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Email Is Birthday Cards, Social Media Flyers...

Alright, the question is surfacing often now about how Social Media is to be correctly implemented into the online experience for auto retailing.

A recent WIRED magazine article titled, "Email is Crushing Twitter, Facebook for Selling Stuff Online" knocks this question dead into the dirt.  But, for the sake of the automotive internet marketing community here at Driving Sales, I decided to elaborate on the matter in this post.

Email

Email is a person's 'virtual address', more so than anything else.  The "E" stands for "electronic", meaning it is associated specifically with the electronic identification of an individual or entity.  Like their physical addresses, people tend to invite only the most intimate of guests by name (whether people or brands) into their homes online - their
virtual addresses. Typically, few strangers are invited into the home.  The home is a sanctuary for family and friends or for someone being introduced by one or the other.  In some form, shape, fashion or another, people in the home are familiar and intimate with one another. 

How would you feel if you got a birthday card from someone you didn't know?  If it came on the 3rd of July and your birthday is actually in January sometime, wouldn't almost freak you out?  Familiarity and intimacy are important when it comes to birthdays.  Think of what poor etiquette it is for a man to ask a woman her age or her birthday.  This is information volunteered at the discretion of the giver more times than it is the result of an anonymous query.  Email processing often works like a birthday card - deliberate sender to deliberate receiver.  It is a familiar and intimate delivery.

Social Media

Social Media websites, on the other hand, are not very home-like.  They represent the myriad different places a person might go online once they leave their 'virtual address'.  Physical addresses are the basis for decisions McDonald's and Walmart make to build a parcel near or surrounding a particular community.  They are why a consumer stops to grab a value meal or a few household staples on his/her way home from work a few days out of each week.  The proximity of the physical address is what makes the selling proposition of the big box appeal to the consumer.  Kids are 100% less likely to look for a happy meal online than on their ride home from school.  Virtual addresses for the likes of brands strong as The Golden Arches are simply not as effective as physical ones.

Social Media is not as effective as email for many reasons.  First and foremost, the age of Social Media was spawned by electronic mail.  Almost all social media websites are linked in one way or another to electronic mail.  Since this is the case, the second reason for lack of effectiveness as compared to email addresses is almost infinitive.  It's like sending out birthday cards to strangers - not so deliberate sender to anonymous
receiver.  McDonald's has no idea about which impulse causes an anonymous person online to go through the steps necessary to end up in their franchises - either in the store, or in the drive thu.  Walmart just cannot offer the online customer the same convenience as the lady or gentleman in need of household staples on her or his way home from work.  Online, when it comes to capturing customers, Social Media is like passing out flyers.  The conversion ratios for social media, according to the WIRED Magazine article are 23% less than average in value as compared to the mean.

The Point

Being that most people are at home more than at any place else, the place where they take up residence is the best place to reach them (i.e.USPS or snail mail).  So, in a world of physical addresses, the brands targeting consumers based upon addresses and proximity to their outlets are doing it right.  In a virtual world, Google is the new USPS in that they own the most virtual addresses. People, brands, businesses, organizations all have formulated some dependence on Google being a delivery source to their virtual addresses. Information online tends to begin at Google and end at the Inbox.  And, by no stetch of the imagination is the fact standing that beyond search, the most successful aspect of the Google platform is their electronic mail.  Over 71% of Facebook accounts link to Gmail.  Almost 90% of Twitter accounts link to Gmail, too.  It really is quite simple.

Email is crushing social media because it simply is superior in value.

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