interesting information about WHO reads your emails, WHAT they like and sometimes even WHY. And understanding this data, using it to deliver insight into your products, offerings, services or even the way you carry on the business of being social, will increasingly become a competitive advantage.

But before you get to data, you have to have something to send. And you want to maximise the effectiveness of every pixel on offer, right? This awesome infographic from the folks at Litmus provides all the right tips and tricks – and the shares the secret – a powerful call to action incorporating visual and text based cues. Check it out.

And don’t forget, you can subscribe to Servant of Chaos via RSS – or get the latest social business insight via the –> Social Way newsletter (see my use of arrows there!).


Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

Whether we like it or not, social media is transforming every dimension of our life – at work, at home and with friends. The impact of this has far reaching implications for the way we live, what we value and the way we participate in our society. It is a complicated situation that can be easily ignored. These five must-read posts from last week shed some light on these topics:

  1. Kate Carruthers leads out with a discussion on the reputation economy, employees and privacy and suggests that “privacy is truly dead”.
  2. Greg Smith, Goldman Sachs executive, dropped a bomb shell, publishing his resignation letter on the New York Times opinion pages. It’s an astounding indictment of business practice that must be read.
  3. Organisations need to be able to cope with (and support) their employees who use and engage with social media. Here are the US Army Reserve’s ten rules for social media practitioners. Great stuff.
  4. With all this change taking place, it is making us question ourselves – our satisfaction, our happiness and even our position in the order of things. Umair Haque calls it a mid-life crisis. It feels to me closer to a Crisis of Purpose.
  5. As we click our way across the internet, we leave footsteps – fingerprints – digital signifiers that indicate our temporal interest or attention. All this information is captured and stored – and can be pieced together and used to “engage” us. But where is the line between relevant and spooky? Valeria Maltoni asks someone who should know.

Creative is Back – Conversational Topics with Responsys’ @simonoz

As I sat bleary eyed in the audience at the Ad:Tech Sydney breakfast briefing this morning, three words sailed over the heads of the audience and slapped me awake – “creative is back”.

He said it again for added impact – creative is back.

The speaker, Responsys’ Simon O’Day, was part of a panel focusing on email marketing – but his interest was broader. He was talking lifecycle marketing, multi-channel and data.

I caught up with him after the panel for a quick conversation and to get a greater sense of what he was hinting at. Here are some of the themes we discussed:

Creative is back: there is a clear opportunity but also a challenge in the years ahead – after all, we are now all receiving vast amounts of email every day. The opportunity and challenge is to invest in creative and bring it into the heart of our campaigns and use that to cut through.

Data drives insights: there is a vast amount of data now at our fingertips – but rather than delivering insights, most marketers are drowning. Increasingly we need to look to technology to help us sift through the information that is available to us. My view was that we needed some creative partnering to take place – between the marketing teams, agencies and companies like Responsys. To make this data work for us all, we need the deep expertise and the maturity to collaborate. Of course, that’s easier said than done!

Data is everywhere: We have our mailing lists and our databases – and that is all goodness. But social networks are now delivering additional data points that can deliver fantastic insights – as long as you know where to look. We should be looking for these opportunities beyond our own organisations – and tapping into the networks of value that already exist.

Imagine a world of 100% plus open rates: This is where it got interesting. As we spoke, Simon became more and more animated. He explained that hidden deep within the data – what Responsys call “profile extensions” – is information that allows you to engage people in a highly relevant way. The way I understood this was that a new piece of data – like a status update or a change in profile information (whether in your system or on Facebook or Twitter etc) could trigger an engagement – like an SMS alert, an email or an @ message. And because it was highly targeted and relevant, it generates 100%+ open rates.

So what we are seeing, really, are micro-segmentation capabilities that are based on people’s behaviours rather than demographic or other forms of segmentation. It’s pretty exciting – slightly spooky – but also the way of the future.

So what do you think? Is this deep level of targeting, when coupled with a focus on permission a way for us to deal with email overload? Is this a new way of understanding trust or is it going in the opposite direction? You tell me.

Your First Week of Blogging

When I first started blogging, I felt like I was living a divided life. There was “real life” – colleagues, friends and family – and then there was my “blogging life” – these great new people that I was connecting with all over the world.

Back then the “real life” people couldn’t understand my interest in my “pretend friends”. They could not understand the hours that I would spend on my computer. Of course, the real mis-understanding was that I was focused on the machine in the corner of my study – for in reality I was in deep relationship building with people on the other side of the world. The computer was almost invisible to me.

These days things have changed. Now I am often setting up blogs for friends and family – and watching them pick up, stumble and even sometimes power along with their online efforts.

With most businesses I recommend the development of a continuous digital strategy, and while the same approach can be applied at an individual level, most people aren’t ready for that kind of commitment. YET, almost everyone needs a framework within which they can understand what they are doing. They need something practical.

