The IM, SMS, email shootout

iStock_000003737885XSmall.jpgI came across this chart in today's eMarketer email and wanted to flag it for you to weigh in on. The chart looks at the preferred channel for receiving messages from marketers across various age groups. The channels they looked at are instant messenger (IM), text messaging (SMS) and email.

The chart (below) gives an interesting view of the choice of interaction. Note the IM numbers are actually shrinking as SMS is replacing that functionality especially as mobile devices improve. SMS is booming in the younger (high school) generation and holds strong through the 18-24 college group. The recent grad group drops off on SMS toward email and once you pass 35, nearly 80% goes toward email.

Here is the eMarketer data:


Email importance grows as age does while SMS importance grows as ages gets younger. Take a look at this in graph form to see the trends more clearly.


Basically, if you're looking for the preferred (read most effective) way to reach certain age population groups, make sure you keep this in mind. There are a lot of tools in the digital arsenal that need to be formed into one cohesive strategy.

It's also very important to recognize that the next generation of consumers are engaging in drastically different ways. We have got to have a good grasp on these platforms, what makes them effective, what makes them fail and grow our planning to include test cases NOW. Next quarter could be too late if your competition is already engaging. It's crucial to sustain future growth.

This goes toward explaining my post yesterday looking at the ROI from a digital marketing point of view and why email is still delivering results. Are you using SMS/IM in your marketing mix? We've seen studies about how people want to be communicated with in social media. How do you see them balancing?

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Don't forget the rest of the digital puzzle

iStock_000005066615XSmall.jpgWith all of the buzz around social media it's easy to overlook the rest of the digital marketing puzzle. Yes, it's fun to talk about Twitter and Facebook and the other new bright shiny objects, but they're just one component of a balanced online marketing strategy.

Take a look at the following chart from e-Marketer that shows how US adults prefer to have companies communicate with them. Note that email is still almost twice as requested as web sites.


That being said, social media has the opportunity to help drive business, create valuable content and serve as a landing point for various customer segments. Content is the foundation of any quality experience online, just ask anyone who's run a website.

Email - Social media (from Twitter to blogs) is centered around constant content updates. It's also a rule that very few people actually participate by commenting or adding content. Most people participate by reading and clicking (which is just as valuable in my opinion). Email is a perfect way, however, to summarize the best, most relevant conversations that are taking place.

Search - Search engines absolutely love social media content. It's categorized, updated frequently and is full of metadata. Results from blogs and other social media outlets are showing up in search result pages alongside corporate websites and official releases. The more relevant, popular, trusted sources will rise to the top...many times they'll be blogs.

Advertising - Sites like Facebook are full of user data that is being leveraged by marketers to create timely, relevant, targeted ads. Facebook made poor decisions early on with their Beacon program, but smart marketers are using the targeting to eliminate waste and only pay for the qualified clicks.

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With social media as one component of digital marketing mix, keep thinking about how it can integrate with other tactics. How can you use the content generated in emails, ads, mobile messaging, search targeting, etc.? How can you extend it offline into physical items for marketing. Look at examples like that allow you to create social artifacts that lead people back to your space online.

Social media is not an island,
it's a high-power engine on the larger marketing ship.

Social media isn't the end-all-be-all, but it offers marketers unparalleled opportunity to participate in relevant ways. It also provides a launchpad for other marketing tactics. Social media is not an island, it's a high-power engine on the larger marketing ship.

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Et tu? Why "fram" could be the downfall of social networks

iStock_000003853460XSmall.jpgWhat's worse than spam in your inbox?

Spam from your friends!

I've been getting so much of it that I've given it its own name, Fram (short for friend-spam). This differs from bacn, because your friends are generating the emails/updates/requests/invitations, not from a subscription.

Fram has really taken root with the rise in popularity of Facebook. Facebook's viral, social nature is perfect for spreading these messages, invites, applications and other bits like wildfire. So how does this work you ask. It's simple really and I don't think a lot of people even know they're doing it. On Facebook ( every time you do something, it tells people about it. You join a group, you can tell your friends. Add an application? Why not invite your friends to enjoy it with you? Each one of those interactions sends an email. That's where Fram becomes a problem.

Picture 8.pngAs your network grows, the level of Fram can become overwhelming. If you have 25 friends that's one thing. If you have 100+ it becomes a pain. If you are a super connector with 500+ I don't know how you deal with the flood.

Another problem with Facebook/MySpace/everybody-else is the way they message you. Each of these sites sends you an email telling you you have an update. It doesn't send you the update, mind you, it just tells you you have an update. So, not only do you have an extra email, you have to log in to the site and deal with it there too.

Many blame spam for the downfall of email. Could Fram lead to the downfall of social networks? It could, but that tipping point is likely to be years down the road. It is one more hurdle that will paralyze most people just like spam has done with email. (Will there be Fram filters in the future?)

Here are the top five ways to prevent Fram:

  1. If you join a cause or group, don't invite me. I'll see it in my friend timeline and join if I am interested. I add all of my groups/apps from there.
  2. If you install an application you think I have to have, don't invite me. If I already have it installed I'll find you. Again, I'll see your addition in the timeline.
  3. If you're a corporation/band/whatever with a Fan page on Facebook, limit your messages to few and far between.
  4. If you're a group administrator, limit the emails to only those that add value to the group.
  5. If you're either of the previous two groups, focus on the value proposition for your members/fans. How are you adding value? If you just have a group/page to have one, you're in the wrong space.

What tips would you add to this list? Are you overwhelmed yet?

[Update:] This is definitely a hot topic. Hat tip to Iain Tait @ for pointing out this cartoon by the brilliant Hugh MacLeod.

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Also, Mitch Joel posted the following two tweets on Twitter just a couple moments ago:
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To show you more of what I am talking about check out this quick diagram that shows what happens when I get a group/fan message on Facebook. Five individual messages are delivered to me in various ways.


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