It's no longer a question of either-or. Savvy entrepreneurs know that both email and social media are important parts of a successful marketing strategy. Using the right tools to get the right message to the right audience is critical over the holidays, when businesses and organizations are pulling out all the stops to capture consumers’ attention and dollars.
So how can you engage customers when competition is so fierce? Here’s some good news for small businesses on a budget: Social media extends the life and reach of your email marketing campaigns. It empowers marketers to better engage their audiences, and gives customers the means to share content and offers with their networks. If email gets your message heard, then social media spreads the message even farther.
Here's how to extend your email marketing reach and add some social spice to your holiday campaigns. Before you start spreading the cheer, keep these seven tips in mind.
1. Create valuable content to share. Your email subscribers and social followers won't share content just for the sake of sharing. But they will share content that interests and entertains them, shows them you're listening, solves their problems, and improves their lives. And around the holidays, everyone is looking for a great offer, whether it's a clever gift idea, an awesome deal, or a money-saving coupon.
Related: Making Email Newsletters More Social
2. Include a social call to action. When you start a conversation, request feedback, or make a promotional offer via email, the next step is to drive your audience to social destinations and engage them. Make it clear to your email readers what you want them to do next. It may be to "Like" you on Facebook to get a coupon, follow you and retweet an offer on Twitter to be eligible for a prize, or continue a hot-topic holiday discussion elsewhere.
3. Make your campaigns easy to share. Your aim is to capture your customers' attention and then inspire them to comment on and share your content or offer with their friends or network. That way, a whole new audience hears about your business, with the implied endorsement of your customers. What a powerful way to get your message across. Be sure to…
- Add social share icons to the top of your email newsletter, so readers can easily share your content with just one click.
- Keep your tweets short and sweet so that others can retweet within Twitter's 140-character limit.
4. Customize your message for each network. Tools make it easy to share your email content across social media channels. But don't overly automate your marketing message ("set it and forget it") at risk of losing your personal touch. Get to know your audience segments and their preferred social turf. Then, create a customized message for each network of followers. Post those links to your email newsletter on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn -- wherever your audience spends social time online.
5. Invite email signups via social media and mobile marketing. Holidays are a great time to grow your mailing list, too. Remember to…
- Post sign-up links across your social media accounts.
- Add a "Join My Mailing List" box to your website and Facebook pages.
- Invite your audience to join your mailing list by texting you (if your email marketing service provider offers this feature).
6. Participate in social conversations and inspire new content. Pay attention to customer conversations and feedback when you post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If a discussion catches fire, jump in yourself and fan the flames to keep it going. Engage customers in social conversations, and use their input to develop ideas for future email content that they'll also want to share.
7. Check your social media stats. See how many people shared your holiday campaigns outside the email environment. Take note of what works and what doesn't, so you may take those valuable lessons learned into the new year.
Social media gives email more reach and power, connecting all of your communications in an integrated engagement marketing plan. Combining email and social media marketing enables you to better engage your customers, and inspire them to share your content -- and do some of the holiday marketing for you. Here's to a social and successful holiday season.
Gail Goodman is the author of Engagement Marketing: How Small Business Wins In a Socially Connected World (Wiley, 2012) and CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based Constant Contact Inc., a provider of email marketing, event marketing, social media marketing, local deal and online survey tools and services for small businesses, associations and nonprofits.