Email marketing has long been the staple of digital marketers and online entrepreneurs. It is a marketing channel that, despite the stigma placed on it by spamming, phishing and other undesirable marketing tactics, remains a tried-and-tested component of the marketing mix. Social media, on the other hand, is an emerging market channel whose potentials are yet to be assessed and realized. Up until now, most digital marketers treat these two areas as distinct and separate from each other.
But what if these two could be fused together? Can email marketing be undertaken within the social context, and thus be "turbocharged" to perform wonderful things? Email is part of the bigger picture of inbound marketing and content marketing where the content is the value marketers offer to the prospects and customers.
One of the critical factors email marketing practitioners need to watch out for is toeing the line between entertaining, informing or assisting audiences on the one hand versus explicitly selling products and services on the other. This is a tough balancing act that can spell the difference between failure and success in the marketplace.
Successful opt-in email messages and newsletters are those that attain this subtle equilibrium, and this is a concept that can be incredibly effective when applied to social media marketing. Ultimately, the most important component to bring social media and email seamlessly together is content.
A well-planned content strategy will allow you to blend the strengths of both areas into an effective marketing tool that can increase traffic and lead to improved conversion rates. Such a strategy is often anchored on your business blog, which ought to be regularly updated.
But if your business is not one that has any practical uses for the kinds of written content that populate blogs, the strategy will still work for other types of content as well -- product catalogs, video, competitions, question and answer forums and an otherwise wide variety of content sources.
Why is content so important?
Content will serve as the hub around which your digital marketing activities will revolve. Out of that will spring a series of actions and procedures defining your social media initiatives, resulting in a solid and consistent email marketing campaign. Here's a simple, six-step process you can use to build a marketing mechanism that fuses social media with email.
- Prepare your content according to your content strategy;
- Feed your RSS;
- Update your Facebook page;
- Update your LinkedIn page;
- Measure these initiatives and analyze audience responses;
- Select the most popular content and include these in a newsletter to be sent to your mailing lists.
- And of course, post it on your blog or company Website
An important item you must consider is to not automate this process entirely, despite the availability of tools that can actually do this for you. The whole point to being social is to interact with other people, and the content hub conveyor belt provides the perfect opportunity for you to do so.
So take the time and make the effort to ask questions and reach out to your audiences. This approach makes it easy for you to segment your markets. You know by now that not all targets respond to your marketing initiatives in the same way. You will receive a wide range of responses; on one side you will have people who do not respond at all, while on the other end of the engagement spectrum you will experience individuals who participate with a passion.
You need to identify the responses, categorize them and engage the people in each distinct segment differently. Fortunately email is versatile enough so that you can use it to reach out to specific market segments. The mechanism outlined above also provides abundant opportunities for you to build social sharing into the engagement strategies at each section of the process.
By now you have seen a lot of web pages, blog entries and newsletters where somewhere on the page there will be a row or two of social media buttons and links lined up like medals on a general's uniform. The purpose of placing them there is precisely to encourage people to share the content that has just engaged them.
However, this approach tends to have little impact because of this simple truth: incidental sharing fails to engage. Very few people, in fact ever use email to share content with their networks. But then again, social email marketing is more than simply getting people to share content with their contacts.
It really is all about delivering content that engages its target audiences. The key to accomplishing this lies in setting up a focused campaign that integrates a specific social network. For example, you can ask people who subscribe to your newsletter to like your Facebook page or retweet a Twitter post for the chance to win prizes, treats and freebies.
You can send an email to your mailing list that tells them about a contest you have on Pinterest, with a link that brings you right there. You can send them an email about a video you've uploaded on YouTube that contains a secret code that gives you discounts.
The possibilities are endless. However you approach this, keep in mind that social media lets you build and engage with your communities, and email lets you keep in touch with them. Together this can be an incredible marketing tool that will boost your online business.