Emails have completely replaced lovingly handwritten letters of a generation ago, while social media has done the same to postcards. Social is the de facto way people share photos, videos and latest updates about their lives with friends and family.
Since brands go where users are, we see hundreds of thousands of brands around the world on social media. And they’re justified in this social outreach. A connection built on social media comes backed with the power of social referrals – an impossible to ignore tool in a savvy marketer’s kit. After all, this is what the data says:
Does that mean, that playing your cards right and focusing all your bets on social media as the platform of the future is the way to go?
Well, not so fast.
Social media maybe the fastest growing platform there is today, but in terms of pure conversions, email is almost 4.5 times more effective than social media.
Putting two and two together, it quickly becomes clear that no marketer can afford to ignore either social media or email marketing as means of reaching out to consumers. Both have their own strengths that can be leveraged in ways that are not replaceable by any other medium. In fact, the smartest move in this situation would be to let these two extremely vital modes of communication talk to each other so they can combine their synergies to increase customer conversions.
Here’s a 12 step guide to an awesome marriage between social media and email marketing.
1. Maintain the same voice on email and social media
Your customer remains the same – whether you reach them on social media or via email – what they expect from your brand remains the same too. Create different pieces of content best suited for each platform, but don’t deviate from the script in terms of voice and brand personality. Because if you do, you will come across as a fake in your customers’ eyes.
2. Complementary content
Chances are, a large number of your email subscribers are already probably fans of your brand on various social networks. The next time you send out an email with a specific set of ideas, publish posts on social media related to these ideas by taking these ideas one step further. Your fans will be surprised by the way the two pieces of communication complement each other and will love the value add that you offered at no extra cost.
3. Triggered email on social media actions
With the advent of triggered email, you can now send out automated emails when a user completes a certain action on your site or even on your social networks. For instance, when a fan clicks a link posted with a product photo on your Facebook page, you can send them an automatic email with a discount code for that product, helping them take the next step towards purchase. Email tools like GetResponse now have auto-responder features that offer you the flexibility to configure triggers that make sense to your brand, schedule triggered messages, and template out what you want to say in each of them.
4. Social sharing buttons on emails
As we saw earlier, 55% of users share their purchases on social media with their friends and family. Even more importantly, 74% of users rely on social media to make purchases. Tap into this social side of commerce, by offering your users the chance to share with their social networks a great item or a great piece of advice that you sent them in your email.
Include a social sharing button alongside each item of your email, instead of one single share button at the bottom of the email. Most email service providers allow you to add social sharing buttons of your choice into your emails at zero extra effort.
5. Social connect buttons on emails
Social media users love the sense of community that comes from being part of a group that enjoys the same tastes. An email subscriber is already a part of a community – a group of users that all subscribe to emails from your brand. Allow these users to connect with each other and engage with your brand even more meaningfully by including social connect buttons on each email. Use the social equivalents of “Reply All” and “CC” at every opportunity; never mind that doing so with their email counterparts is a strict no-no.
6. Sign up option on social media
Your fans/followers on social media visit your page to know more about the brand or engage with it on a more intimate level. Talk to these people and ask them explicitly to sign up for a newsletter that will offer them every single piece of the content (or even content exclusively created for subscribers) you produce. They no longer have to sift through reams of your social media posts to find what they seek.
7. Email snippets on social media to entice subscriptions
Besides a direct pitch asking fans to subscribe to your newsletter mailing list, an alternate approach is to post some snippets from your emails on social media to generate curiosity. Use these snippets as bait to entice fans to subscribe to the full-fledged email campaigns. You can even automate this process by integrating your email service with your social media accounts.
8. Coupons/goodies via email for following on social media
Offer your email subscribers the chance to get a special freebie or a coupon for connecting with your brand on social media or for sharing a particular social media post. This is a quick and simple way to increase reach and effectiveness of your social media marketing.
Alternately, give out coupons via social media to fans who sign up for your newsletter.
9. Contests on social media with email components
Carry out contests on your social media platforms where the user has to submit their email ID for participation. Once captured, you can send emails to those who participated in the contest and ask them to sign up for regular newsletters.
10. Social connect buttons next to email subscription buttons on website
Every marketer worth his salt knows that email opt-in buttons are de rigueur on every website. To make the best of both worlds, include social connect buttons alongside your email subscription buttons. This gives the user the option of picking either one or both based on their communication preferences. Choice is always a good thing!
11. Use social media content to make email content richer
Positive social media interactions with users are priceless testimonials that add to your brand’s strength and trustworthiness.
Include snippets of conversations between your brand and your fans on social media inside your email newsletters to add a touch of authenticity to your brand speak and to offer a sneak peek to non-fans into what they’re missing out on by not connecting with you on social networks.
Social media gives you an insight into the lives, likes and dislikes of your users. Use this social data to tailor email content that suits their tastes. For example, if you find from your social insights tools that you have a segment of your users who are attending an upcoming industry event, send out emails to them with trivia about the event, exclusive tidbits that they might be unaware of, or how they can maximize the efficiency of their time spent at the event.
12. Import contacts from social media
Many email service providers allow you to make the most of your user lists on social media and email by combining the lists. You can now import contacts from your social media accounts into your email subscriber lists and reach out to these social followers via email as well.
Facebook’s Custom Audiences tool can be exploited to get more subscribers for your email list. Use CA to isolate your social fans that do not subscribe to your newsletter yet and send them specific messaging asking them to sign up for your newsletter to gain exclusive benefits. You can also go the other way around by importing your email subscriber list into Facebook and targeting them with ads to follow your brand on Facebook.
Social media and email marketing are powerful tools in their own unique ways. Combining the two to target a particular customer creates a multiplier effect, increasing the chances that the user sees the message and makes the message more effective than ever.
Opt for this synergistic approach and discover the wonders it can work for your brand. If you already use social media in conjunction with email marketing, share your experiences and insights with us!
About the Author Rohan: is a serial blogger and digital strategy consultant at E2M Solutions, a full service online marketing agency. He also helps startups develop remarkable user experiences at OnlyDesign.org. You should follow him at @searchrook on Twitter.