Archives for August 2008

Planes and boats and trains

I explored Lymm this Bank Holiday weekend on foot. Lymm is a small Cheshire village which was unaffected by modern communications until 1766 when the Bridgewater Canal was constructed and skirts Lymm north of the village centre.

Lymm, from the Frith Archive

Lymm, from the Frith Archive

The canal offered access to a ready market for local agricultural produce and developed the fustian trade where coarse woven cotton was sent from Manchester cotton mills along the canal to Lymm’s fustian cutters. The bolts of cloth were stretched along attic floors and loops on the material were cut by hand, producing a form of velvet.

Subsequently, the railway arrived in 1853 (now the Trans-Pennine Trail) and began Lymm’s change to a dormitory village. The Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894, skirting the village a mile to the North, and Lymm technically became a village by the sea! Salt extraction flourished for fity years from the beginning of the last century.

In the 1960s, the M6 and the M56 were built close to Lymm. Throughout it’s recent history, this small village has been profoundly shaped by communications through highways.

Bridgewater Canal in Lymm

Bridgewater Canal in Lymm

It made me think of our latest superhighways — the Internet, 3G mobile telephony, Bluetooth, WiFi, WiMAX — and how they are changing small hamlets. And how important content is.

The fustian trade couldn’t develop without quality cloth supplies. Conurbations needed fresh dairy produce. Lymm’s salt was of a particular purity.

So the packets of data on the Web’s superhighway need the quality of Lymm’s physical products to make them intelligible and emotionally appealing. And I am the dairyman, salt chemist and fustian cutter of this latest highway.

Email reinforces social network marketing

Given the popularity of the social network environment in B2B marketing, where the LinkedIn audience has more than doubled in the past year and even Facebook has become a de facto business network, B2B marketers are reconsidering the social network environment*.

What does this mean for email marketers? Does communication through social network channels make well-planned email marketing campaigns redundant?

Definitely not!

House lists still contain considerable marketing equity and, while social networks may play a part in attracting audiences, email is essentially a retention marketing channel. Once attraction through networking  is converted into a sales cycle, well-planned email messages help prospects through the sales pipeline.

Existing customers may well see brands in a new light through social networking effort but, ultimately, it will be quality email communication that will maximise retention.

*  According to eMarketer Reports

Confirming email lists

Should email lists be regularly confirmed?

I know organisations who are cautious about moving to a new ESP (email service provider)  because they suspect that they will be asked to run an initial opt-in process for their list and they worry about losing subscribers.

But is that such a bad thing? Most lists have a long tail of subscribers who haven’t responded for a while and it may be time to retire them gracefully. Perhaps you read your stats enthusiastically and you know the characteristics of a subscriber life cycle.

As subscribers approach ‘old age’, you should give them a chance to positively opt-in once more and, if they don’t respond, then another, final chance.

After that, they are probably dead wood anyway. Don’t keep on your list just to be macho about your list size. Quality, not quantity!

So run a regular confirmation programme: what you lose in numbers, you gain in quality and realism. And waste less time in conserving subscribers who are unlikely to ever respond.

Email marketing is about interpreting figures, not massaging them.