I had a total Outlook facepalm moment last fall. Our company culture here at the Ranch is big into sharing and celebrating each other’s successes. But it got to a point with the congratulatory “Reply All’s” that it’d take a better part of the morning to sift through and get to actual work-related e-mails. So we all collectively agreed not to “Reply All,” that the first one to respond would represent all of us in the giving of kudos. One morning, our Miss Manners Meredith forwarded some glowing feedback from a recent client, one that I myself had worked with closely. I wanted to shout praise for our team on a job well done, on how lovely that client was and how great it was that their meeting was a success. But our Ranch Czarina Eva had beaten me to the punch. I still wanted to express my joy at receiving this message, so I did what any Social Media Strategist with not enough coffee checking their e-mail at 6AM in the morning would do: I tried to “LIKE” it. And after several minutes of trying to find a “LIKE” button on Outlook…yeah, that’s right, the facepalm moment totally happened. So I sat there staring at Outlook, left joyless and shareless. And I can’t help but wonder if this lack of immediate interaction is what effects some of the challenges of e-mail marketing.

Social media marketing has been booming. Watching the growth of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) over the last few years is akin to watching email overtake faxes and phone calls as a major form of business communication. Several studies have shown that consumers prefer the brand dialogue that these social networks offer over the one-sided blasting of a mass email. There are even some in the social media industry that predict that as a primary means of communication, very soon “email will be dead.” So do we abandon our monthly e-newsletters like 2012-Doomsday Believers selling their homes and running for Appocalypse shelters? Survey says: just hold on a minute.

There are many pros to continuing e-mail marketing. There might be different events, promotions or discounts that might need more explaining than 140 characters will allow. Some of your customer base may keep their personal lives on social media and professional lives through e-mail, which would in turn be the best way to reach them. By focusing on which platform(s) your customer base is spending their time and tailoring messages accordingly, you are not only giving them the best customer service you can but marketing to them in the best way possible. The most important thing about today’s consumer is that they prefer to have conversations rather than be talked at.

Social media is a great way to keep the conversation mutual, but what about email marketing? By its very nature it is one-sided (especially with the “do not reply” addresses many companies utilize.) Scott Cohen of Inbox Group suggests that an e-mail should be a conversation starter. By adding conversational elements into the body of the email, by adding the human element and striving to connect with your customer rather than simply sharing information, you will inspire them to action. Whether that action is to share opinions about your company and services on social media or actually utilize your services, it’s a win all around.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Constant Contact, a leader in email marketing and software, will be leading an extensive workshop at the Ranch on “The 5 Practices for Effective Email Marketing” on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 from 6PM to 8PM. It is an event we are proud to present with our friends at Big Ooga. Click here to register for the event. And tell us what you think, either on Twitter, Facebook, or good ol’ email. Whichever method you choose to connect with us, we look forward to connecting with you!

 

Danny Bernardo is Catalyst Ranch’s Go-to-Guy, Friendly Neighborhood Client-Pal and Social Media Strategist. He reads exactly 65% of the e-newsletters he subscribes to. Also, he over abuses loves the use of  the parenthetical. For more info about him, visit our staff page or his personal page.