How Social Media is Breathing Life into Email

Discussion in 'Mail Chat' started by PushSend, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. PushSend

    PushSend VIP

    Apr 12, 2011
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    By Sam Cece, CEO, StrongMail

    The demise of the email channel has long been predicted, usually to coincide with the launch of a competing communications service. Mark Zuckerberg’s most recent prophecy is no exception. But for all such statements, there is yet to be delivered any real proof that the demand for email is diminishing. In other words (Mark Twain’s to be precise), reports of the medium’s death are “an exaggeration”.

    Nobody should be under any illusion, however, about the impact social media will continue to have on brand communications. The aim for those looking to stay ahead, therefore, is to use the strengths of each channel in a way that will improve customer satisfaction and ultimately increase profits.

    Ever since people started flocking to Facebook and Twitter, companies have been trying to find ways to use social media channels to acquire new customers and convince existing ones to buy more. The charge was led by giants in the retail space like Best Buy, Dell and Starbucks, who used exclusive coupons on Twitter and Facebook to drive revenues. Soon, every major company had a Facebook page and Twitter feed, and email marketers began adding share links to their emails.

    Now most brands are looking at ways to tap the social networks of their biggest fans to acquire new customers. This has played out most obviously in the daily deal sector, with companies like Groupon, LivingSocial and HauteLook offering to reward their members for successful attempts at converting friends in their social networks into fellow customers. As a result, the member base for these companies has grown like wildfire.

    The role of email

    But this popularity surge does not point to the demise of one channel in favour of the other. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites still rely on email to keep their members informed of recent activity within their social networks, with the end goal of getting them to click through and drive more traffic to their sites.

    Brands can use email in a similar way to increase traffic by informing customers of relevant new content on their social media channels. By targeting valued social media content to customers based on preference and purchase data, brands can build trusted relationships that are the core of any successful social media effort.

    Of course, email can also play a critical role in alerting members to a brand's social media sites in the first place. Integrating banner ads, promoting corporate social media pages into existing email programmes is an easy first step.

    Additionally, consumer social media activity also presents email marketers with a wealth of data for improving targeting. Whether leveraging data from customers who "like" a company on Facebook or analysing sentiments on Twitter, brands can increase their knowledge of customers' preferences to fine-tune future communications.

    Castrol uses credits

    Consider the example of Castrol, which recently built a cross-channel communications programme that encourages sharing, engagement and purchasing from its customers.

    Through surveying existing subscribers and customers to better understand their interests, Castrol built a robust content and communications programme that included the development of several unique social communities (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr) and an innovative loyalty website that integrated these communities to create a unique experience for key influencers.

    By encouraging users to participate by accumulating “Castrol Credits," which can be redeemed for Castrol merchandise, racing memorabilia and tickets to racing and sporting events, users were quick to participate in forum discussions, sign up for race alerts and newsletter emails. At the same time, the aim of this integrated marketing program was to nudge customers beyond discussions about engine oil and toward a conversation around their true passion – cars and racing.

    Email played a central role in keeping Castrol's social community current on new content, loyalty status, referral updates and more. As a result of this integrated effort, Castrol’s social community has grown 2,000% in just nine months, highlighting its success with driving participation, sharing, advocacy and sales.

    Socialised email goes mainstream

    The point is that in order to reach this level of success with word-of-mouth customer acquisition, then the combined strength of the email and social channels needs to be utilised. It’s not about one medium over the other; it’s about the power of convergence. When done right, customers will respond. While social media channels like Twitter and Facebook are important for getting the word out to your customers – and for empowering them to share – email also plays a critical role.

    Email allows businesses to more specifically target loyal customers at the right time, including those not currently active on social networks. Giving targeted recipients the opportunity to share via email also allows them to be more targeted, rather than extending a referral-marketing offer to every one of their friends on Facebook. It should also be noted that when people do reach out to their friends, they choose to share the offer via email 80% of the time.

    Social media has made us all more connected, and with the right incentive, you can motivate your brand advocates to tap their social networks to acquire new customers in a way that makes both parties look good – regardless of what business they're in. But social media isn’t killing email - they are not natural foes, but rather complementary channels with their own strengths.

    source: UtalkMarketing

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