I have the rare luxury of finding a seat on the Twickenham to Waterloo train early on a Sunny day in May. To take advantage of this incredible stroke of luck, (did everybody sleep in today?) I’m tinkering on my Dell laptop while two other brusque and slightly portly, important looking business men do the same. A quick survey of my surrounding commuters reveals 7 out of 10 are plugged in to mp3s or iPods, and out of the three remaining, two are chattering very loudly (perhaps causing the others to plug in) and another opposite me is sound asleep, or perhaps dead, I’m not sure. Considerately, I can’t hear the ugly hiss of someone’s tinny Britney album, as everyone has their headphones turned to a respectful level. Only one is reading the Metro, a stark difference to a couple of years back when everyone would bury their heads into the latest breaking news about Big Brother or some other daily digest of brain garbage.
This all got me thinking of how quickly trends come and go, which is topical to my visit to the iMedia Agency summit last week in Brighton. I enjoyed the conference and met some great people, but the prevalence of organisations, start-up or otherwise in the social media sector was particularly eye opening. Obviously it’s no surprise that social media is an engaging topic of discussion, but the number of sector representatives all jockeying for position as the next potential Facebook did seem reminiscent of some kind of bubble akin to the email sector’s early days.
The great news from an email suppliers point of view as there was only one other email supplier at the entire event, which based on the fact that email has become an integral part of any good marketing plan was fantastic but of course, I guess it depends on why this was the case. The truth is that even though email remains one of the most effective marketing channels, of the variety of blue sky businesses which launched into the space 10 years ago, few remain. This is certainly true in context of those suppliers who managed to get through the steep learning curve of delivering sustainable long term email strategies for brands, avoiding the gold rush at the cost of the consumer or brand and only for the benefit of their brow beating investors.
What remains in the marketplace is a group of companies orchestrating healthy competition centred around delivering quality products, services and value to win the commitment of well informed brands who don’t suffer hit and run tactics or the bad practices of those companies who have long since floundered. To this day this presents my biggest obstacle at eCircle; how to re-educate the masses that the bad practice email legacy they may have seen 5 years ago is not the norm and that you can create incredible customer value leading to sustainable profits relatively easily. It’s a rational response if you’ve had your fingers burnt, but with the evolution of common sense in email marketing it’s a ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ strategy. Rather like saying from now on everyday I’m going to get up at 4am, walk the 13 miles to work in all weathers, because when I used the train last I didn’t get a seat, people had their music on too loudly and the portly man next to me died.
Now where’s the common sense in that?