Epsilon‘s Hayden Saunders posted an interesting piece about bringing email marketing in the social age on the Email Insitute blog a while ago. As you know a topic we have been covering since ages so we’re glad we can post it here for you.
Social media has created a huge buzz in recent years and many consider it the future of marketing. While there’s no doubt that its popularity has altered the media landscape, a report (Equation Research: 2009 Marketing Industry Trends Report) found that 37% of companies avoid social media because they don’t know enough about it.
While there’s enough potential for email marketers to curry favour among these detractors, specialist providers recognise the benefit of integrating email and social media, and are leveraging the opportunity to bridge customer understanding of social media platforms.
While other technologies have been busy cutting their teeth as viable marketing tools, email has evolved in a variety of ways and become one of the main weapons in a marketers arsenal. While many may see it as the antithesis of social networking platforms, thanks to great strides in digital integration this is simply not the case. Many may consider social media’s method of publically sharing information to be at odds with email’s private messaging, but the marrying of the two platforms is, from a commercial perspective, an opportunity to reach a larger pool of prospective customers in real time via a brand advocate, without being overly intrusive.
The crucial role of customer engagement in email and social media marketing
Customer engagement is of primary importance. Businesses need to consider each of their online collateral as social assets. This includes everything from company websites or blogs, Twitter feeds and Facebook fan pages; to subscription lists and sales platforms. The way to promote these assets is to ensure they’re integrated within emails.
Consider how email newsletters and customer bulletins regularly include social media ‘buttons’: direct links to the recipients feed or sender’s fan page. This can encourage users to share information with their own social media contacts, which helps marketers acquire additional prospects with similar interests. Within social networks, the more followers someone has, the better placed they are to operate as ‘influencers’ – to create brand awareness and loyalty.
Encouraging influencers to share information about a new incentive with their friends perpetuates the longevity and reach of a specific campaign or offer.
If social media is ‘pleasure’ then email is its proverbial ‘business’. Data collation remains a key marketing objective and while mechanisms like email subscription forms and preference centres have traditionally been seen as acceptable opt-in data tools, social media integration amplifies the reach of these methods.
Email and social: sharing, preferences, customer insights and viral marketing
By enabling subscribers to voluntarily log-in to their Facebook or Twitter accounts on an email subscription form, their personal information can be extracted automatically. With this information offered up, marketers gain greater insight into individual demographics and preferences. Social networking applications can also operate in a similar way through the inclusion of an email subscription box within the app itself. Access to social media profiles enables marketers to collate rich profile information allowing them to segment potential customers, and serve them personally relevant messages through email, social networks, the web and real time messaging.
The ability to share real time updates with a network of friends is another core benefit of social media. Imagine someone signs up to an email list to receive exclusive discounts from their favourite brand. The savvy marketer is able to generate a message announcing that user has renewed their subscription – which is instantly seen by the user’s connections across the social web. People trust their friends more than advertisers, so when your customers promote your brand in this way, the impact is powerful: improving your brand credibility to drive further email subscriptions, website traffic and conversions.
Considering that in 2009 almost double the amount time was spent on Facebook than on Google, and more time is spent accessing social networks via mobiles than via a PC (according to the Internet Advertising Bureau/ PricewaterhouseCooper’s 2009 Mobile Marketing Report, 41 minutes a day is spent on Facebook via mobiles and 31 minutes a day via PC) what’s certain is that across 2010 social networking will only grow in importance. By empowering consumers to share messaging through their choice of social network, marketers can access new customers and increase the likelihood of purchase by virtue of targeted viral campaigns. Email marketing’s halcyon days are far from over. Epsilon fully supports the integration of social media into email and as integration continues across all digital platforms, the more opportunity will come to fruition.