Throwing The Baby

Jacques Warren recently lamented in a tweet:

I have a client who does nothing with the 80,000 customer email addresses he has, but is ecstatic that he has 1,200 fans on his Facebook page.”

He’s not alone. The client that is. Jacques, on the other hand, may very well be in the minority for lamenting this situation.

Roll the clock back a few years, and the situation was no different than it is today. Back then email was touted as the savior to the problem of how to improve marketing effectiveness. Everything else was going to go away, and we’d be left with the most effective channel.

And so it is today, except you need to substitute social media for email. There’s a name for this condition: It’s called Throwing-The-Baby-Out-With-The-Bath-Water-itis.

In a recent blog post, David Raab accurately describes what marketing has gone through, from:

1) mass media, or broadcasting (1950 to 1985); 2) database marketing, or direct contact with segmented groups of customers (1985 to 1997); 3) search marketing, characterized by the use of search engines to drive traffic to Web sites (1998 to 2007); and 4) social marketing, the use of social media (2008 to ?).”

Although David mentions that the old media doesn’t go away, however, I think he’s doing a disservice by characterizing the four points as “stages” that marketing “progresses through.”

I’m trying hard to not blatantly disagree with David, or say that he’s wrong about anything he wrote.  It’s the vast number of other marketers who latch on to the latest and greatest, and proclaim the death of everything that came before their new shiny technology or approach. Which David is not doing.

But we clearly have not “progressed” through database marketing, if marketers can’t figure out that an email campaign (from a list of 80,000) that yields a 1% conversion rate and a profit per customer of $50 produces more money than a social media campaign to 1, 200 fans which yields a 30% conversion rate and a profit per customer of $100.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait while you do the math.

The critical questions, of course, are: How often can you go to the well? Can we build the social media base from 1,200 to 120,000 without negative impact on response/conversion rates and customer profitability? and How much of the marketing budget should be allocated to mass media/database marketing/search marketing/social media?

If I were CEO of a company, I’d hire a CMO who could answer those questions 10 times faster than I’d hire some CMO with a Twitter success story under his or her belt. And I bet Jacques Warren would agree with me.

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