E-mail in a Web 2.0 world
As Web 2.0 technologies make the Internet increasingly compelling and targeted, marketers are challenged to find better ways to customize and personalize their e-mail campaigns in a similar fashion. As a result, many of you are seeking innovative technologies that will allow you to tailor e-mail messages in a way that will engage your customers and bring them back to your site again and again.
What you need is e-mail 2.0 for a Web 2.0 world. But does such a thing exist?
For those of you who have been under a rock for the past year or so, Web 2.0 refers to Web technologies that facilitate creativity, information sharing and collaboration. Think Web-based communities and hosted services such as social networks, blogs and wikis. Many of your online businesses are already offering Web 2.0 tools in order to enhance the customer experience.
As your customers become more accustomed to interacting via multi-faceted Web 2.0 ways, they're going to expect all their communications to follow suit. E-mail plays an important role in the process, driving the site visits and page views that make the business model behind Web 2.0 work. In fact, Web 2.0 has actually increased the volume of e-mail traffic you need to deliver, track and manage, while responding to your customers' heightened expectations about personalization, speed of response and appropriateness of content. If you haven't already determined a way to successfully align your e-mail marketing efforts with your company's Web 2.0 strategies, now is the perfect time to get up to speed.
By taking a holistic approach and aligning your e-mail campaigns with current social media trends, you can effectively engage in e-mail 2.0 practices. For example, activities such as regular e-mail communication with your customers via personalized newsletters or instant notification of new activity within relevant online communities can keep your users engaged, informed and active.
One example of a company that has successfully integrated e-mail 2.0 into its Web 2.0 strategy is Wetpaint. Wetpaint is the largest network of free wiki websites that allow anyone to create and contribute to sites that combine aspects of wikis, blogs, forums and social networks. Since its launch, the company has powered more than 1,00,000 user-created wikis on a wide variety of topics. From the start, Wetpaint recognized that e-mail would play a critical role in fostering collaboration and keeping users informed of the activity within their communities. Thus the company allows users to set preferences to be notified by e-mail when selected Wikis are updated, other users have sent them a message, or new Wikis are created on a related topic. These e-mail updates are essential for keeping the Wetpaint community informed of important activities that affect their online experience.
Similarly, eHarmony has also embraced e-mail as a critical tool for keeping its 17 million members engaged and informed. E-mail notifications and confirmations are sent out to users to alert them of newly found matches, any new messages in their online inbox, or a variety of other updates to help them get the most out of the eHarmony experience. E-mail serves the dual purpose of keeping users informed and also driving traffic back to eHarmony.com, which helps drive additional revenue from online advertisements.
No matter where you are in the e-mail 2.0 process, keep in mind that to be successful, you'll need a solution in place that allows you to customize, deliver, track and optimize both your marketing and transactional e-mail. Such a solution should offer tight integration with backend systems to enable continuous, member-generated e-mail communications, powerful personalization capabilities to keep users engaged, and the pricing model and scalability to accommodate rapid user growth.