Last week the French email service provider (ESP) Emailvision invested in a brand new logo and a new sister: the social media tooling of ObjectiveMarketer. Was it a wise decision? And why should an ESP need to buy a Social Media company?
Social Media keeps email marketers and ESPs on their toes
If you pay close attention, you see it happening all over the place. Email service providers are taking over a part of the social media space. That’s not so strange, because email marketers have been warming up for a few years now. Some were very skeptical about the lifespan of social media and the possibilities of social media success a few years back, but in general, this isn’t the case anymore. Acceptance and use of social media platforms by the general public makes that email marketers need to know about these channels. They won’t say those channels are doomed anymore, at least not it in public.
Email was tagged as the “social media glue” and with cross-channel engagement the need for intertwining email with other channels is becoming more pertinent. Including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and what have you.
The first signs of social tooling at ESPs
The big bang that woke up most email marketers came in March 2010. ExactTarget bought the B2B social tool CoTweet and with that set the tone for ESP email + social tooling. Or maybe just before that, when Gartner bluntly predicted that social conversation will replace email for 20% of business users by 2014. But for instance Strongmail also wanted a piece of the social pie and bought two interactive agencies in July 2010, Conversa Marketing and Magnetic.
Many others ESPs also looked around for Social Media companies or bought them. Like Constant Contact buying into social CRM with Batham live. Of course these acquisitions don’t always come easy or fast, as we learned that the initial idea for the EmailVision (now SmartFocus) acquisition of ObjectiveMarketeer started almost a year earlier.
A match made in heaven?
Email marketing and social media (marketing) are very close to each other in the eyes of the consumer. As an email marketing consultant I am often asked to also coordinate some social media efforts or if I know any experts in that field. “You are also active on twitter, so you must know something about it.” All is forgiven, because these fields of expertise are close. With good deployment of social media efforts, your email campaigns can get a real boost and vice versa.
Social as an ESP lead generator
Actually, the path for businesses to the full use of digital communication channels has changed in many cases. Where in the old days it might have been first a website, then email marketing. Now the different social channels are somewhere in between or even come before a corporate website. Making a social media company a “lead generator” for ESPs that used to only focus on e-mail marketing.
What are the email service providers doing?
Email Service Providers have a couple of choices, in my opinion. With a big fork in the road for self-service versus full-service agency style ESPs. Many full service agencies often use in-house developed tools, but use a suppliers or a white labeled solution. So for them it isn’t logical to buy or develop a tooling. The options? Ignore, wait, integrate, develop in-house, collaborate or acquire. A big plus in acquirement is that current customers on the social path, might be converted into social + email customers bringing in extra revenue.
What do you think? Is it the way to go for ESPs and will we see more acquisitions? Will those investments pay out in the end?