Images have the power to tell a story that words cannot begin to convey. ClickZ has begun a series examining consumer email behavior and in this installment, they look at utilizing images in your email marketing. They offer this analysis with statistics: Since most email clients turn images off by default, I'm often asked about the use of images in email messages. Because we live in such a visual world, where images and videos are seemingly everywhere, consumers are expecting to see images in your email creative. Moreover, with the popularity of reading email on mobile devices that are fully equipped to render HYML, the audience who requires text-only emails is shrinking. It's important to have a properly formatted email creative with a compelling template, as this will assist in driving audience engagement and potentially advocacy. Given that images are turned off, my firm set out to measure how many consumers actually turn them back on. We found that: Fifty-five percent of consumers stated that they turn on the images in the emails that they receive, which rivals the 57 percent of consumers that state they check their primary personal email account on their mobile devices. Far fewer consumers add sender addresses to their address book, which in most email clients will enable image rendering by default. Sixteen percent of consumers stated that they added an email marketer's email address to their address book. It's good to know that some people don't block the wonderful visuals you are trying to provide, but you should also be prepared for those that do. The article goes on to discuss some best practices for including images in your email marketing campaign further. This will ensure that the people you are trying to communicate with actually see what you are trying to convey.
In 2005, I helped found BlueJersey.com, a progressive political blog covering New Jersey politics. Frankly, my family supported me but didn't really understand what I was doing or why I was blogging. They thought I was giving away my writing and ideas for free. I always explained how I believed it would demonstrate my knowledge, help legitimize me and ultimately be beneficial. With the rise of Twitter and Facebook, I began to help publicize my writing to larger audiences and still my family questioned. They didn't doubt me, but still couldn't see the method to my madness. Slowly, they began to see the light as I began speaking about social media, appearing in and on traditional media because of my work with new media, was hired for jobs because of my new media knowledge and then was named by the Washington Post’s Chris Cilizza as one of the best NJ political tweeters. I had been a paid political operative for years, however it was writing for free by blogging that truly raised my profile to the point where I became the communications director for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. Along the same lines of my story, Jeff Bullas looked at how blogging can make you credible and offered this assessment: Blogging doesn’t make you an expert but just through the sheer committment, research involved and the passion required to write often and regularly, that the expert label perceived or real starts to shine through. It is said that to become an expert it takes 10,00o hours of practice to be at the top of your game, whether you be a musician or surgeon. Blogging gets you noticed and positions you as a thought leader and consequently as potential customers read your blog posts and observe your committment and passion they brand you as an expert. The next logical step is that they trust you and want to buy from you. I only wish I could have explained it that well when my family questioned. Blogging got me noticed and because I earned people's trust, I was considered credible. Trust is essential to communicating because lack of trust leads to immediate questions of credibility and accuracy. I utilized my blogging to gain this trust and credibility, making contacts with traditional media to improve the work I was able to do. I never claimed to be a reporter, in fact constantly credited reporters and talked about how I wouldn't be able to blog well without them. But I did manage to make myself a credible source of information about news and politics in New Jersey by simply composing my thoughts in the form of blog posts and then distributing them on social media platforms. Anybody can do it, you just have to take the time and make the investment.
The Harvard Business Review is out with a report called"The New Conversation: Taking Social Media From Talk To Action" that is worth a read talking about the growth of social media usage among companies: The exponential growth of social media, from blogs, Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and YouTube, offers organizations the chance to join a conversation with millions of customers around the globe every day. This promise is why nearly two-thirds of the 2,100 companies who participated in a recent survey by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services said they are either currently using social media channels or have social media plans in the works. But many still say social media is an experiment, as they try to understand how to best use the different channels, gauge their effectiveness, and integrate social media into their strategy. But when they say experimenting, it really sounds like feeling around blindly hoping to find something according to some of the results: Three-quarters (75%) of the companies in the survey said they did not know where their most valuable customers were talking about them. Nearly one-third (31%) do not measure effectiveness of social media. Less than one-quarter (23%) are using social media analytic tools. A fraction (7%) of participating companies are able to integrate social media into their marketing activities. These should all be huge red flags in any experiment as they represent numerous missed opportunities to capitalize on their efforts in the future. Follow me below the fold for more.Business themselves admit their efforts are still flawed: “It’s hard to define value when we are still trying to measure it. We will get it eventually, but right now we are stabbing in the dark for measurement criteria.” The difficulty in measuring is the frequent desire for instant results. Traditional marketing efforts have been built over time, but adopting new media doesn't lead to instant gains. It's the self described "effective users" that are beginning to get it: Within the survey, a small group of companies (12%) who identified themselves as “effective users” of social media shared some common practices. (Figure 8) They have moved beyond seeing social media as a “shiny object” or fad, and have started to see it as another part of their overall marketing strategy. While experimenting with their own social media offerings, they were more likely to be measuring their efforts as well as the social conversations about them. Like anything with business, you have to make the investment before you can realize a payoff. The only way to stop stabbing in the dark is the turn on the lights and bring in a guide. You wouldn't have someone that fixes the plumbing build the whole house, you would want them to focus on the plumbing because it's what they know. Until businesses come to this realization, they will continue to have difficulty trying to define success. The Business report review contains a good deal more information and like I said, is worth a read.
An interesting story in Forbestakes a look at the top 25 business schools and how they are embracing, or failing to embrace social media in their course offerings: According to ComScore, social media now reaches over 82% of the worlds online population. Nearly 1 out of every 5 minutes spent online is used to engage on Facebook, tweet on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn – along with other social media activities. Approximately 33% of US mobile users access social media on mobile devices. And a century of video is uploaded to YouTube every 10 days. Yet 36% of the top 25 business schools do not have a single social media or social business focused class. And most of the rest have only cursory coverage. Only one of those schools even had social media as a required course, the rest have it as an elective in their marketing programs. You can see a good INFOGRAPHIC on which schools are buying in:
Edison Research released their 2011 Social Habit study, looking at the usage of Facebook, Twitter, mobil social usage and location based services. Here are some highlights: Social Media now reaches the majority of Americans 12+, with 52% having a profile on one or more social networks. This figure is driven largely by Facebook, which is now used by over half (51%) of Americans 12+. Twitter is as familiar to Americans as Facebook (with 92% and 93% familiarity, respectively); however, Twitter usage stands at 8% of Americans 12+. Approximately 46 million Americans 12+ now check their social media sites and services several times every day. Much of this frequent usage is driven by mobile access. 56% of frequent social network users own smartphones, and 64% of frequent social networkers have used a mobile phone to update their status on one or more social networks. Location-based sites and services (such as Foursquare and Facebook Places) are familiar to 30% of Americans 12+, and used by 4% of Americans 12+. One in four social network users knowingly follow brands, products or services on social networks. For those who use these sites and services several times per day, this figure increases to 43%. You can see the full study below, but it's clear there is an audience using social media that your business or organization should be communicating with. The Social Habit 2011 by Edison Research View more presentations from webby2001