From where I sit your business has been monetizing a social channel for years. And, it has become clear to me that (Internet) history is about to repeat itself.
My colleagues will remember the following. And, for those of you who don’t, this is a case history and a reminder of how time flies in Internet time.
It was around 1994-1995 when the Internet didn’t even exist as a place for consumers to buy. In fact, “www” as a web address sent you, if you were lucky, to a brochure website, or nothing at all. The only place a merchant could sell their wares was either through Compuserve, Prodigy or the fledgling AOL. In fact, what made it even harder to do any online business at that time was that most consumers didn’t even have an email address. Think back: When did you get your first email address?
Unless, as a consumer, you had joined either Genie, Prodigy, Compuserve or the feisty upstart AOL you were shut out of the Internet world. My contemporaries will remember how AOL carpet-bombed the US population with install disks to join the AOL revolution. In fact, 2 million early adopters did in 94-95 and AOL was up and running. The rest is Internet history. At that time, it was a badge of honor to have one of AOL’s coveted email addresses. I still have mine. I am known in my personal online circles as firstname.lastname@example.org.
For AOL, it didn’t take long to reach 28 million+ members and as many unique email addresses by around 2000. That was just 5 short years. Remember the movie “You Got Mail” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan? It was this movie that catapulted AOL (and the Internet) out of geekdom and into the mainstream of American society and it also made the Internet cool. But did you know that the movie didn’t come out until 1998?
So what did catalogers do if there wasn’t an Internet to sell on in 1996-1998? They migrated their platform stores away from Prodigy to the AOL Marketplace and it is there where the leaders of today’s Internet commerce cut their e-commerce teeth. Companies like Hallmark.com, 1-800-Flowers.com, HannaAnderson.com, Paul Fredrick.com (where I was a Partner), EddieBauer.com, Barnesandnoble.com, Gateway.com, FragranceNet.com, Omahasteaks.com and more.
But the key point here is that not one of these merchants had captured a single email address from their consumers when they started their online business. But each of them chose to capture and amass email addresses. How did they do it? They asked their consumers to essentially “Like” them. They convinced their “Fans” to provide even more email addresses to them with Fan favorites and exclusive offers and discounts. They asked their Fans to socialize their email by asking them to forward their email, essentially sharing it with their friends and family.
From there merchants took the next steps and started to “Tweet Broadcast” to their valuable Internet consumers… yes you guessed it… email broadcasts of OFFERS/NEW MECHANDISE/EXCLUSIVE PRICES. What counted here was that this type of communication made their online customer feel special. It was SOCIAL. First in a text email format (because HTML was not the standard yet) and then into an HTML creative broadcast. Are you seeing a pattern yet? Are you seeing another Internet cycle emerge?
You can see the socialization of email. Then in light-speed a monetization of an email channel that for the last 15 years has led to incremental revenue for your business.
Hmmm…now do you recognize that you’ve been doing social for a long time? But in today’s Internet world what has changed is new platforms on which to play and these playing fields have some additional nuances. Looking back, did you spot a speeding difference too? It took Facebook just 5 years to reach several hundred million members and in the same time Twitter reached over 100 million. What does that say about early adoption and Internet time?
Now do you also see a parallel between “You Got Mail” and the movie “The Social Network”? “The Social Network” movie is now making social cool. It is allowing your consumer to bring Facebook into their normal lives. I am waiting for the Twitter movie. My working title: “144 Choices”.
Leaders of the “Internet-past” figured out how to make money with a website and email. But the answer lies mostly in the fact that the leaders in their companies had the how-to ideas. It wasn’t just about building a website or email. It was in the deployment of ideas that the business soared. It was also in the risk taking that supported the ideas that the growth of the online business soared.
What is your company’s appetite for risk taking?
Or are you hung up in process that prevents taking risks and gainging breakout rewards?
This is one of the reasons in my opinion why merchants have been so slow to apply their marketing efforts to Facebook and Twitter even when they know their email platform (their existing social platform) has worked so well. Bottom line: who in your business has the ideas to put the gas behind these platforms and grow them?
I built The ShoppeSimple Network not just to give you enterprise-level marketing tools to run your social business but to also provide you the ideas to move your social business forward. We want to help your business grow to greater heights, break through your company’s process hurdles and have fun building a new Social business like we did in the mid-90’s building out the web.
Being in this Social game for as long as I have, I know that few people will give you the ideas we can to move your business forward. This is exactly what makes working with ShoppeSimple unique and beneficial for your organization.
I won’t mention names but let’s take a closer look at the social playing fields of some recent prospective clients in discussions with us. See if you see the same social patterns I’m seeing.
- Merchant #1: Website unique monthly visitors 6.9 Million; email database 6 Million (growth is flat or down slightly); Facebook Likes 248,000; Twitter Followers 24,000; (No Facebook or Twitter Store. No social revenue to speak of.)
- Merchant #2: Website unique monthly visitors 1 Million; email database 4.0 Million (email database declining over the last two years), Facebook Likes 6.2 Million, Twitter Followers 8,211; Facebook Premium Store App (not happy with performance of the Store App) and no Twitter Store App. Isn’t looking to generate social revenue.
- Merchant #3: Website unique monthly visitors 200,000; email database 1.5 Million (email database has grown in the last year), Facebook Likes 25,000; Twitter Followers 0 (no Twitter page)); Facebook Premium Store App (not happy with performance of the Store App); Isn’t set up to generate social revenue.
Looking at the above data, do you see the pattern? Just imagine if you could capture and reach the same number of Likes and Followers as you have emails. What would your revenue look like for social when you monetize Likes, Followers as well as emails? The pattern is clear for each merchant above and since you now see it, when are you going to optimize and monetize your own social channels?
Don’t let the biggest social selling opportunity pass you by for Holiday 2011!
Did your business hesitate capturing emails in the mid-90’s when we had the last social revolution? There’s no reason to hesitate this time.
At The ShoppeSimple Network we have an integrated social tool set and the social ideas that will get your social program moving ahead. We help you turn your emails, Facebook and Twitter Stores into truly sustaining Social CRM opportunities, which your consumers will enjoy. As a result your customers buy more frequently, generate orders with higher average tickets, and share your offers or merchandise with their friends which leads to more new customers.
I would welcome the opportunity to share ideas with you on how we can help your business grow in time for the holidays. Take the first step. Just let me know what your schedule looks like in the next couple of weeks for a virtual meeting to get started.
PS. Please feel free to forward this email to a colleague or friend. Please feel free to share your comments with me at email@example.com.