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Just had a “conversation” with our shiny new marketing manager of the benefits of social vs email marketing. Wish I had a tape recorder (doesn’t that sound dated, hmm iPhone anyone?) to hand as I think it encapsulates the position a lot of marketing managers find themselves in...

We are all of course excited by the opportunities that social media provides, but there seem to be as many fails as there are success stories (Habitat vs Barclaycard), which makes it hard to justify to yourself let alone to your board. I think this is because there are few experts in this field – after all it hasn’t really been around long enough for anyone to be classed as an expert.

Marketers are a little stuck, they know loads about 'tradigital' marketing (email marketing, PPC, and SEO) but don’t yet have enough access to proven social media wins to easily get buy in.

So I’ve been thinking about ways of taking the best bits of social media and incorporating them into Tradigital marketing channels – specifically email.

Blogs

What is great about blogs? They are regular, informative and you can comment if you so chose (@absterc would point out here that you should always allow comments or it’s not true dialogue).

What can we apply from blogs to email?

  • Regularity. Surprising as it may be people get used to the regularity of your emails and tend to react badly if you mess with the schedule, very much the same if a blogger only posts erratically.
  • Informative. This is related to the frequency, recipients don’t mind getting very regular email communications as long as you have something new and interesting to them within the content. Monthly emails can be very dull if you are only talking about the latest version of your software, whereas daily emails can be fantastic – Econsultancy's topic alerts and Seth Godin are favourites of mine, because there is always something new.
  • Comments. This is the key factor, blogs are two-way communication channels, one-way blogs are just website content with lower copy writing standards. And of course you don’t need to actually comment for it to be a two-way communication, just the fact that you can comment if you want to is enough to engender that feeling of engagement. And it’s exactly the same with email; replies are your listening portal. Replies should be encouraged, you are never going to get loads, after all there are rarely more than a handful on blogs, but you have to make it easy and follow up when people do. So the worst thing you can do is have a “do not reply” email address, and the second worst thing you can do is send a static automated response when people do reply.

How about Twitter?

One of the factors behind the success of Twitter has to be its accessibility. It’s so easy to sign up and as you are limited to 140 characters you don’t need to be Shakespeare to be a regular, and successful, Twitterer. It’s also super quick and easy to Follow/Unfollow.

Lessons that transfer to email

I’m often asked to comment on the content of emails – and the thing I say most often is make it shorter. People’s attention span is shortening by the minute. Honestly nobody will read down to the bottom unless you have something amazing to say – and if you do, put a snippet on the email and the rest of the story on your site. After all email is the channel not the content, email gets people to do things and go places, it isn’t the end destination.

Another thing that marketers get the jitters about (you know you do) is putting the unsubscribe link at the top of the email. Fear not jitterbugs this will show to your recipients that you are a legitimate marketer and that you don’t want to email people who don’t want to received your emails. Even ignoring the massive improvements in your delivery rates that you can achieve, unsubscribe links belong at the top of the email.

On the flip side it is really easy to follow, so make it easy for people to subscribe. Newsletter sign-up forms should be prominent on your site.

What else?

Facebook is a fantastic way of keeping in touch, but as a standalone marketing channel it is a little limited (IMO). The main thing we can draw is that email shouldn’t be looked at in isolation.

Email is a great channel but on its own it can’t achieve all your marketing goals (as much as I wish it was the only marketing channel). BUT email used in conjunction with other marketing mediums is brilliant – it’s like adding Vodka to a cocktail, it doesn’t shout about itself but it makes all the flavours work better.

Email can be used to bring together different elements and stretch the channels that people interact with you on. It would be difficult to run an email data capture program through Twitter, Facebook or a blog, driving email subscribers to these social networks is by comparison a doddle.

The ubiquity of email is its main strength, according to our trusty sources Twitter has over 4m users, Facebook a hefty 150m but there are 1.5 billion internet users – 90% of which have an email address, making it the top on-line activity just ahead of search engines. Pretty impressive hey?

My advice take the best bits from social (which we are all, go on admit it a little unsure of the value), and apply to the scale and accountability of email and you are a long way towards engaging, accountable but above all effective marketing campaigns.

