Monday, June 22, 2009

Tri-Message Marketing: The Power of Three

By Drew Dahms

Lately, it seems brands and marketers have been focusing on social media and how it can be used. That’s fine. However it’s not a silver bullet, but rather one more tool in the marketing toolkit. Just like with traditional media, you cannot rely on one channel to get your message out. The market is fragmented, people are more mobile and “on the go” than ever before. You need to integrate many channels that can reach your audience at many times and many places.

Here are three channels I think can be a powerful tri-messaging strategy: Email, Social Media and Mobile. Each one serves a valuable purpose in communicating to your audience-in different ways.

EMAIL. The old standard for the past two decades. Companies have invested time and resources in building email lists and campaigns. Email is still effective and good for including a lot of content, links and images. If you’re using a good email program and have some design ability, you can create some nice looking layouts. But they take time to create and read rates have dropped to as low as 10%. Today’s society is out of the office more than ever before. Even though emails can be read on smartphones, the majority of people don’t own a smartphone. Plus emails (like HTML web pages) don’t display well on mobiles. Email and websites are a good foundation---a foundation to build upon.

SOCIAL MEDIA. The latest craze. Actually social media (SM) has been around a couple years, but is only now getting attention. It seems if you’re not on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or some other form of social media, you’re out of the loop or a dinosaur. It’s a great opportunity to integrate a social presence with traditional media efforts. However, a small percentage of your target audience may actually use these sites. Not everyone wants to tweet or be on Facebook. Think of all the people you’re NOT reaching. And now you are inviting comments and opinions to be posted that everyone can read. How do you manage that? Yeah it’s cool to have a few hundred or thousand followers, but how many are really customers of your brand or just a casual fan?

MOBILE. The new kid on the block and at the Early Adopter stage. Everyone has a cell phone. Text messages (SMS) can be received all mobile devices and read rates exceed 95%. (Did you ever get a text you didn’t read?) Mobile allows you to send relevant, timely and personalized content that invites engagement and generates real-time responses that can impact business in ways social media and email can’t. Brands are building valuable mobile databases by leveraging their SM followers and email subscribers to opt-in for mobile campaigns. Big brands are taking the lead with mobile campaigns, websites and m-commerce. But any small business can get started in mobile by launching simple SMS campaigns and building a list. Mobile is being recognized as a serious marketing channel that is here to stay and will only grow.

It’s incumbent on marketers and business owners to understand all the tools and how to integrate each channel into a tri-messaging strategy. And the real beauty is that these tools let small businesses and marketers compete with the big brands on a tech-savvy scale. Embrace these tools and develop a marketing strategy that utilizes the strengths of each. To dismiss one over the other because you’ve gotten along fine without it may be doing a disservice to your brand, your client and to yourself as a marketing professional.

Drew Dahms is a Relationship Manager with Sumotext who provides SMS campaign solutions for marketers and business owners. Sumotext is a CSCA approved short code provider and member of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA).

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