There was an interesting article in the NY Times today about how two famous etiquette books (“How to Win Friends and Influence People” and “Emily Post’s Etiquette”) are going to be updated. The author was outraged by the changes that had been made to these books. His main qualm seemed to be the fact that the editors, in an effort to make the book more relevant to modern readers, edited some of the original content which he found endearing and important. However, I think that the fact that these publishers are noting that times have changed is very appropriate. What they should have done was written an entirely new book based on the principles of the original with more modern wording and ideas.
This made me think about how strange digital culture is. People have always interacted face to face, or at least were able to hear each other’s voices. Now, however, society relies almost entirely on text to communicate from text messages, to emails to Facebook statuses. Marketing is based off of communication (mainly between the company and the consumer) and so it makes sense to think about how marketers should alter their etiquette for modern times. I decided to provide some things that marketers should keep in mind when communicating on the internet.
1) Email Marketing Frequency- One of the most annoying things that a company can do is send generic email blasts too often. Similarly, when a company never sends any newsletters or corporate updates consumers can forget that they even exist. To put this in to etiquette terms think about how you would feel if someone you worked with sent you a card every day. This would be strange seeing as you have a professional relationship with them as opposed to a romantic or friendly relationship so getting a daily card from them would just be strange and annoying. Wouldn’t it be much better if they sent you a card for the holidays and maybe even on your birthday? This would show that they were thinking of you but it wouldn’t be too intrusive or irritating.
2) Capitalization/Punctuation- As I mentioned before, people are becoming more reliant on text for communication. This means that consumers cannot hear your tone of voice or see your expression when you are sending them a message. Therefore, if you use capitalization on your website or advertising it is very easy for this to be misconstrued. You may think that you are simply emphasizing a point but your target might interpret this as yelling. You don’t want your customer to think that you are yelling at them either on the internet or in person. It doesn’t make it likely that they will do business with you.
3) Use Colors in a Smart Way- This is more of a design concept than anything else but it is related to the “don’t yell at your customers” idea. Now, different people have different esthetics and this means that what one person finds attractive another person might find garish. That being said, some colors are not appropriate for certain messages since you are relying on non-verbal cues to get your message across. Just like you wouldn’t want to wear white to a wedding unless you were the bride (or otherwise informed), you don’t want the colors on your design or emails to be inappropriate. If you run a funeral home for example it would not be proper to have a bright yellow website design with bright green text (it would also be difficult to read). It is usually best to use the colors in your logo or that you have used on other promotional materials. Companies usually invest time and energy into creating a logo that represents them well so if you pull your color scheme from that you are usually safe.