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The PBJ of Marketing: E-Mail Marketing and Social Media

By: Carissa Newton
Last updated 11/9/2010

Some things are meant to go together. For example: peanut butter and jelly,cheese and wine, pen and paper, Elton John and Bernie Taupin. The same is true for e-mail marketing and social media networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

The viral nature of social media accelerates the sharing of marketing e-mails, making the two channels a perfect complement to each other. In fact, marketers who include social media links in an e-mail can increase their audience exposure by a factor of three to five times versus using only the traditional “Forward to Friend” feature that is provided by most Email Service Providers (ESPs), our data show

Marketers have a lot of options to consider when integrating e-mail-marketing campaigns with social media channels. With close to 200 social networking Websites, just keeping up with available networks can be a challenge. In addition, marketers are under increased pressure to deliver a return on every dollar spent.

There are five main steps to a successful integration of email-marketing campaigns with social media:

1. Understand that all marketing activities are related. Many organizations treat various marketing activities as if they are independent agents working in a vacuum. Advertising, collateral and digital, for example, are all managed separately. Adopting a view of marketing as a holistic puzzle fosters integration by aligning messages and producing a more efficient marketing organization. Marketers also need to develop a better understanding of user experiences and how people are engaging with traditional and digital media. When marketers break down silos they get a comprehensive view of marketing and greater insight into the available data.

2. Get to know your customer. Use a data-driven approach to get to know your customers better. Data-driven marketing is about listening to your customers and acting on those insights. This requires accurate data and strong analytics that define what your customers are thinking and doing. This information translates into effective marketing. Manage data across campaigns, channels, and customer life cycles by using a marketing automation or CRM solution. Finally, measure every marketing effort and have a feedback mechanism to identify trends and changes that should be made to marketing initiatives.

3. Make your brand consistent across all channels. Develop an integration strategy that is grounded in the brand. This way, every marketing initiative—including advertising, direct mail, digital, public relations, and Website—will intertwine. Make sure your brand experience is cohesive across all these channels, paying special attention to the Website. All your communications should have the same look and feel; otherwise, customers will be confused. For example, an e-mail-marketing campaign that links to a landing page should carry a similar design, font, and color scheme. Customers are still skittish about online purchases so give them every reason to trust your brand.

4. Create a web of references. This is where it gets fun and your hard work pays off. Develop campaigns that can be cross-promoted to create a Web of references that will energize your marketing program. For example, load e-mail-marketing campaigns with links to landing pages, blog content, contests, videos, and social media networks. Link social media posts to your Website, blog, videos, and photos. Include URLs in print campaigns and your Website address in every communication. Be redundant; it reinforces your brand. Put a sign-up link in e-mails that go out to current subscribers. Remember that people who learn about you through social media links need an easy way to connect with you.

Other ways to encourage social sharing include:
Offer a perk. Give customers a reason to connect with you by including a specific call to action. The call might be to access a study, download a white paper, enter a contest, and so onUse unique URLs for links or special landing pages to help you track the source of your new customers.

Make it worth their while to share. Offer a spiff for customers who share your links and get others to follow you on social networks or sign up for your e-mails. This spiff can be access to a study or a free Webinar. For those who consistently and widely share your content and e-mails, recognize them with a special program that gives them inside information or another perk.

Design your e-mails for easy sharing. Include both text and html content so those with images off can view the e-mail. Keep your call to action at the top of your e-mail to accommodate those viewing your e-mail on a mobile phone. Make your call to action simple and short. E-mails with just a few links perform the best.

5. Measure. Optimize. Measure. Review the success of your campaigns and use the results to optimize future campaigns. Look at results for each campaign to determine which lead sources drove the most revenue and then make strategy changes to create additional campaigns targeted to these leads. Review the investment you made in campaigns to determine which are worthwhile. Attempt to achieve a 15–20% gain over expenses. Look at the percentage of leads coming in to those that actually purchase to determine the value of the campaign. Don’t forget to look at the overall success of the campaign. If it didn’t bring in many leads, were the leads of high value? Once new members sign up, use measured marketing to evaluate each lead source as it moves through the sales pipeline so you can determine where to allocate future resources.

Finally, use the tools available from your ESP. Most ESPs today provide social sharing tracking as part of their reporting functions so you can easily determine if your integration strategy is working.

About the Author(s)

Carissa Newton is director of marketing for Delivra (www.delivra.com), an e-mail marketing software and services company. She can be reached at cnewton@delivra.com.