Together, e-mail and social media lead to better communication

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E-mail has long been a mainstay of both consumer and enterprise marketing because it is cost-effective and because it has superior tracking capabilities compared to other marketing channels. With a solid e-mail marketing program including opt-in subscribers, good data hygiene and some basic personalization and segmentation, marketers could count on a steady stream of response — and possibly even revenue.

But that is changing. The marketing industry is undergoing a dramatic transformation from mass marketing to engagement with the individual. Consumers are no longer passive recipients of a marketers' message. Today, consumers rely less on information from companies and more on information they gather from peers. The rise of social media platforms like blogs, microblogs, forums, wikis, and social networks mean anyone can express their opinion about a product or service and also seek similar content from millions of other individuals who publish their preferences online.

Some marketers will say that social media is just a fad and stick with their tried-and-true tools like e-mail. Others will cast e-mail aside and embrace what's new. Both will wish that they had made another choice. Smart marketers are using social media marketing/monitoring and e-mail together to increase and improve the communication between marketer and audience.

With new social media monitoring tools, marketers can listen to their market - and even their individual customers - on a global scale in real time. Market research and engagement have become instantaneous. Marketing must be instantaneous, too. As soon as customers raise their hands through Twitter or a blog, or visit a Web site, they can be engaged. Learn to listen to and communicate with customers, across multiple online and offline channels, in a transparent, timely and consistent manner.

E-mail subscribers are your most important asset, and are usually ardent supporters. Messages must be relevant, targeted and valuable to them — if not, recipients will let you and everyone else know. Marketers must also continue to track response metrics to evaluate their campaign performance, but they can now go beyond just standard metrics to measure real-world impact.

In addition to the standard e-mail marketing metrics, marketers can use social media monitoring tools to hear what is being said about brands, products, and the company outside of their e-mail programs. The key is tying the information gleaned from social media conversations into a strategy that can be used to improve the e-mail marketing program and better understand the impact of company branding in the marketplace.

Ivan Chalif is director of product marketing at Alterian. Reach him at ivan@theproductologist.com.

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