Brand loyalty and customer engagement are at an all-time low as more companies are vying for attention in an increasingly crowded and competitive landscape. This has only increased with the additional messaging customers are receiving from networks like Facebook and Twitter. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult to cut through the clutter and build meaningful conversations. In order to foster these relationships, marketers must stand out and present a memorable and unique customer experience. Consumers have come to expect brand interactions that offer value beyond monetary savings. They expect to be entertained, informed and heard.
With the power of e-mail marketing and the emergence of social media, companies now have the ability to communicate with customers in the mediums where they spend most of their time online. The conversation has changed and that conversation should be initiated with consumers in their channel of choice. According to Forrester Research, social media will see the fastest growth of any online media channel in the next four years. Within the same timeline, Forrester predicts that e-mail users will go from 145 million to 153 million. Although some have pontificated that e-mail will be replaced by social media, this is clearly not the case. Additional signs that point to this:
- 90% of US adults today continue to share information via e-mail
- Almost all social networking sites require an e-mail address for registration and updates are sent via e-mail
- Social networking is often restricted or banned in the workplace
- While still less expensive than most channels, ROI can be difficult to quantify with social media marketing
Clearly, e-mail and social media are closely connected. E-mail provides a channel that can drive recipients to social media networks instead of landing pages, and social networks can be used to acquire customers or reinforce a promotion being sent through e-mail. Here are a few tactics that combine e-mail and social media that enable you to drive acquisition and engagement across your audience:
- Present a united front. Whatever you are promoting in e-mail, promote through your social media presence. Conflicting promotions or disconnect in branding causes confusion.
- Promote e-mail subscriptions on social networks. Companies can use landing pages, sign-up forms, custom applications and other methods to effectively acquire e-mail addresses and ultimately extend your reach.
- Provide share-worthy content. Make sure that when you ask an e-mail recipient to share e-mail content that it offers value. Customers will only share if they feel friends and followers will benefit and reciprocate.
- Promote community. If you don’t show your customers that you are listening closely to them, you are wasting valuable time and money.
These efforts must support one another to be truly effective. While integration might take some thoughtful work, brands that ignore this need will be at a severe disadvantage.
George DiGuido is VP of e-mail marketing at Zeta Interactive.