How to bring together social media and e-mail marketing

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Social networks are becoming increasingly popular and individuals are able to influence the masses in a matter of minutes. To that end, marketers have been trying to leverage social media to reach their customers for years with limited success. Among the challenges is targeting and tracking the best customers with the most relevant message in the appropriate channel.

With the right technology, marketers can crack the code and leverage the power of social media, as well as track how viral their message becomes once posted on social sites. Not only can marketers track who is posting to social sites, but they can also track how many people are interacting with the message once it is live on sites like Facebook and MySpace.

Among the critical components of this new era of social media tracking are “connectors,” people who are quick to spread the message to their network. Once these individuals are identified, marketers can better target their messaging to “connectors,” and thus reach a wider audience through this brand advocate.

Savvy email marketers understand that campaign success extends well beyond traditional email metrics such as opens and clicks. Recent Epsilon studies such as the Email Branding Study and the Global Consumer Email Study show that e-mail marketing is driving offline activities that are not being measured by open and click rates. The same is true for social media. For both e-mail and social media, strategy and analysis should take these behaviors into account and evaluate what specific content is driving interactions and use this key metric as a measure of success.

Social media has been a successful vehicle for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies that often associate the internet with customer engagement and brand building as opposed to direct revenue stream. One recent Epsilon online promotion for a global CPG company generated a 25% post-to-click-through rate, with no direct incentive to the customer posting the content. Clearly, consumers are open to interaction with brands even if there is nothing in it for them.

Companies that rely heavily on branding to generate revenue are trying to create email content that drives customers to not only post, but to promote their product to their peers. This strategy is generating significant buzz around new products and is driving customer interaction by giving consumers a direct connection and voice about specific brands.

Forrester Research estimates 25% to 33% of online marketers already have launched online viral campaigns. One recent and highly successful example is Kimberly-Clark's use of viral marketing to pitch its Huggies Pull-Ups diaper brand. In February, Kimberly-Clark created a music video that instructed parents on how to make toilet training more enjoyable and posted it on their website They invited customers to post their own videos of their children, or themselves, doing the “Potty Dance.”

This unique and interactive marketing campaign led to more than 75 submissions. Over the next few months, the "Potty Dance" helped the site record over 660,000 unique visitors, up 60% from the same period last year. Clearly it was a huge success and generated brand awareness and excitement.

To take full advantage of the marketing opportunities that social media provides, marketers need to identify viral customers, promote products in an engaging and relevant way and track performance to enhance programs and measure success.

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