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Old Advice - Beware of Things That Go Buzz


Things that buzz are often dangerous and can result in a nasty sting. There’s been a lot of buzz around social network marketing in recent months; so much so that some famous names have floated themselves on the stock markets. Their value as advertising platforms has been based, apparently, on their number of users; what short memories we have. The "dotcom" bubble of the early millennium valued online businesses on their numbers of visitors; that went well. Many marketing professionals are still uncertain of the real value of social network marketing and yet email marketing is also languishing. So how should you tread (apart from carefully) amidst all this hype, buzz and chatter?

Social Networks - The Clue in the Name

There is a clue in the name with Social Networks – and it’s not the network bit. These places are social, most people use them to hang out with friends (some they’ve even met for real). There’s a lot of chit-chat goes, some social campaigning, plenty of abuse; it’s a bit like a school-yard. Unfortunately selling in this environment is not like stealing candy from a group of kids. Oddly, in the real world most people don’t take kindly to being interrupted over a latte with friends by a rabid salesman or woman. In fact, simply accosting people in public venues and interrupting them has never caught on in the real world as a marketing technique. Strange but true, it’s one of those great and frustrating mysteries of marketing.

Exhausting Approaches with Little Benefit

Of course, social network marketing has realised this, gradually, and efforts are now more subtle. Effort is the key word in that phrase; a lot of it. A lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of patience. The trick is to get to know people, engage, and become friends. At some point they’ll hopefully want to know what you do; you can then draw them away from that noisy conversation to your blog/website where you can engage them with all that lovingly prepared, expensive content. At some point, perhaps, they’ll decide to sign up to your email list. Sounding like a long, exhausting, expensive road to a sale? Yes, it probably is.

Quality Lists and Old Tricks

So if all that legwork on the social networking sites is sounding rather like it’s high investment/low return in terms of generating even sign ups to your email list, what alternatives are there? Simple, old-fashioned purchase of quality lists is one route. The investment may seem higher in financial terms but, once you’ve worked out the cost of the torturous process, above it may seem more attractive. Advertising, print, TV and radio can also drive traffic to your email lists; it’s tried, tested and expensive but it works.

Email Marketing Mistakes

Even using traditional techniques (or social networks) to gain email sign ups is fraught with difficulties. Once on the list how long will they stay? Will they convert? Will they even open your emails? The problems here seem to be with the approaches to marketing emails that many companies have taken. Using professional email marketing firms like SocketLabs.com to manage your campaigns can be one way to avoid this but if you're going it alone here are the worst mistakes you can make.

Not on the First Date, Please

Email is a personal form of communication, unlike social networking it’s one on one. Emails written in corporate speak are generally consigned to the trash within seconds. However, over-familiarity can also be deadly. Most potential clients don’t want to be on first name terms with you on the first date, but at the same time, won’t read boring copy. They want light, friendly, engaging, entertaining or informative copy. Finding the middle ground on this is essential.

Clarify Your Communications

Flashy emails with too many gimmicks are a complete turn off. Users want clear concise and easily swallowed communication. Bullet lists, or lists based on their previous purchases are ideal. These create a personalised, friendly approach, without being too over-familiar.

Look, You Can Opt Right Now

What’s so terrible about the opt out link? Many email marketers are terrified of it, yet users love it. In addition if they’re going to use it they will; worse still, if they can’t find it they’ll mark you as spam, which is never good. Placing the opt out link at the start of the email presents you as friendly, helpful, polite and with the keenest of desires to cause them no trouble. All of these build trust and create an image of honesty and openness. There’s a lot of distrust on the internet – especially from consumers – so dealing with that upfront can really make a difference.

Ben Grant freelance writer, author and marketing professional argues that 'traditional' email marketing can still work, even in the age of social networking. 


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