Last month, I wrote a quick summary of the “Creating an Environment for Viral Marketing Success” panel that I participated in at the Buzz2009 event from SmartBrief. During the wide-ranging discussion, I shared a number of tips to help marketers synergize (and energize) their email and social marketing strategies.
1. Match the content to the medium. Email is great for lifecycle marketing, promotional broadcasts and content newsletters. Facebook fan pages are great for surveys or building loyal fan bases. Twitter may be great for customer service, or perhaps to broadcast. Don’t just repost your blog everywhere – send content that is relevant to the channel so that you appeal to customers who consume information in different ways.
2. Make it easy to share. Certainly add “SWYN” or Share with Your Network links, but do so prominently and integrate them into the content. SWYN links in the footer will not drive significant sharing, just like a buried Forward to a Friend link will get little use.
3. Host your own social community. Invite conversation among Facebook fans (e.g.: What do you think of this new product feature?), offer product reviews or build your own community (IBM Corp. has nearly 45 community sites). Use that content in your email newsletters, and to help keep product and customer service and marketing teams connected to the marketplace.
4. Tie it back to email. Integrate the opt-in invitation everywhere – on your Facebook page (Lenovo does this well), at the end of videos, on your Twitter profile, on key landing pages for shared content.
5. Offer choice. Too frequent and irrelevant are the reasons most often cited by complainers to your email program. Would these subscribers stay connected to your brand if you gave them a choice for fewer emails, plus a Twitter feed for coupons? Mix it up a bit and offer meaningful “cocktails” of social and email marketing content to optimize subscriber satisfaction and lower complaints.
6. Celebrate your listening skills. If you are responding to customer and prospect input, be sure to communicate back your responses and any changes you are making. This makes for excellent email newsletter content.
7. Participate. Do more than listen, participate. Don’t engage halfway.
As with everything in email and social media, it’s all about the subscriber experiences you create via your content strategy. All the viral mechanics and technology in the world will not make your brand compelling or engaging. Think about it. No one is going to re-tweet or post your offer on their Facebook page unless it’s really relevant to them. Social networks are personal. Every link we post is an endorsement, and most consumers and business professionals take that endorsement very seriously.
Our content must be relevant and interesting enough to share. But don’t stop there. A big part of the experience is the context. The channel matters. Be where your customers are – which may not be every single social network and photo sharing website out there. Too diffuse a strategy will also dilute your message. For most of us, right now (and for the foreseeable future), the vast majority of our customers are in the inbox.
That is why email remains the coolest and sexiest channel in the digital marketer’s toolkit: Revenue. Email drives the most revenue at the lowest cost. Period. And you just don’t get any sexier than that in business.