And for that, I always recommend connecting in with Darren Rowse. Australia’s very own ProBlogger knows his stuff – and his Guide to Your First Week of Blogging really helps you to get started. Of course, you could just trawl through the archives on Darren’s site, but most people are impatient to get started. So download the book and send me a link to your new site! What are you waiting for?

Five Must-Read Posts from Last Week

It’s been a busy fortnight (I love using that work even if it’s a little archaic these days).

In fact, the first couple of months of the year have flown by – and to be honest, I am feeling a little nostalgic for the time when January was a “slow month” and we could take some time to think and plan before rushing into project action.

But no matter how busy you are, you’ll want to read these gems from last week. There’s only five. It will be your best investment for the week!

  1. Stowe Boyd shares this conversation between Fast Company writer, Linda Tischler and  Roger Martin, author of The Design of Business. It’s a great read and plays to the type of thinking I love – Why Companies Need Futurists, Not Analysts.
  2. Just because much of social media is free, it doesn’t mean it is cheap. My buddy, Drew McLellan has produced a Social Media Strategy Workbook that you can download for free. But putting your strategy into action will tax your brain.
  3. Do we still believe in civic responsibility? Should we? Danielle Chiaverini asks some challenging questions.
  4. A lot of times – especially in social media – we talk about “just doing it”. This has appeal for those who have a vested interest in “talkability” – after all, you need a reason to share, right? But Valeria Maltoni asks, what’s the value of thinking in a do culture.
  5. The team at Zeus Jones have put together this great presentation that just shares “what’s on our minds at the moment”. I love the simplicity of that concept – and the fact that they are sharing ideas that are bourn out of their work with their clients.

Are You the Agent of Your Own Change?

Have you ever made a deep change in your life? Did you look at the status quo and decide you didn’t like the shape, smell or grind that defined your life? If so – did you have the courage to change? Did you make that u-turn?

At the recent fastBREAK event – Vibewire’s co-production with the Powerhouse Museum, five speakers explored this topic. My favourite was this one story by Phil Gomes. He explains how he was able to turn his interest and passion for bikes and cycling into a job as an online editor with SBS Cycling Central.

It wasn’t easy – or even quick. But Phil makes the point – “be the agent of your own change”.

Infographic: Pin It to Win It

Just when you think there can’t possibly be ANOTHER social network to add to the crowded list – along comes Pinterest. Not only has Pinterest been able to garner an audience – it’s one of the fastest growing social networking sites in history, generating 11.7 million visits in the month of January.

My view is that this growth has been spurred on largely through integration with the Facebook Open Graph (Pinterest was one of the first 60 partners). The strategic alignment of platforms like this will see new entrants having to take sides in what will become a war of ecosystems – Google v Facebook. It will make for interesting times – and certainly lead to consolidation over the coming year.

But coming back to Pinterest – we can certainly expect to see an increasing use by brands hoping to share in the massive volume of click through traffic that the site generates. The cool thing for brands and for businesses is that they will need to focus on topics not products or risk having their pinboards deleted. That means that – perhaps – brands will start to understand the nature of “adjacent conversations” and the power that they lend to your social media marketing efforts.

Note: Before you get too excited about Pinterest, take a quick look at an alternative view – the RISKS of using Pinterest.

MDG Advertising has created this neat infographic to highlight some of the more salient facts and figures.


Report: Outlook for Australian Social Business

Outlook for Australian Social Business Report In the fast-moving world of social media, technology and marketing, you can be excused for feeling like you are being “left behind”. There’s always another new site, social network or mobile app to assess, figure out or show off to your friends and colleagues.

Now, the majority of these come from the US – but we are seeing more of these innovative startups appearing on the local Australian scene (take for example the recent launch of Roamz).

But startups are one thing. Adopting these innovations and using them in your business is quite another.

So a couple of months back I asked for input to a survey on the BUSINESS practice of social media. I wanted to know what people were thinking and what they were doing. I wanted to understand the ROADBLOCKS and the challenges as well as the opportunities that were emerging – specifically in an Australian context.

And now the results are in – and make for fascinating reading. The use of social media appeared far more widespread than I had expected – with a change in focus and a deeper commitment in terms of budget and resources. Moreover, this commitment cuts across all business sectors and sizes – it’s not just the small business owner who is investing in social business … the pattern is repeating right up to the largest national and global enterprises.

The real challenge is seems is twofold:

  1. Addressing the perception gap – the difference between what and how brands use social media and the expectations that their customers have
  2. Demonstrating value – we clearly need to find metrics that work for our businesses. Note that this does not seem to be a roadblock to investment!

You can download the analysis and the results here. The first 100 downloads are available at a 50% discount – only $49 (use discount code socialway).

I plan on repeating this survey each six months – to map this challenging and fast changing space. Keep up-to-date by subscribing to the Social Way newsletter.