Integrate Email and Social Networking to Pack a Powerful One-Two Punch

When it comes to integrated marketing, email and social networking are complementary channels that you can easily pair up to deliver a knockout marketing punch for your business.

The reasons to do so now couldn’t be stronger:

Email is universal, and email use is on the rise among social media users (Nielsen)

Email is efficient, producing almost twice the revenue share relative to share of budget (Direct Marketing Association)

Social media is particularly effective at extending your email reach, improving the quality of your email communications and cultivating active advocates for your brand

If you want to boost your email marketing program or drive deeper engagement with your customers through their social networks, email–social integration is right for your business.

Email Wants to Be Social—Now It Can Be
If you deliver great content to your email subscribers, they’ll want to share it. Therefore, your job is to make sure that sharing your email content is easy to do. Historically, email has offered a social-sharing component to subscribers through forward-to-friends capabilities. But forward-to-friends hasn’t proved very successful in significantly extending reach nor in nurturing community engagement—and that’s where social networking can help.

Where forward-to-friends might extend the reach of your email message to 1 or 2 additional people per share, sharing-to-social networks can extend reach significantly: On average, your email will collect an additional 1% of views and realize an increase in reach of 24.3%, according to a new report from engagement-marketing provider Silverpop.

As for nurturing community engagement, forward-to-friends lacks an easy way for friends and colleagues to discuss your email content in a conversational manner. Because social networks are set up specifically to enable conversations, sharing-to-social provides email with that missing conversational component.

Fortunately, most email service providers now offer the capability to enable active social sharing in emails through direct-to-social sharing tools—so the mechanics are taken care of for you. Use the following 8 tips to help you take care of the rest of the details.

8 Tips for Integrating Email and Social Networking

Determine the social networks your email audience frequents and shares content on. Survey your subscribers or collect social information wherever your company interacts with customers to identify the primary social networks they use. A narrow focus works best—enable email sharing to at most 4 or 5 social networks.

Leverage your email subscribers to help build your social media communities. Invite subscribers—and their friends—to become a fan of your Facebook page, join your LinkedIn group or follow you on Twitter.

Become an active member of your targeted networks. Create a profile, provide status updates, ask and answer questions, provide links to great content other than your own—in other words, participate authentically in the communities your subscribers frequent.

Educate your email subscribers about the how and why of sharing. Make it easy for them to share your content and include calls-to-action to prompt them to share. Make sharing worth the effort—give good reasons to share your emails with their friends and make links and buttons to their favorite sites obvious to use.

Create compelling content that subscribers want to share on their social networks. Use social network search tools (e.g., Twitter Search) to identify hot topics. Use social networks to test the engagement level of potential email topics. Repurpose email content for status updates on social networking sites. Repurpose social media interactions for expanded treatment in emails.

Promote your email newsletter through social networking channels. Once you’ve decided on content, inform your networks and include a link to subscribe. Remind your networks the day before your email goes out, again making it easy for them to subscribe. After it mails, mention highlights in your social network status updates and let them know how to subscribe.

Make it easy for social network members who see your email content to become subscribers. Include links to sign-up pages with every shareable piece of content and ensure those pages are clear and very simple to use.

Test, analyze and refine. Test everything, analyze the data you collect and refine your emails, landing pages and social interactions based on that data. Continue to monitor the social networks your customers use and be ready to move on when they do. Recognize that successful email–social integration is dynamic and be ready to adapt your efforts to keep up with your audience and continue to reach new prospects.