Problem Solver: “How can I integrate social media with my e-mail marketing program?”

The rise of social media is creating an exciting inbound marketing channel that serves as an excellent complement to outbound email marketing efforts.  Marketers who allocate the time and resources to integrate programs can realize synergies — driving incremental revenue while creating positive customer experiences. 

Here are five tips to help you integrate social media with your e-mail programs and ensure you’re getting the most out of them.

Make sure you have clearly defined strategies.  This may sound obvious, but many marketers skip step one and move right on to the tactics.  I usually work with clients to create distinct strategy statements for e-mail and social programs and refer back to them often.  If your e-mail or social strategies aren’t clearly articulated, make the time to think them through and write them up.

Listen to your community and use insights in e-mail.  If you do nothing else, you can still make meaningful improvements to your e-mail program by just listening to how people are engaging with your brand through social media.  Whether it’s a Google alert, Twitter search or a relationship with one of the myriad of social media monitoring companies out there, listening to how consumers are discussing your brand, and in what context, is key.  I believe that “listening” through social media can be as useful, if not more useful, than conducting focus groups.  Insights gleaned from social media can inform e-mail messaging and be tested optimized to quantify lift.  

Use e-mail to monetize social efforts.  In the social space it is often not appropriate for brands to engage in too many overtly promotional acts.  Social media is a great place to steward your brand and engage with your community, but e-mail is often a better place to test, optimize, and deploy promotional offers.  One tactic to try is including links to your e-mails (Web versions), in your social media messaging, (i.e.: tweet links to the hosted version of your newsletter).  An offer that may not sit well on Twitter itself, may perform well to your “followers” when in the context of your newsletter.       

Implement “Share to Social” in your e-mails.  Even if your ESP doesn’t have this functionality built into their toolset, you can use a variety of free, third-party, non-Javascript services to implement “share-to-social” and empower your email subscribers to syndicate your content throughout their social networks.  The viral nature of social media can spread a message far and wide, but only if the content you send is worthy of sharing.

Leverage e-mail to build your community (and vice versa).  When you are ready to launch a component of your social media strategy — a Facebook group or a new Twitter account, for example — there is often no better way to build the community than through outbound email marketing.  Invitations to join are places to start, but be sure that consumers are given the opportunity to join from across all customer touch points.  Try including links to your social initiatives in transactional message streams — this can be an especially effective tactic. 

I don’t know an e-mail marketer who isn’t excited by the developing social landscape.  By integrating with social media we can better serve our customers and develop more responsive programs, and, to me, that is exciting stuff. 

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