The  world of social media has led to significant hype about the possibilities this  emerging channel offers  marketers.  And there is certainly a lot about social media that should get the experienced, informed and enabled marketer salivating. 

Social media is not, however, the first new channel marketers have had to adopt in recent years. We don’t hear much about how practitioners of social marketing can learn from their colleagues operating in other marketing channels, specifically email, which has evolved considerably in the last few years as well.

Here are the top three lessons I think social media marketers can learn from the way email marketing has progressed:

1) Analytics power optimization

Email marketers spend a lot of time looking at data. Increasing open rates, click through rates and ultimately conversions require a detailed examination of the analytics generated from previous campaigns. The average email marketer at a large brand is well versed in how to use data to drive the optimization of future campaigns.

Social media marketers have arguably a more complex job in terms of learning from analytics to optimize campaign performance. There is not just the brand to consumer campaign relationship, such as views and interactions, to study but also social graph activities like conversions driven through the viral mechanics of segments of fans, and much more.

There is a lot of data to access and social marketers need to get better at being analysts if they are to improve brand results and secure additional funds for social investments.

2) Profile fans over the long-term

Perhaps the key learning for social marketers is how others specializing in email have learned: it is essential to track how individuals interact with campaigns over time. This profiling allows marketers to perform segmentation, which leads to better campaign performance.

Social marketers need to do the same.

Profiling fans over time allows marketers to build a picture of who their fans are, as well as how they interact with the brands, campaigns and content. Perhaps more importantly, marketers can track how fans are influencing their friends, which can lead to building a picture of real world advocates, rather than having to rely on theoretical influence measurements such as Klout scores.

3) Integration unlocks value

Email marketers have discovered campaign results, as well as fan profiling, works best if you can track the user journey outside of just email. Integration with web analytics packages provides further data on user actions, not just to ascertain campaign conversion success but also deepen prospect profiling for future targeting and segmentation.

Social marketing can collect lots of data, arguably far more than email marketing, because of the connectivity to the social graph - but this data should not exist in a silo. Feeding social data to an organization’s core marketing database will add rich insight and intelligence to all  marketing channels. 

So, social marketers, next time you pass the desk of your colleague who runs email marketing, make sure to stop and chat. You might learn a thing or two about the way social marketing must evolve.  And that advice might guide you to secure the additional funds needed to expand your social strategy.

Richard Gascoyne

Published 27 September, 2012 by Richard Gascoyne

Rich Gascoyne is GM Americas for the social marketing activation platform EngageSciences and is a contributor to Econsultancy.

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Comments (5)

Gemma Holloway

Gemma Holloway, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

I found your point about Social Media Marketers needing to focus more on Data analysis particularly valid. I think it is an all too often perception that to be a good social media marketer, engaging on social profiles is your only duty. The analysis of data is too often overlooked - and I would argue this is necessary to ensure you engagement is successful in the first place.

I also think it's worth mentioning; often an aim in email marketing is to get you information shared, whether this is through forwarding or social sharing. Social media also has this as an aim - for further sharing amongst followers. I think social media marketers could look at what methods email markers use to increase the shareability of their content and incorporate this within their social media content.

almost 6 years ago


Sally Bretton

If these three lessons can be learnt from email marketers then I believe that it will help social media marketers to a great extent. if these tips can help boost up the popularity and marketing strength of social media marketing then I don't think there is anything bad about it.

almost 6 years ago

Jonathan Mallia

Jonathan Mallia, Lead Management & Marketing Automation Consultant at GFI Software

I totally agree with you Gemma - Email marketing especially Lead Nurturing drive prospects to exclusive educational assets which will help marketers increase CTRs and share-ability! Preferably same assets will be gated to help us ask for progressive data to focus on more specific inbound marketing.

almost 6 years ago

Chris Knowles

Chris Knowles, Web Designer at The Data Octopus

And the logical progression from your third point... email and social marketers need to work together on campaigns, they are often both doing the same thing... flogging content.

almost 6 years ago


Amanda Brown, Director at Alterra Business Consulting Ltd

I manage social and email marketing for several small businesses and working on both, whilst extraordinarily time-consuming, requires both creativity in content creation as well as an analytical brain without losing sight of the overall goals. Communicating the metrics to the client in a meaningful way which doesn't get bogged down in too much detail is also part of the role we undertake. Never a dull moment here at Alterra.

almost 6 years ago

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