None of what I am about to say is new, but here we are in the second decade of digital marketing, and we still collectively are not where we should be. It is incredible to me the amount of “marketing email” I get, even after the spam filter has cleaned out all the real bad junk. As a CxO, I know my name is out there, in lists being sold every day. I know this, because I get junk mail telling me I can buy the names of other CxO’s. But the amount of mis-directed email coming to me continues to grow.
Putting aside the annoyance factor, the shame of it is that some of this stuff is really good and could help my business. But, because most of it is mis-directed at me, all of it gets bundled into a folder that I rarely read and then I empty when my storage warnings become ominous. When I do look at these emails, I would assume 50% of it is complete junk, but the other 50% would be great if it landed in the right hands of someone in my organization. “Why didn’t this email go to Bob, he should see this….”. The challenge then is – do I really want to spam someone else with an idea that I have in one fleeting moment. If I don’t, well, that email is never going to be read by me again – goodbye. If I do, I run the risk that sending it to someone on my team will in some way imply my support, and a loyal team member will act on it with more fervor than I would have ever wanted. So, now I have to point out in the forward that “I don’t know these people….”, now it is becoming work for me, and the ROI of this email is now negative. So, I just delete the email.
What appears to have happened is that we have paved a cowpath from direct marketing to digital marketing. We took the junk we got from the post in the past, and now we shove it through the Internet, and at such a low cost, we shove even more out. The industry simply has not evolved. It has not gotten the message to start using commons sense and really use information about me to understand who the recipient should be and how the sender could best serve them. It is so frustrating when you are on the receiving end.
Now we have social media tools taking cursory looks at correlating content associated with your social media streams and making rash assumptions of what I might be interested in. Well, that is a little better, maybe, but I feel like we are on the precipice of repetition. Just as email repeated direct mail, social will repeat email. Can’t we find a better way? There is, but it requires work. You can’t do this by rote. Really understanding what customer’s needs are, and at what is the optimal point to interact with that potential customer is a lot of science, but it is also an art – understanding the human aspect of how people work – which is not yet stored in a single database that you can pull 10,000 names from. That work requires investment, and commitment. Unfortunately we are not there yet. Understanding the human aspect of how people work requires a much deeper thought process, one Unify is studying every day. The opportunity is there to differentiate yourself and create value. Once in a while you can get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right. You won’t find that place on an existing cowpath.