The growth of social media is incredible, no doubt about it. A news story across the world breaks and within hours several thousand users have tweeted about it. An accomplished magazine editor reaches out to her college roommate from 15 years ago on Facebook in order to get a fresh angle on an old story. The global reach and sheer speed of social media can be explosive at times.
Brands, of course, are no stranger to this platform. New and veteran brands are emerging as major players in the social media community with each passing minute. However, it is important that brands remember the social elements of all their marketing channels, such as e-mail. With several years of experience under its belt, e-mail marketing has established itself as a trusted channel for brands' transactional communication and promotion offers. Yet, e-mail is also an excellent example of a seasoned marketing tool whose features marketers are still determining how to properly and effectively integrate into social media.
The truth is that e-mail is a social technology. When a friend or co-worker forwards you a "buy one, get one free appetizer" offer, you have received a message via a social contact. In other words, e-mail continues to be a primary way to share information. E-mail marketing, therefore, has great potential to augment the efforts of a recently launched social media campaign and vice versa.
Social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, have become an open ground for discussion about brands, products, trends and more. Their focus is geared toward building a community where users can interact and, in turn, provide a more personable perspective of a brand. If social media is where the conversation is occurring, then e-mail is the piece of takeaway information the individual user can refer back to and potentially share with a wider, networked audience. E-mail provides a touch point for the brand to follow up with additional information or customized promotion offers. After all, each campaign functions to bring consumers back to the brand. Marketers, therefore, need to provide the user with every opportunity to navigate seamlessly between the various channels.
Integrating a social and e-mail marketing campaign is still a new territory for many marketers. However, there are a few points to remember:
- Encourage an easy transition between the two mediums. Be sure to place a readily accessible link within both e-mail messages and social network pages.
- Openly explain the benefits of taking part in each program. Consumers want to know what benefit they will receive and how the programs are different.
- Know the audience and customize your message accordingly. Social fans and e-mail subscribers have different expectations of the platform they are participating in. Consider different tactics for different channels.
- Avoid duplicate offers. E-mail subscribers have provided their address assuming they will receive a specialized offer not found on a brand's Web site. Give the consumer a reason to participate in numerous channels.
Now is the time to test the waters. Marketing veterans from across all specialties are imploring brands to take advantage of the social media boom. Take a fresh look at your marketing approach and discover ways to integrate campaigns for maximum exposure.
[Contributed by Emily Van Winkle]