It has often been said that the rise of social media would lead to the demise of email marketing, yet this simply has not been the case -- nor will it likely ever be.
While both channels compete for consumers’ screen time, the competitive dynamic ends there. In reality, marketers have the greatest opportunity to reach consumers when they view social media and email marketing as partners with a common goal, rather than rely entirely on one over the other.
1. The benefits of both.
Email marketing still possesses the key to a highly effective marketing strategy -- personalization. Email allows marketers to segment and target different audiences, as well as deliver highly relevant and customized messages to specific contacts. In contrast, the same content is delivered to social media followers regardless of demographic, location or interests.
Additionally, when using email, marketers are in complete control of who receives messages and when. However, unless using an additional tool or sponsorship, brands have very little control of when their content is displayed or to whom it is shown on social media, as algorithms mandate those factors.
However, social media certainly boasts its own inherent advantages. First, there is essentially no cost to brands to simply have a presence on social media; Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. are all free platforms. Thus, if brands are seeing a profit from customers’ social media engagement, the ROI is already significant.
In addition, the sharing capabilities and immediacy of social media enable brands to rapidly capitalize on timely events -- from weather phenomena to viral sensations (think the blue/gold dress frenzy).
2. Lessons learned from social.
Fortunately, marketers can apply lessons from social media to improve their email campaigns.
First, email marketers should be more proactive about leveraging timely events such as trending topics, sports spectacles or pop culture phenomena in their messages. Using subject lines pegged to timely topics may cause recipients to stop and click on a message that they otherwise would have sent straight to the trash.
Additionally, tuning into consumer content preferences has become extremely important for marketers, and information captured from social media-based email subscriptions can help to craft the most effective email content for new contacts. For instance, if a contact signs up via Instagram, marketers should ensure that emails delivered to that person are rich with images. If she signs up through Twitter, her email messages may be best received when concise and to the point.
3. Partnership best practices.
When leveraged correctly, social media and email marketing can have a synergistic relationship for brands, with social media driving email subscriptions and emails bringing more followers to social.
It’s essential that email marketers include links to social pages at the bottom of every email, regardless if it’s a welcome email, a promotional email or any other type of message. The more often email recipients see a brand’s social links, the more likely they are to visit those social pages directly from the email and keep the brand’s social presence top of mind.
In turn, social media posts should encourage followers to subscribe to email messages. However, it’s important to note that such posts should not link back to the brand’s home page. Though such links can lead to a short-term web traffic boost, they can easily distract the new lead before he has the chance to subscribe, preventing him from seeing multiple messages from your brand over time.
Rather, social posts should link back to squeeze pages -- landing pages specifically meant to capture email opt-ins. These squeeze pages should have very simple content with a clear call to action: Sign up to receive emails.
Overall, social and email must work hand-in-hand to increase brand awareness and ultimately drive conversions. For effective outreach, marketing and social media departments must align to learn lessons from each other. Not only should they coordinate on campaigns and the timing and content of posts and emails, but also work together to ensure congruent messages are being sent from the brand.