Each effort should include an element of the other.
By Joe Dysart
Specialty fabrics businesses trying to get a handle on social media as a promotional tool have found one easy solution: simply integrate the medium into existing email marketing programs.
For some, this fusion of social media and email marketing seems inevitable. For example, the study “View from the Social Inbox,” released earlier this year by Merkle, found that active social networkers are also likely to be avid email users. Ultimately, the study found that 42 percent of social networkers check their email four or more times a day, as compared to just 27 percent of those who don’t socialize online.
The easiest way to begin fusing your social media efforts with your email marketing is to ensure that each effort includes an element of the other. In practical terms, this means always embedding your company’s email address in any activity you engage in on Facebook, Twitter™ and similar sites. In turn, you should always find ways to use your email list to alert customers to your activities, special promotions, announcements or contests on social media.
As good as your tools
Besides doing simple cross promotions, you can also invest in some new tools to get even more mileage out of your email list. Case-in-point: StrongMail’s Social Studio™ service, for example, enables you to sift through your email list for people who are known in social media as top influencers—or people who have a lot of active friends online. You can then strike up relationships with these people to help you promote your business to their friends and extended social networks.
Essentially, you work the program by loading your email list into Social Studio, and then allowing the software to do a search on the Web, which matches the addresses on your list with any email addresses on the Web that are associated with heavy social media activity. Once you’ve identified customers who are top influencers in social media, you can reach out to them via email to offer them rewards and other offers in exchange for promoting your business to their friends.
A number of Web marketers, for example, have already used Social Studio to invite popular bloggers and other social media influencers to alert their Facebook friends about discounts and promotions at their companies.
“The real value of social media marketing is to move beyond merely listening, to start driving actual revenue,” says Paul Bates, U.K. managing director at StrongMail.
When using programs like Social Studio, you’ll need to tread lightly between being seen as reaching out to socially active customers rather than becoming a willing participant in privacy invasion. But once you’ve hit on a formula that works for you, you’ll probably find that numerous people on your email list can be potential marketing catalysts.
There are other programs similar to Social Studio that offer businesses virtual dashboards they can use to create, manage and monitor offers to top influencers across a number of digital mediums, including email, social, mobile and Web. For example:
- ExactTarget’s Interactive Marketing Hub™ includes a CoTweet® module, which enables businesses to manage their interactions with top influencers and others on multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts, and includes a number of analytics tools and reports. Another module within the package, Sites, enables you or your Web designer to create, design and deploy Web pages that are embedded with links to your presence on Facebook, Twitter and similar social networks.
- Responsys® Interact Suite has similar capabilities, focusing on software that meets the need for what system developers call “New School Marketing.” The Interact Suite gives marketers a set of integrated applications to design, define, execute, manage and refine marketing campaigns across all key digital interactive channels: email, mobile, social and Web.
As the fusion between social media and email marketing gels at your business, consider these tactics when combining the two:
- Optimize your email for social media. This is really step one in any synthesis campaign, and should be a part of every email marketing campaign. It’s as simple as adding links to your key social networks in your emails, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. There’s also a ShareThis button you can add to your email that instantly offers clickable access to dozens of social networking sites.
- Get the most from your testimonials. Customer accolades look good on a company website—but for some, they look even better on your Facebook page.
Solicit testimonials by emailing new customers shortly after a visit, and inviting them to submit a review. Initially, you can post glowing responses on your website, and then (with permission) on Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks as well. For even more mileage, ask your customer to repost the submitted testimonial to her own Twitter, Facebook and similar feeds, and offer a small reward or compensation as incentive.
- Embed social network testimonials in emails. Sometimes, spontaneous testimonials from your customers pop up on Facebook and Twitter without any prodding whatsoever. These promotional plugs can be easily cut and pasted into the next marketing email—along with a grateful nod and permission from the author, of course.
- Give people a reason to “like” you on Facebook. In just months, the “like” button on Facebook has become one of the most coveted clicks in the marketing world. When someone “likes” your business on Facebook, your product or service becomes quantifiably more important, and more desirable. Many Facebookers click the “like” button in the hopes they’ll get a freebie from the business. Don’t disappoint: Always offer, if at all possible, a coupon or some other tangible reward for the endorsement.
- Hold Twitter-or-Facebook-driven contests. The immediacy of social networks lends itself perfectly to time-sensitive contests. Hold an answer-the-question contest once a week, rewarding the first person with the right answer with a valuable prize or free service. Use email to stoke interest, and report on contest winners.
- Fish where the fish are. Running your email database through a program designed to find top influencers can also yield an interesting picture of where your customers hang out. For example, you may find that the greatest percentage of your customers frequent Twitter, rather than Facebook. Armed with these insights, you’ll be able to put your digital marketing dollars where they’ll reach the greatest percentage of your customers.