I don’t know what I used to do before Commentful (product of ours). The reality is that tracking conversations can be hard. There is so much information online that losing track is as easy as counting to 1-2-3.
So it boggles me when companies don’t use email to connect with their current/potential customers. Email is a fantastic tool – for those interested in your product, it lets them drop their email quickly and move on – they expect you to re-initiate the conversation with them. For those already your customer, it is a great way to re-establish your connect with them, and let them know what is up.
Case example: iBegin Source. Admittedly I failed at this recently – we had no way of letting people subscribe for updates (since fixed). Since day one we have been hard at working, tweaking the system, adding more data, etc. Superficially, it isn’t obvious to see – there is more accurate data, but it happens gradually. We started with ~11 million listings, and are upto ~12 million listings. That didn’t happen overnight – it happened gradually.
So – we had some stuff in the pipeline that we wanted to let people know about (you can see read about the upcoming updates to iBegin Source). At the same time, we require that you register before you can download (or purchase the data).
We sent out about a thousand emails. We got quite a few emails back. Most important – a few people let us know they were buying very soon. A few people even thanked me for emailing them, saying that they had forgotten about this and wanted to move ahead. That email address was essentially an invite – “come inside, lets talk.” But I had to take that first step – I had to open the door, come inside, and speak up.
Sending out that email was only positive. It let our current customers know what is going on. It reminded potential customers that we are still around (and getting stronger).
For all of the ‘shift’ towards IM/private messages/etc – email will get more attention than either of them. And not using all that you have at your disposable (especially something as easy as email) is a foolish mistake.