How to use social media to grow your e-mail list

As marketers scurry to come up with a social media strategy, many are looking to the integration of social media and e-mail as a critical component. According to a recent collaborative study by ExactTarget, the Email Marketer’s Club and the Center for Media Design at Ball State University, only 13% of marketers integrated social media and email last year. 46% plan to do so in 2009.

Companies that have done this successfully have gone beyond simply inserting links to share information on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. While building a fan base across social networks can help build the brand, marketers we interviewed said they had the most success when they could communicate through both social networks and e-mail. Social networks provide a platform for customer service and collaboration with fans, while traditional marketing messages aimed at getting customers to transact perform better when delivered through e-mail.

While e-mail is a one-to-one channel, social is a many-to-many channel. Strong integrations recognize the inherent strengths of each channel and bridge the inherent gap.

Papa John’s does an excellent job of bridging this gap. It launched a social media campaign through e-mail, with a link that allowed people to post their offer to Facebook. Once in Facebook, the message spread and within 24 hours the company had 130,000 new Facebook fans. The hook? “Free Pizza!” To take advantage of the offer, fans had to create a profile on in order to have their personalized promotion code delivered through e-mail. By using a triggered e-mail to deliver the code, Papa John’s was able to collect e-mail addresses and permission for ongoing e-mail communications from 75% of their new Facebook fans.

Marketers who report success driving new e-mail subscriptions all shared similar approaches. The first key to success is developing content or offers that are relevant and engaging to the Social Network audience. There is no simple tactic for doing this. Each company must determine their own strategy for aligning their value proposition with targeted social networks. And while Papa John’s hit the jackpot with their offer, offers can easily turn social network audiences away. TripAdvisor took a different approach by developing “Cities I’ve Visited,” an application that allows users to show off their love for travel through an interactive map that pinpoints all of the places the user has traveled in the past and where they would like to go in the future.

Once the audience is engaged in the social network, marketers need to close the loop by bringing fans back to their site and drawing those fans into an ongoing one-to-one relationship directly with the brand. Giving fans a reason to register creates an engaged multichannel subscriber who can interact with you on the social network, and who you can deliver personal marketing communications through e-mail.

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