Inbox Insider: Education is key to understanding social media marketing

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Brands are welcoming e-mail marketing firms' efforts to expand their services to include social media. However, it can also cause headaches for those who don't know how to use these bells and whistles properly.

I thought about this after a lengthy conversation with Eric Groves, SVP of global market development at Constant Contact.  

He told me that his firm has invested heavily in educating clients on how to use the tools it has added. “We don't just give you the tool and say ‘good luck,'” Groves said.

Clients, particularly small businesses, understand the great potential of social media, but they don't have a full grasp on where to begin to tap into it, he told me.

Constant Contact has about 20 regional development directors across North America who conduct free training on topics including Twitter best practices and e-mail newsletters. Globally, it has about 500 representatives for what it refers to as its “experts program.” The company also conducts an e-mail marketing live tour every business day, explaining updates and enhancements to its e-mail marketing products.

Other e-mail marketing firms are also offering educational services. For instance, StrongMail conducts webinars on social CRM, while eDialog provides education on integrating e-mail and social media through its annual client summit and regular webinars. ExactTarget, which has free tutorials and how-to guides on its website, has also created 3sixtyLive, a user group where members can convene to share ideas and solve problems.

It's nice that companies are offering these additional services, but clients' understanding of how to use them to drive business is the key. In this rapidly expanding environment, that's definitely easier said than done.

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