A New Marketing Model for IM: Page 2
A Simple Start: Building a List of IM Customers
Alias Name Registration: Register an IM alias name(s) on each of the public IM networks for your corporation, services or product. Ideally, secure the same alias name on each of the three principle public IM networks -- AOL, Yahoo and MSN.
List Building - New Data Fields & Revenue Sources: Enhance your registration fields to include the type of IM client, and the alias name information your customer is using. And if your firm is already using an enterprise IM application, encourage your customers to register that name on your system.
For customers who successfully complete a product registration on your site but do not register an IM name, provide opportunities for your customer to obtain an alias name from one of the public IM networks. I recommend exploring partner or affiliate relationships with one of the major public IM networks as an additional source of revenue for your business.
Expand Customer Permission: Add opt-in messaging within your registration process to capture IM data as well as communicate clearly to invited customers that you intend to send them instant messages. Please feel free to copy and paste this text for use on your site:
Please include me on your private list to receive e-mail updatesand instant messages -- IM's -- for product and servicerecommendations.
Reaching Mass Audiences: One Neighbor at a Time
The idea of targeting goods and services to people joined by common interests or demographic characteristics isn't new. In 1972, both direct marketing technology and your Sunday morning newspaper were forever changed by George Valassis when he invented freestanding inserts (FSIs) -- newspaper coupons -- which allowed advertisers to target newspaper readers by city and neighborhood. However, in recent years people have received more than enough "targeted" communications.
According to a Jupiter Media Metric report, by 2005 the average person is likely to view 3,000 ad exposures daily, with nearly 30% of these exposures from online sources. With so many voices trying to be heard, people have learned to ignore mass marketing messages, especially blatant commercial messages.
The lack of productivity from too many marketing messages flooding e-mail in-boxes, and social networks closed to businesses will require marketers to rethink mass marketing. The way to make mass marketing work again is to give individuals the power to be of service -- to become a neighbor -- as selling agents who testify to the value of your product or service. In fact, as ad clutter increases, I believe advertisers will seek out Neighboring -- a new marketing platform that is cost-effective, can sustain revenue and acquire new customers.
However, many businesses appear ready to exploit the unique economies of scale of IM as an inexpensive direct marketing channel. Major brands and IM name speculators have already moved quickly to secure alias names -- the identity individuals create on public IM networks -- in preparation for future marketing programs. If your new Internet business plan was to resell IM alias names, you're too late: BurgerKingBuddy is gone; CheeriosPal is taken; VWBuddy is registered; and GeicoBuddy, BacardiBuddy, and CitibankBuddy are gone too. Regardless, even if a mass marketer is able to temporarily penetrate a closed network by using an interesting alias name, attempts to broadcast traditional mass marketing messages will be ineffective when individuals have the power to permanently block future unwanted messages.
The use of alias names has spawned a new type of automated mass marketing agent, which provides search functionality within an IM window. Think of these bots - software applications serving so-called "smart" interactive agents that are programmed to deliver content to instant messenger windows -- as the "Ask Jeeves" of IM marketing. Bots, as well as spam-generated IM marketing messages, have already begun reaching millions of households and offices based on sending a single predetermined fictitious conversation. While this functionality is certainly clever, these keyword-triggered "conversations" are nothing of the sort.
Public IM networks have also begun providing advertising positions to support mass marketing activities, including customized "skins," or creative units, which are served as part of an application's presentation layer as well as simple banner ads.