6 reasons why you should integrate email and social media marketing more closely

Email specialists advise on email marketing whilst social media experts talk social networking, but often specialists miss opportunities for more effective integrated campaigns. Here are the 6 good...

Ahead of our webinar on Integrating Email and Social Media Marketing on October 28th, we’re looking at the reasons why these disciplines should be used together as part of an integrated marketing mix. Thanks to Dave Chaffey, CEO of marketing advice site SmartInsights.com, for this guest post.

It’s natural for email specialists to advise on email marketing whilst social media experts talk social networking, but often specialists miss opportunities for more effective integrated campaigns. Here are the 6 good reasons why I think email and social media can and should be used together more closely. I think they go a bit against the typical “social media is all about the conversations” generalisation.

1.  Both are effective for broadcast communications

Although we’re urged to engage in conversation through social media, the reality when you review social media communications by retail brands for example, is that the majority of Tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn updates by companies are promoting products, promotions or events and rightly so. Dan Zarrella, of Hubspot, “The Social Media Scientist” has said that he sees Twitter more as a broadcast medium.

Of course there has to be a balance with questions and interactions blended in, but the focus is on broadcast. Dan Zarrella has saidTwitter is a broadcast medium, with a discussion feature”, a nice way of putting it, I think.

I like to pack free actionable advice into every social update I post for Smart Insights, but I think we may have got the “Sell-Inform-Entertain” balance wrong. We recently asked an agency to look at improving our social media marketing and they have advised using a different social media engagement dashboard to batch up a series of messages more focused around lead generation using our free guides and templates and this more lead-generation approach is working well so far.

2.  Both can be thought of as direct response media

Following on from my first point, both email blasts and social media should be devised to maximise direct response. The scale of the communication and the period of response vary, but at a practical level the art of getting response through combining copywriting and creative is similar. We know through studies of Facebook that integrating images and videos tend to give better response than plain text updates. On Twitter a status update can be considered as an email subject line with a shortened URL! If we compare channels for response time using this data from bit.ly you can see there are big differences in response time. One reason why email marketing is still a key channel…


3.  Both work best when communications are relevant and targeted

Relevance, Relevance, Relevance! This should always be the mantra of online communications from search marketing to social media. Testing what works best to improve relevance is vital across digital marketing. Email marketers use AB testing to compare subject lines, social media marketers assess response to different types of updates and offers. Of course email marketing offers better options for targeting than social media generally, but there are less-often exploited options for targeting through social media such as Circles in Google+ or targeted advertising in Facebook.

4.  Both should encourage interaction

Direct mail was the forerunner of email marketing and didn’t lend itself to integration. On the other hand email shouldn’t just be about pushing offers, which is the way many use it. It should be used in a similar way to social media to encourage interaction and dialogue. An effective email newsletter for example, will often feature feedback through polls or surveys and will encourage readers to give their opinion through commenting on a blog or the most popular social media posts.

5.  Both work best when integrated

The chart above shows that social media have a short “half-life” that is most of the impact of a single update occurs within a few minutes. So repetition of key messages or offers is essential. Email gives an alternative way of reminding people about social media campaigns. Here is a simple example from USwitch courtesy of Tim Watson which is aimed at building social followers through email marketing:


Here’s another Eblast where Mothercare is encouraging engagement on Facebook:


6.  Both are effective for online brand-building

In this post I have talked about using email and social media to encourage direct response and sale, but in both media it’s important to get the balance right and avoid overload of offers. In my Total Email Marketing book I talk about getting the “Sell-Inform-Entertain” balance right in email communications and the same is true for social media – you see both companies overselling and underselling! Informing and entertaining through different types of content are key to keeping your audience engaged with your social channels. Today we call this “social content curation”, but the same has always been true for email marketing and an effective enewsletter is one has a range of topics to engage and is not just Pushing Product.

If you can find the sweet spot where you have creative and content that your audience really wants to share, then you will have that viral, amplification effect that is also common to email and social media.

I hope these six similarities between email and social media communications have prompted some ideas on how you can use them. To learn more about practical strategies for improving and integrating these channels see the free hub pages created on SmartInsights.com site for social media marketing strategies and email marketing strategies.

You can also register for a free webinar Our Social Times is hosting on October 28th featuring Kath Pay (Plan To Engage) and Dave Charest (Constant Contact). This 1-hour webinar will explore the tools and techniques businesses can use to create campaigns that run across email and social media. Click here for all the details.

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