Adoption of 'Mocial' Marketing Channels Is Still Early

In my December 2010 column, "Email's New Role In a World Gone 'Mocial'" (http://www.mediapost.com/publications/index.cfm?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=142115), I outlined some thoughts on how email would thrive in an environment where consumers increasingly go mobile, social and local.  

That column spawned an idea to survey email marketers to better understand where they are on the mocial adoption and integration curve.  

In a nutshell, we're still early in the mocial game. While our new survey found that 82% of respondents rate their multichannel mocial integration as "somewhat" or "tightly integrated," their company's actual adoption and integration levels did not support that level of activity. 

Integration means more than just putting a "share on Facebook" link in your email. Integrating all the components of mocial marketing, including email, allows you to leverage the strengths of each one to build up the others.

Survey Says: High Interest but Low Implementation

Our survey of 500 companies in April 2011 found some surprising levels of mocial-related activity -- but also many places where marketers aren't integrating their mocial initiatives with their email. Here are some representative results:

1. Email list size is significantly larger than number of Facebook Likes and Twitter followers.

On average, companies had 70 email subscribers for every Facebook Like and 90 subscribers for every Twitter follower. The differences becomes starker when breaking down the ratios by list size, audience type and channel:

 

  • Email to Facebook, list size 100,000-under: 450:1
  • Email to Facebook, list size 1 million-up: 20:1

 

  • Email to Twitter, list size 100,000-under: 40:1
  • Email to Twitter, list size 1 million-up: 470:1

 

  • Email to Facebook, B2B: 88:1
  • Email to Facebook, B2C: 50:1

 

Even though companies have increased their exposure through these new channels, most companies are still more likely to reach a larger audience through email.

2. Cross-channel opt-in is lacking, such as email opt-ins on Facebook pages, links in communication preference centers or opt-in via SMS.

Nearly half of companies are on both Twitter (45%) and Facebook (44%), but comparatively few promote their social presence:

 

  • About one marketer in four promotes company or brand Twitter streams or Facebook Pages on their preference centers.

 

  • One in 10 companies features an email opt-in form on their Facebook pages, though another 38% plan to add one.

 

  • Only 4% offer opt-in via SMS and only another 13% plan to offer it.

 

This gap highlights a huge missed opportunity. Marketers need to make cross-channel promotion and options a higher priority to help retain subscribers, grow respective channels and appeal to channel-choosy customers.

It is generally acknowledged that customers who subscribe to or follow your company in multiple channels have a higher lifetime value than single-channel subscribers. 

3. Companies are investing in mobile applications, which represent an integration point with email. 

On the positive side, I was surprised that 33% of companies reported already offering a mobile app, 12% are planning to launch one this year, and 13% expect to have one ready to go in 2012. This leaves 37% of companies without a mobile app by the end of 2012. 

Will apps take over the digital world? Yes and no. According to research from Localytics, 26% of downloaded apps are used only one time.

However, gaining email opt-ins via other channels such as mobile apps enables marketers to promote the value of their apps to users who might forget about them when they get buried among dozens of other little-used apps.

4. Social network channels outpace location-based applications. 

Location-based marketing is the newest frontier in the digital universe, but only 2% of companies have implemented a local check-in campaign on services such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt or Facebook Deals/Places.  

Surprisingly to me, 74% reported that they have no plans to implement a local check-in campaign. My guess is that it is simply very early in the game, because most of these services have only a few million users each.

Until a large number of marketers have experienced a check-in campaign for themselves, we aren't likely to see significant adoption in this emerging channel. But marketers who experiment early will get a leg up on competitors and also gain an additional email opt-in touch point.  

Why Keep Email in the Mocial Loop?

At least two of mocial's three legs have gone mainstream among consumers within the last year. Smartphone sales passed PCs in late 2010, and Facebook now counts an estimated 600 million users worldwide, with half of those users logging into their account daily. Location-based marketing is moving up quickly, too.

However, email remains the preferred communication channel for the majority of adults. Checking email is the No. 1 activity on mobile phones. Your customers are communicating, researching and shopping in multiple channels. 

What are you doing today to take your email program up a notch to complete in a mocial world?

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