As I have written previously, my current project with Emailvision is one that I am finding fascinating. As I work on applying my research and practice of storytelling to the world of branding, and to email marketing in particular, I am discovering new horizons.
Last Thursday, at the Omniture Summit in London, I moderated a breakout session on “Email, social and the art of storytelling”. Accompanying me on stage were two Emailvision clients—Jessica Stephens, Group eMarketing Manager at Filofax, and Simon Hills, Direct Marketing Manager at u-Switch.
Spending time with these two individuals made me realize, even more than before, that we are indeed entering a new era in marketing and branding. I was happy that my two panelists did not represent industries or products that are particularly “hot” or “sexy” (Jess and Simon, I know you will forgive me for saying this!). In fact, I wanted to work with this type of client in order to emphasize a few points:
- Passionate user communities exist everywhere, not only for trendy products and services
- Storytelling takes on a new importance in the age of social media
- For all types of companies, email can be an increasingly effective element of a marketing strategy
The two clients told some interesting stories about how the three elements—email, social and storytelling—can indeed work in harmony. (I will expand on this vast subject in the coming months.) When I asked them what they did to generate user stories, both of them replied that they are increasingly using devices to collect and share stories of client experience. Interestingly, both of them also commented: “the stories are already out there.”
Stories are so important and powerful because they are viral by definition. That is, people simply love to hear then and share them. This has been true since the beginning of time, and it remains true in today’s high-tech world.
Storytelling is the way we express our passion, not only about “glamorous” products and events, but also about the mundane dealings of everyday life, such as saving money with u-Switch or the way we might feel about our Filofax. For example, Simon Hills told a story of a user expressing passion and gratitude to u-Switch because the service saved him the money he needed to go on a short holiday with his family.
In 2010, it is becoming obvious that the world has truly gone ‘social’. In fact, it is likely that your customers are already talking about your brand—on blogs, on Facebook, and on Twitter. They are already out there sharing the stories of their experiences. So, as companies and marketers, we must look for intelligent and nonthreatening ways to engage in the existing user conversations.
Along with the relatively new buzz about social, both Jess and Simon emphasized the important role to be played by the relatively old tool, email. It is through email that we can best stimulate storytelling in the community, carry the stories to a wider audience, and measure their effectiveness.