April 14, 2007

The Marketing Digital Divide

I am coming around to the idea that a "Marketing Digital Divide" is happening all around us.

I like to read the point of view of many different marketing folks. This morning, this article arrived via Google Reader, from Andrew Chen. Andrew didn't gain his experience in the catalog industry. His marketing skills were honed in Seattle and Silicon Valley, during the internet era.

His article is titled '10 Obvious Strategies To Ruthlessly Acquire Users". Here are the ten strategies that he outlines.
  1. Email/IM features for invites and content
  2. Blog/MySpace widgets
  3. Auto-invite for email, social networks, etc
  4. Auto-embed for blog widgets
  5. A/B tested signup pages
  6. Smart adwords buying
  7. Viral referrals
  8. SEO/landing page generation
  9. Push through RSS/Email, etc.
  10. Reduce user "drag" through the entire funnel
Do the phrases "Instant Messaging", "Widgets", "MySpace", "Social Networks", "Auto-Embed", "Blogs" or "RSS" appear anywhere on your list of customer acquisition strategies, if you're a Multichannel Cataloger or Retailer?

Remember, Andrew calls these "obvious" strategies. Imagine what his list of less-than-obvious strategies looks like.

How many of my loyal readers, direct marketers with decades of experience, view these strategies as "obvious"?

This is the essence of the "Marketing Digital Divide". A generation of marketers are honing skills in a realm most Multichannel Catalogers or Retailers cannot envision. It seems to me that the "MDD", as I'll call it, is accelerating. And if you don't practice any of the items Andrew outlines, it becomes harder and harder to see them, to understand what is being done.

This might be a great time for Millard, or Mokrynski, or MeritDirect, to reassign job responsibilities to small number of individuals. These individuals could focus on Andrew's list. These folks could test Andrew's proposed strategies with progressive Multichannel Catalogers and Retailers willing to experiment. These individuals could spend time with "Web 2.0" folks, if you will, folks who are practicing these activities --- and then transfer the knowledge back to progressive Multichannel Catalogers and Retailers.

The Marketing Digital Divide isn't too big to cross, yet. With postal reform bearing down on catalogers, with Google dominating the online advertising space with their acquisition of DoubleClick, it's a great time for our list industry to build out solid Web 2.0 divisions that help transfer skills across the Marketing Digital Divide (MDD) to Multichannel Catalogers and Retailers.

What are your thoughts? Does the Marketing Digital Divide (MDD) exist? Are catalogers and retailers falling behind?


  1. Anonymous7:08 AM

    Kevin, At first I thought this was an unfair comparison -- "acquiring users" versus "acquiring retail customers." But as I thought about it more, I realized it wasn't that unfair.

    I recently completed some consumer research on the impact of loyalty program membership on holiday retail shopping behavior. One of the findings: Consumers who are members of retailers' loyalty programs were more likely to be influenced by the online channel (including banner ads, email, and especially social networking sites) than other consumers.

    If multichannel retailers don't have Andrew's tactics on their list of strategies, it wouldn't surprise me. Many of them -- and it's not specific to the retail business -- have not moved past the "mass marketing mentality" of the past, despite the 1:1 proclamations of some consultants.

    Andrew is presenting a list of tools that enable a different way of marketing. Some firms -- and industries -- aren't moving very fast in adopting them.

  2. Hey Ron, when I first read Andrew's story, I had the same thought you had.

    Then I realized that I was the problem. I am biased by the set of tools that I have always used, and need to be more open-minded.

    And your research supports Andrew.

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