Step Up To The Messaging Plate

Email marketing hasn't been this exciting since late 2003, when I kept my browser window pointed to the House of Representatives floor proceedings site, refreshing every 10 minutes to see if CAN-SPAM had passed yet.  (I learned quickly that Congress spends an inordinate amount of time renaming post offices, instead of voting on legislation that I am waiting for. But I digress.)

The big change this time around centers on mobile and social marketing. While these channels are both far broader than email in many respects, there is a component of each that is simply "messaging." That's where email marketers need to step up to the plate and take some ownership.

If you own email, you should own SMS.  Both are messaging opportunities that go to an inbox. Both require an opt-in so you can send offers to your customers and prospects.  With your experience managing the email channel, you have the best creds in your organization to set up and manage the mobile SMS channel as well.



As for social, chances are your PR group is handling your social media strategy. And when it comes to blogger outreach and getting celebrities to tweet for you, PR is probably the best place for social media to live.  But those PR folks don't "get" CRM or acquisition (or ROI) the way you do.  So make sure that when it comes to messaging through the social media channel, you have some ownership over what gets said.

The business case for owning all three messaging channels is straightforward: coordinating all three can create significant opportunity to increase overall ROI.  (See Blaine Matthew's article "Which Goes Better With Email: Social Or Mobile?" for an elegant summary of the tri-messaging approach). 

Supporting your case is more complex.  Since every organization is (relatively) new to both mobile and social media, you might find that an effective way to demonstrate ownership of digital messaging is to create the roadmap for how your organization will get the most value from these inboxes.  Here are five critical components of the roadmap:

1.     Best practices, illustrated. Demonstrate your knowledge of digital messaging by compiling the "best practices" or rules of the road for how to effectively market across all three channels. You'll need this to help educate your internal stakeholders anyway.

2.     Promotion criteria. You probably already have criteria for how and which products should be presented through your email channel. Take this out (or formalize it if you haven't already) and layer in the extra advice needed to cover the mobile and social messages.

3.     Governance documents. Again, these are something you probably have for the email channel already -- and if you don't, this is a good opportunity to formalize your governance rules. Think about cadence, list, and type of communication -- and outline clearly how to use each combination effectively.

4.     Process flow. Showing how the new SMS and social messaging channels fit well into your existing process and calendar may be your most effective tool for demonstrating how you should own all three inboxes.

5.     Partner recommendation. Knowing how to get things done is half the battle. If you can demonstrate that you know which partners/vendors to work with in order to get messages sent through all three channels, then you can get your company aligned around seeing you as the central hub for all digital messaging. 

This is just a start; there are other components you'll need for your roadmap. Your list will depend on the level of marketing sophistication and the political realities within your organization.

The changes we're seeing in our industry are truly exciting, and create significant opportunity for our companies. It's time to make sure messaging is done right - and let's face it, as experienced email marketers, we know how to do that very well.

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