Marc Munier

Published 18 August, 2009 by Marc Munier

Marc Munier is commercial director at Pure360, and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can hook up with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

11 more posts from this author

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Jon Dodd, Managing director at Bunnyfoot Ltd

I've always thought of marketing as "the ears and voice". With social networking, several people now are "the voice" and it must get noisy for the poor customer trying to get an idea of what this brand is!

about 7 years ago

Eline Walda

Eline Walda, Independent marketing and communications consultant at Eline Walda Strategisch Marketing Advies

Very interesting article, makes a lot of sense! I would like to add one suggestion, though. I think companies should consider offering their readers the option of an rss-feed more often. This could serve as an alternative for the unsubscribe-option. In other words: at the top of the e-mailing you could add two buttons: a) change to rss-feed and b) unsubscribe entirely.

Personally, I am fed up with my mailbox overflowing with newsletters, even if the items in it are of interest to me. I would much prefer to skip through the articles and read those that seem interesting. It is far easier to do this from an online rss-feed such as Netvibes or Greatnews than glancing at dozens of newsletters in my mailbox. I don't think I'm the only one who thinks that way. More and more, we are faced with an information overload. We need tools to stay organized. Rss feeds rather than newsletters are one way to do so.

about 7 years ago

Marc Munier

Marc Munier, Commercial Director at Pure360

Rick & Jon - Yes the message is the key, and there are no short cuts in marketing you can't (as Warren Buffett says) have "mummy and daddy time"with nine women and get a baby in a month. Get the messaging right and the channel follows NOT the other way around.

about 7 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Marc,

I agree that people can adapt social media practises to benefit other marketing channels, comes back to the age old requirement of integration. Customers expect a seamless experience so you have to plan activity at a strategic level then translate into tactical elements by channel. If you run a blog and have established a voice/personality, don't contradict it by writing email copy that is completely at odds.

One addition I would make to your application of social into email is with ratings & reviews. There is good evidence now to show that including product/service ratings & reviews in marketing content leads to higher click though and conversion. Same applies to search marketing.

Taking it to the next level is using social media and traditional marketing channels (both off and online) to drive a coherent campaign for max reach. I like the idea of a company using offline advertising driven by customer reviews to promote online products/services and using social media as online PR to support the activity with other online marketing planned as well (email, PPC, SEO, affiliate etc).

It is logical that if you have invested in something, you maximise the benefit and social media can definitely have a positive influence on email marketing.

Will we see people putting their latest Twitter feed into emails with a link to follow? Or start a Twitter conversation via email based on a specific subject using hashtags? Big opportunity to drive engagement.

thanks

james

about 7 years ago

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Mary

Its an interesting Article, but you haven't mentioned about video marketing. A recent research shows that Youtube is considered as the second best search engine after Google. Companies should upload their product testimonials from customers, industry analysts to increase their search engine visibility.

Regards

Mary

about 7 years ago

Marc Munier

Marc Munier, Commercial Director at Pure360

James

Great points and well made, I really like the point about maximising the return on investment, if you've invested in a social channel or ratings system make sure it permeates through your marketing in order to gain maximum value. (sorry a lot of cheesy words there)

Mary

You are right video is becoming more relevant as users demand richer browsing experiences but I couldn't see any clear lessons to translate into email.

Eline

I've been thinking about your thoughts on RSS and although it seems to work best for you I can't see that there is a better channel to deliver a timely engaging message. Those ones you are annoyed at skimming may be interesting but perhaps they aren't timely, or expected? I'm convinced that messages which deliver content at the time you want it should be sent by email.

Thanks for all the comments and RT's

Marc

about 7 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Marc,

Glad you like the comments. Re video, you are right,  it is a difficult challenge because video content can add value and drive conversion, however you can't embed video content into emails. The only option is to add a feature about video content and show a screenshot and link through. Not ideal but perhaps a way to demonstrate the availability of the content.

thanks

james

about 7 years ago

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Michael

We use many of the social channels to share information of value, however when it comes to email marketing we use it to sell. There must be a balance of free useful information with rare sales pitch.

about 7 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

86henry what has that post got to do with email and social media? Please can you only addd comments that relate to the post or contribute to the discussion. Otherwise, you waste people's time as many of us follow individual articles and get alerts when new comments are posted.

Thanks

james

about 7 years ago

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willson

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almost 7 years ago

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