Change The Mindset, Not The Channel

Shiny-object syndrome has been a problem for email marketers almost since day one. We’re always looking for that new magic bullet to deliver the best ROI with the least effort. Unfortunately, that desire leads many of us chasing trends instead of formulating effective strategies.

Recent studies compiled by eMarketer demonstrate an apparent disconnect between what channels consumers are actually using and what channels marketers seem to be obsessed with.

For example, a Pitney Bowes Software study found that 57% of marketers reported using Twitter -- and yet only 31% of consumer respondents are actually on it. 51% of marketers said they use Google+ -- and yet only 21% of consumers are using it.

On the flipside, 53% of consumers are on YouTube, while only 41% of marketers have a presence there. Consumers also outnumber marketers on Facebook, 93% to 84%. So, why the seeming disconnect here?  When it comes YouTube it’s mainly a passive channel much like TV, so it’s more familiar to consumers – there’s a comfort level there.



As for Facebook, its strategists historically haven’t done the best job of communicating with marketers, demonstrating the value and making it easy for them to leverage the channel. In other words, most of us are still trying to understand Facebook and how to exploit it — and much like during our teen years, just when we have it figured out, the whole thing changes and we’re awkward  again.

For more perspective, here are stats from the August 2012 Pew Internet study of adult usage of social channels:

  • 12% of online adults say they use Pinterest
  • 12% of online adults say they use Instagram
  • 5% of online adults say they use Tumblr
  • 66% of online adults say they use Facebook
  • 20% of online adults say they use LinkedIn
  • 16% of online adults say they use Twitter

The one social channel we have on the Internet that just about everyone uses is email (85% according to an Ipsos world poll this year). The myth is that email marketing has become the consumer’s partner in a stale marriage, and jumping around other social channels will spice things up.

The fact is that it’s not the channel, but the marketing mindset behind it. Marketers did with email what generals have done in wars throughout history; stubbornly fighting each one with outdated tactics. As a result, the opportunity for email to be a new and improved connection between brands and consumers was all but lost.

I suppose this is human nature: Technology, whether mechanical or digital, moves quickly, and it takes most of us time to fit it into some kind of frame of reference we can understand -- and longer still to formulate effective ways to leverage it.

I’m certainly not the first person to state this, but if you’re not seeing the kind of ROI from your online marketing that you’d like to see, perhaps for your new year’s resolution, you might consider changing your mindset instead of the channel.

Sit down, look at what you’re doing and the results it’s getting. Have a conversation with your team about conversions, and convert that conversation into action using testing to optimize.

More important, put down the megaphone and start listening to your customers. React to what they’re saying and doing on your site and other social channels. Today you can’t tell people what to think. You have to ask them what they want.

The key to success in 2013 won’t be a new channel or social network, but a new way of thinking. It’ll be better use of the channels where your customers already want to interact with you, with email as the hub that ties them all together.



4 comments about "Change The Mindset, Not The Channel".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, January 9, 2013 at 8:04 a.m.

    It's an obvious point, but when you start listening to what people are "saying and doing on your site and other social channels", remember that those are your fans and critics. There is some overlap with your customers, but they are not the same.

  2. Jim Ducharme from eDataSource, January 9, 2013 at 8:34 a.m.

    Hi Peter,

    Fans can be customers and customers can be critics. Some of my best customers in my career have been my most uncompromising critics and some of my harshest critics (non-customers) have become my best customers. Everyone is potentially a customer or fan or critic depending on how you interact with them.

    That being said, yes, you have to keep all things in perspective.


  3. Chad White from Litmus, January 10, 2013 at 4:14 p.m.

    It's also important to remember that marketing isn't just a quantitative game; it's a qualitative one as well. Only 12% of adults using Pinterest may sound small to some marketers, but then you learn that Pinterest users have a high propensity to buy things they see on Pinterest. Suddenly that 12% looks much more attractive.

    So it's not just how many people are using a channel, but how receptive are they to marketing in that channel. Email scores well in both those regards, while Facebook struggles because its users aren't very receptive to marketing.

  4. Jim Ducharme from eDataSource, January 10, 2013 at 4:21 p.m.

    Great points Chad! Thanks for adding that insight!


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