How to Integrate Social Media with Email Marketing

social email marketingIt’s easy to polarise the debate around email and social media. Is email, with it’s interruptive and sometimes spammy ways, past it’s sell by date? Alternatively, is social media largely fluff and hot air, without measurable outcomes or ROI?

Evidently, neither is the truth, but it’s also easy to overlook that between these two extremes lies a potentially explosive integration in which companies can use social media to increase engagement with their email subscribers and use email to deliver sales and engagement from their social media fans/followers.

So how do you do it?

Well, I chaired an amazing panel called Email and Social Media: The New Rules of Engagement at Social Media Week London last week that made some useful suggestions and dispelled some myths:

Firstly, a myth, that “businesses are turning away from email towards social media marketing”. This is simply not true. A recent Constant Contact survey revealed that 95% of companies still use email marketing while 81% use social media marketing. Most people at the event used both. Similarly, there’s a myth that young people don’t use email, by some estimates 95% of “Millennials” (15-24 year olds) that Like brands on Facebook also subscribe to them via email. At any rate they must have an email address to register for any social network, so they’re certainly familiar with the medium.

Social media and email are not mutually exclusive. Virtually all the major email tool providers (including Constant Contact, who sponsored the discussion) offer Facebook apps that enable users to capture email addresses. Doing this as part of the users early engagement with your Facebook Page is a good idea, as suggested by Market Sentinel, who offer some compelling reasons not to outsource engagement to Facebook.

Similarly, inviting email subscribers to Like you on Facebook and follow you on Twitter is a must. As Katy Howell (MD of Immediate Future) explained during our discussion, it’s amazing how many large businesses haven’t done this.

Just as we’ve used data from email marketing (opens, clicks-thru, sign-ups etc.) to hone our email targeting, how someone subscribes to your list – e.g. via Twitter, Facebook or your blog – gives you an indication of how and what they might like to receive from you in future. Your Facebook email subscribers are primed to receive a special offer via email that they can activate on Facebook. As ever, the key to using this information is effective data segmentation.

Equally, you should start selecting trending content that’s been well read, liked or shared on Facebook or Twitter to inform your newsletter content. Leading with your most popular content is a no-brainer and should, if you include a prominent link back to the conversation, fuel engagement.

The final suggestion is to ensure your emails are cellphone friendly. There were 480.6 million users of mobile email in 2010 and his number will have quadrupled by 2015. Equally, mobile usage of social networks is growing by 30%+ year-on-year, so it makes sense to ensure that all your emails are mobile friends and include prominent links to Like, Follow, Share etc.

There’s a lot to be done, but this is a must-do exercise for any growing business. Statistics based on Constant Contact’s client-base of small businesses offer a glimpse of the bottom line: “from June 2010 through August 2011, those using both social media and email marketing saw 14.43 percent list growth, while those using only email marketing saw 8.96 percent list growth”.

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