Communication as we know it, whether it be on a personal, B2B or B2C level, has fundamentally changed. Previously we relied on multiple static devices to send emails, make phone calls and search the internet for information. Now the widespread adoption of smartphones has not only empowered consumers by giving them the ability to access the online world from almost anywhere, but it has also evolved how we communicate, who we communicate with and which channels we turn to to do so. On top of this, we’re now always connected, using our palm sized devices for everything from sending emails to checking the weather, posting on Twitter and Facebook or checking in via Foursquare.
Silverpop refers to this overwhelming growth in the use of mobile devices and social networking as ‘Mocial’. The rise of Mocial redefines the consumer engagement and marketing model, and this fast paced change is affecting retailers, brands and marketers in a number of ways.
First, multi-channel marketing as we know it has changed – no longer can an on-pack promotion supported by a direct mail programme and web advertising campaign be passed off as effective multi-channel activity. Rather, the vast number of channels that have recently emerged require brands to think more strategically and holistically than ever, with a view to fully integrating and supporting each channel with another. But the rapid growth of Mocial has left a lot of brands and retailers scrambling to catch up, and the efforts we often see are not quite cutting it.
Recent Silverpop research into the level of Mocial activity in UK marketing campaigns highlighted this breakdown in integration. Only 13 percent of marketing programmes were entirely integrated across mobile, social and email while 62 percent of respondents stated that they had somewhat integrated their activity. The Mocial research revealed that less than half of marketers have clear goals for social media site likes and followers, blog subscribers or mobile app downloads. Even fewer had in place ways of tracking the frequency and reach of sharing and engagement via social media channels.
Further research by the Radicati Group also highlighted the importance email marketing should play in multi-channel marketing. It found that worldwide there are nearly a billion more email accounts than social network accounts. But consumers are becoming more choosy about which channels they use for specific activities, placing pressure on brands and retailers to get their message targeting right. In this way, whilst email may remain the most popular channel for consumers, to ensure marketers are going where customers are email marketing activity must increasingly be mingled with mobile and social channels. Despite the number of challenges this might create for marketers, effective integration of these Mocial channels can help email marketing standout from the clutter and grow the value it provides customers.
Both pieces of research clearly point to the fact that although significant time and money has been invested into mobile and social, brands and retailers need to more strongly consider how these channels can be used to invigorate existing email and marketing activity and objectives. It also shows a reluctance to embrace the possibilities that new marketing channels provide, or just simply a lack of awareness or trust in what can be achieved through them and how this can be done. All too often we see brands and retailers operate marketing channels like different silos, running the risk of creating fragmented and confused brand messages. This not only impedes branding and sales, but also hinders the growth of each marketing channel. Rather these silos should be joined using email, mobile and social to support each other, helping boost cut-through and uptake across all areas of a marketing campaign. But how should channels be combined to improve customer service, and how will it best facilitate the delivery of these outcomes?
This is where a strong and constantly growing email database will show its worth. Email campaigns can alert consumers to the new channels available to them and encourage uptake of them. Facebook and Twitter links will promote your social network presence and also encourage sharing of your content, thereby reaching a wider audience. SMS opt-in options should also be present, if the consumer wants to get offers and deals on the move. The benefit of this is that it can then work the other way to facilitate growth of the original email database. Including email opt-ins on your social network sites or tweeting consumers to encourage them to sign up for newsletters are just two ways of going about this, with the end result being a sturdy and developing customer base.
While email marketing has previously been focused on targeting consumers with promotional, purchase and product information, the wide adoption of Mocial means this understanding now needs to be evolved. Multi-channel consumers engage and communicate with a brand via the channel that suits them best at that point in time. To realise the true value this offers, time and effort must be invested into understanding a customer’s communication preferences. For example, would a travel consumer want to receive flight delay information via text or Twitter? Similarly, are they more welcoming to promotions via Facebook or email? By gathering information that enables brands to learn about these preferences, and having a system in place that incorporates them into marketing activity, we can ensure that timely and relevant information is delivered via the medium that is most convenient and favoured by the consumer.
Consumers are embracing Mocial channels in part due to the informal and social aspect they offer, giving them control over the content that they receive. This provides opportunities for brands and retailers to create engaging content that will then be shared amongst a relevant audience. However, recipients must see a benefit to sharing a marketing message. What are they motivated by? This is the first point that needs to be agreed upon. Email marketing content that resonates with the user and appeals to their interests is more likely to be deemed share worthy and get passed on to similar consumers, increasing brand exposure and potentially greater sales volume. This turns customers into an extension of a retailers acquisition and awareness efforts for relatively minimal time and cost, and allow Mocial channels to really show their merit.
When integrating Mocial channels into email marketing activity, it is important that the activity across new and established channels is mutually supportive. Each can then be used to sustain the other. For example, emails can incentivise sharing across social networks, and social networks can be used to drive exposure of email newsletters and online offers. Such integration will increase traffic across all consumer touch points, driving awareness and sales in the process.
The growing dominance and acceptance of Mocial channels brings about a number of new and exciting marketing opportunities for brands and retailers. But it is essential that that these are incorporated into existing marketing activity and driven by a well thought through, planned and highly strategic approach based on a clear set of marketing goals. By putting in place a clearly defined Mocial strategy, brands and retailers will ensure that their ventures into this new and ever developing world will not only support existing marketing activity, but justify their investment by generating more impressive and measurable returns.