June 14, 2010
It started so well.
England's World Cup campaign got underway on Saturday night with a performance that, but for a dreadful howler and poor finishing, would've probably been very satisfying.
However, putting to one side both the result and Robert Green's mistake, there were a number of plus points to take from the game. Emile Heskey put in a dominant display to (temporarily) answer his critics, Glen Johnson caused the USA numerous problems and Aaron Lennon scared the bejesus out of his marker every time he had the ball.
Then there was Steven Gerrard's impressive performance back in a more familiar central midfield role. As well as scoring, he was also the driving force behind much of England best passages of play. Surely he should be playing in his best position more often...?
For the best part of seven years, England fans, media and management have been discussing whether Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard can (and should) play together in the middle of the park. On Saturday, with Gareth Barry's injury forcing his hand, Fabio Capello once again tried out the much maligned partnership. While Gerrard played well, Lampard was largely subdued, meaning there remains question marks over how to get the best out of these two tremendous talents.
While England continues to struggle with those questions, accommodating and getting the best out of two excellent assets that some consider incompatible is a challenge that marketers have been managing for many years.
In our particular area of expertise, those two assets are Email Marketing and Social Media. Some believe it should be a choice between one, or the other, while others believe they're perfect partners. But who's right? Can they work together and lead to success? Should one be dropped for the other? Could one be used in a less significant role to allow the other to shine? This is all starting to sound very familiar.
There are now around 30 million Britons using email, sending more than a billion messages every single day, and almost half of them (46%) claim to be addicted to their inbox. Other findings indicate that marketers are now very much among the many email users, seeing its proficiency for boosting brand loyalty and creating direct sales - £14 billion a year, worldwide - as vital attributes.
Social media also carries impressive statistics, particularly in terms of usage. According to Facebook, around 174 million members use the site every 24 hours, while Twitter has gained headlines for its rapid growth and has 75 million registered users. There are other tools, of course, notably blogging and LinkedIn, and marketers are slowly discovering what can be achieved.
According a study by Michael Stelzner, sponsored by the Social Media Success Summit 2009, 88% of marketers are now using social media marketing, with 72% of them reporting that they had only been using it for a few months or less.
In terms of what it can achieve, 81% of marketers said it generated exposure for their business, while increasing traffic/subscribers/opt-in lists (61%) and new business partnerships (56%) were also identified as notable benefits social media can achieve.
As mentioned above, one of the most significant benefits marketers have found for social media marketing has been its ability to increase traffic, subscribers and opt-in lists. Social networking sites offers an opportunity to widen the exposure of your e-newsletter and attract new subscribers, as well as giving prospective customers more choice of how they want to receive your news and offers.
Combining the two also allows you to gain unique insights into email recipients, which if combined with a strong CRM strategy, could allow for greater targeting and better-received communications. Not only that, but social media could provide useful feedback on what works and what doesn't in your email.
Emails can also create discussions on social networking sites, providing further communication between your customers and your brand and enhancing the relationship between the two. Starting off with special offers, through sites like Twitter and Facebook, of high value and with a time limit, can also lead to increased interaction and buy-in from the people that are likely to buy your product.
However, to get the best out of both assets, it's important not to flood social media sites with your brand's presence. People are rightly weary of being sold to, so by taking a more considered approach, you can better align your communications and gradually improve brand loyalty and eventually sales.
Like with the Gerrard/Lampard conundrum, the email/social debate is all about the greater good - in this case, the ability to create stronger relationships between your customers and your brand, leading to more sales and long-term brand loyalty.
In England's case, it's about ending 44 years of hurt!
Posted by Rebecca McCormick
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