Adventures in Mobile Marketing

Web 2.0 and Email: A Case of Denial

From eROI‘s Dylan Boyd, this great writeup: Your Inbox Management Issues. A little background, Michael Arrington on TechCrunch wrote about a talk at FOWA, the Future of Web Apps (in Miami right after I was at EmailSummit), where a bunch of smart developers & founders in the Web 2.0 world- Kevin Rose of DIGG and Matt Mullenwag of WordPress, were a few I recognized, got down and dirty on building a quick new web app that would change their life.

So, what application did they decide to build in 40 minutes? An inbox reader. Their solution is that it would tell friends exactly how much you have and how much you’ve read. From Dylan:

So when you got a bunch of really smart people in a room and gave them 40 minutes to come up with a new life changing application, it was funny that they focused on inbox management.

The irony too, for me, is that FOWA and web 2.0 apps have actually increased my inbox problem. I’m constantly deleting Facebook emails. I took a snapshot of my eHarmony situation- 7 emails a day. So for these futurist developers to start screaming about inbox issues is funny to me- stop oversending! Think of contact frequency! Of course, these are the guys that developed twitter, my favorite whipping boy.

More irony is that when I talk to Web 2.0 developers and business people about email marketing, they literally cringe. If I say “permission marketing,” they have very little understanding. I’ll always remember one editor of a web site on indie pop saying, “but do people really buy from email?” and then a light went off and she said, “I love my MINI! I buy accessories from email all the time.” When I discussed transactional email messaging, they got more excited, and through the conversation, I realized that using the common corporate terms for marketing would not work.

So we see Web 2.0 companies flounder in the email marketing world because of a huge case of denial that what they do is email marketing, and by implementing certain standards- like optin process (for Facebook)- they could avoid common pitfalls. But wait, is Web2.0 actually doing email marketing?

The difference in my mind between Web 2.0 email processes and traditional email marketing:
- web 2.0 emails are not salesy
- completely functional
- live/real time
- text-only
- part of a multi-channel approach including RSS, SMS
- usually notifications
- part of a functional request to receive email, not a global preference – far more specific than usual email preference centers

Here are some samples from my inbox
- Someone is following you on Twitter (the stalker note)
- Someone wrote you a note on Facebook
- Summarized google alerts from the entire day (a stored search on keywords)
- Your turn on Scrabble (You can select this for each game)
- Someone commented on a blog you are following (note: also available via RSS)
- “nudge” requests on Facebook
- Moderated comments in WordPress

You’re saying: wait, Anna, these are not marketing messages but parts of an application. Are they? Aren’t some goals of CRM groups to create stickiness and reasons to return to the site? Aren’t those the same goals- adoption and use- of most Web 2.0 sites?

I think the relationship between traditional email marketers and Web 2.0 developers can grow- much like SEO and application developers. We’ve learned things, and we can contribute, and they are showing us a part of the inbox that is wide open: very customized, transactional, personalized emails that give the consumer a lot more control- the what, when, and how- of the information they receive.

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Written on Friday, 07. March 2008 at 13:27 In the category other_blogs, social networks, transactional emails. Follow the comments via RSS here: RSS-Feed. Share on FriendFeed

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  1. Great post, Anna. Which ironically I discovered while on Facebook. Would I have read this if you’d sent me an email via SF WOW? (Maybe you already did.) Probably not!

    The whole email thing is up for the grabs. In a recent round of ethnography with college kids re Shifting Communication, we learned more than 61% check their email dead last. (“Too slow”) First comes txt/ping/IM, then FB, then email.

    However, among those students with iPhones, email may be the comeback kid.

    Thanks for some great brain food.

    Comment: sarah browne – 10. March 2008 @ 11:48 am

  2. I really love Facebook- wondered if I should post this because it was bashing on 2.0, but since everyone’s a fan, 2.0 has a big head! I had heard some consumer reviews too that in age buckets, younger folks aren’t reading email. I think that was presented in the context of an email marketing seminar, where everyone was just excited that young people were *getting* and *reading* email- despite it being behind IM, social apps, etc.

    Comment: banane – 10. March 2008 @ 11:52 pm

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