– David Mitchel, Director of Marketing – Distribion, Inc.
During the recent LIMRA-LOMA Social Media Conference for Financial Services, one of the key points that keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk made was that marketers & salespeople ruin everything. “Ruin everything” is a subjective phrase, and was meant in terms of various marketing channels. Is he right?
There’s a view that in technology, a channel gets hot first, then marketers discover it as a means of product promotion. Following the discovery of the channel for marketing purposes, the channel immediately loses its cool factor. In the late 1990s, it was cool to have a website and there were an onslaught of advertisers using TV ads to mention their company’s website. Now, that tactic is less frequently used. Email marketing is evolving, which is normal, as it has been a long time component of the marketing communication mix. Vaynerchuk’s cited that email open rates have dropped in the last 24 months. 2012 Epsilon data indicated otherwise about open rates, but didn’t paint the rosiest picture for click through rates. There’s also data that indicates that email still is a better option than social media for getting the sale completed. Email marketing is most definitely not considered the cool kid on the block anymore, but that doesn’t mean it does not have a function within the marketing mix. Vaynerchuk also noted that Google Adwords has experienced a 15% decline in click throughs in 2013.
Almost every history class includes some variant of the line that history repeats itself. Could we see history repeat with some current marketing channels? I certainly believe so. While we might not necessarily know for certain how the social media landscape will change over time, we do know that it is going to change and that change will impact the advertising model. For instance, there was a time where YouTube did not have pre-roll video advertising. An Econsultancy article cited research that showed 94% of people skip pre-roll ads. At first, pre-roll skipping was not as high that as that number cited, which would be a repeat of history, as in the early days of the Internet, banner ads had way more impressive click statistics than they do today. Banner ads today only get clicked a small fraction of 1% of the time today, and many of those clicks are accidental. Back in 2005 and early 2006, MySpace looked invincible as the top dog in social media, but MySpace’s meteoric ascent was followed by a hard fall to eventually just becoming a small niche player in the space. Facebook may not have the share of market and share of attention in 5 years that it has today. There’s growing knowledge that Facebook is struggling with the 21 and under set, and that demographic is very influential in charting the course of growth for social media sites.
Right now, some of the hotter names in terms of social networks are Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, and Pheed. These individual sites are in various spots on the cool cycle. As distinct sites, they have their own distinct functions and audiences. More and more marketers are making their way to these sites. Over time, that will cause these sites to lose their cool factor, and new sites will form and will become the hot place to be in the digital space.
I believe that the arrival of the marketing and sales function to any medium permanently changes the dynamic of the medium. YouTube and Facebook were a different experience prior to marketers discovering them as a means of reaching people. Marketers and salespeople must be like hockey legend Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky was noted for saying that he would skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. In the same vein, marketers and salespeople must know where the attention is going to be in the future and figure out how to create messaging that will best resonate in those future channels while applying certain fundamental truths.