Ah, the end of the year... time to ponder what lies ahead for the art and science of email marketing. Typically, the Email Diva provides answers, but this column is all about the big questions. As writer/astrologer Rob Brezsny advised in a recent column, "Certainty is a sham. What you desperately need are ripe, rounded, provocative questions."
The question I find so intriguing for 2008 is: Where will Web 2.0 take us? We are experiencing unprecedented opportunities for collaboration, self-expression and access. But what does it all mean? Where are we going?
As Cisco CEO John Chambers told Indiana University's graduating class this weekend, it's all about collaboration. We have moved from communicating one-to-one to a world of many-to-many, enabled by technology that we can access on any device, anywhere. (See Chambers' video, Transforming Business through Collaboration.)When it comes to new media, do you "get it" -- or dismiss it as primarily the domain of the young? Do you understand all the ways in which customers interact with your company and your brand, and work to facilitate those experiences?
Architect/philosopher Christopher Alexander tells us that collaboration is the social equivalent of wholeness. Do you play nicely with colleagues involved in traditional programs, as well as those managing sexier, more Web 2.0, efforts? Is your marketing program medium-agnostic, or do you try to shoehorn in your emails the solution to fit every need?
Back in the laughably low-tech sixties, Marshall McLuhan told us that mass media, which collapse space and time barriers in human communication, creates a "global village." (Thanks for the summary, Wikipedia.) Is your email global or national? Many companies avoid contact outside the U.S., intimidated by the resources required to manage within the complexity of laws and languages. By the time your email program branches out, will you have missed the boat with your non-English-speaking American customers? Have you considered how a charitable partnership might earn you a more honorable place in the global village?
And while McLuhan also tell us that the medium is more important than any content that the medium conveys, it's always a good idea to consider what it is you're sending into the ether. Because while we ponder the big questions, your customers still just want to know, "What's in it for me?"
Wishing you a collaborative, wise, whole 2008.
The Email Diva
Send your questions or submit your email for critique to Melinda Krueger, the Email Diva, at email@example.com. All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld.