Email as Two Way Medium

So the line between evil spammers, and normal spammers seems grey to the ISPs, non-existent to the users, and bold to people looking for bulk commercial email.  Google is adding features to positively tag email from people in your contacts, including showing the picture.  One way to get in the Contacts list is to receive two responses.

It’s been 10+ years since people routinely used email responses, most automated emails say not to reply.  Perhaps this will bring back communications.  If companies are used to getting responses via Twitter, perhaps they can bring it back to the “ancient” email technology.

Share with Your Network vs Forward Buttons

I’m pretty active on Facebook, becoming more active on Twitter, and increasingly jaded on email.  At one point my email was so spam flooded that I didn’t have my Blackberry grab email, I just set my email server to forward email from about 20 trusted people I needed in real time to my Blackberry.  However, at that same time, I had my Facebook Application for Blackberry, my friends knew to Facebook me instead of email me for rapid response.

The Share on Facebook Bookmarklet sits on my bar, ready to share an interesting news story with my friends, so imagine my shock that retailers were four times more likely to include a forward to a friends link than a share with your network link.  Honestly, if I want to send something to a friend via email, I usually just email the URL, not wanting someone to capture my friend’s email from the link, but Sharing with a Social Network is a great way to reach dozens to hundreds of people.  I might email a link to my wife or a business partner, but posting to my Facebook profile hits over 400 people.

Relying on email over social networks is ignoring the trends in online communication.

Bringing Loyalty Programs to the Web

How useful is the constant tracking of people?  Loyalty programs do it in the store, but most companies don’t have it integrated online, a fact that is changing.  As I mention in my About page, I’m working with Third Solutions, a digital receipts company.  One of the advantages of digital receipts is that all your receipt information is in one place for monitoring recalls and returns, a single Membership Number is connected to participating retailers, reducing wallet clutter, without my communicating to a retailer what I buy elsewhere.

One of the advantages to marketers is that the aggregation of data in one place makes it possible to target your customers.  Nobody is interested in your personal information, which is why privacy policies exist and work, but if you buy an HP Printer, HP wants to sell you ink, and they want to sell you ink whether you buy that printer at Wal-mart, Best Buy, or Newegg.

List Building for Fun and Profit

Everyone knows they need a customer list, but most businesses do a horrible job of building them.  For years, we always built features into websites urging them to signup, working to integrate forum sign-ups with the rest of the website.  These days, Feed Burner, iContact, and Constant Contact make it easy to build a mailing list.  Feed Burner let’s you handle subscriptions from your RSS feed and automatically generate the contacts/feeds for your users while you build up a mailing list.  iContact and Constant Contact give you a web widget for your site, let you write your auto responder, and use their service as a mailing service for a small fee (nominal for small sites).

It’s fascinating to realize how much less technical skill is needed for someone interested in Internet Marketing in 2009 as was required even 3 or 4 years ago.  What makes this exciting is that Internet Marketing is moving from a technical field into a marketing field focused on CRM.  Your Direct Mail specialists didn’t have to be experts on printing, just how to source it, your brand marketers could build a branding campaign on television without knowing how to build a video camera.