Part 2 of 3: Integrating Email and Social Media Can Increase Response, But Beware of Common Pitfalls

My colleague, Stephanie Colleton, recently blogged about the fact that email marketing and social media are two very complementary channels. By creating a strategic plan for integration, marketers can boost performance and response. Stephanie compared email and social to chocolate and peanut butter—or two great tastes that taste great together, to paraphrase the tag line from Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

To continue with the theme of channel integration—and candy—I’d like to propose that email and social media represent a double pleasure waiting for you. Does the tagline ring a bell? While you enjoy this classic Doublemint Gum commercial (circa 1985) and view some truly questionable hair styles, I’ll make a case for how pleasurable integrating email and social can be, as long as you follow some key best practices and avoid a few common mistakes.

  1. Set actionable goals for your integration efforts. This may sound incredibly obvious, but numerous studies point to the fact that many marketers are simply jumping on the social media bandwagon without a clue as to what they want to achieve through their social media efforts or how to measure if what they’re doing is working. The 2010 Social Media in Business Census published by Cyance and IDM polled over 100 B2B marketers, mostly in the UK. The study showed that while almost 65% use social media to engage in online conversations about their brands or products, more than 61% don’t have defined metrics for measuring social media activities and 50% admitted to not measuring their efforts at all. Avoid this pitfall by knowing what you want to achieve and how you’re going to measure success. Then, track your efforts using clearly defined KPIs. Marketers embarking on a social media campaign are likely doing some measuring as part of their existing email strategy. However, it will be important to create new KPIs for measuring the success of integration and understanding how your efforts in one channel affect the performance of the other. The only actionable way to do this is to establish what success looks like and work backwards from there.
  2. Regularly update your content. A lot of marketers start out launching a social media strategy with the best of intentions, but they mistakenly assume the responsibility of communicating with their customers and prospects via social channels (in addition to the other channels already being used) will be a minimal effort. Often, the person or team already responsible for the marketer’s other digital efforts, like the email program and company website, gets to take on the additional burden of managing social comments and chatter and posting content across multiple social sites. This can quickly take its toll and the first thing to go is often the distribution of fresh content, with social sites sitting dormant or content aging and going stale. The social media engine runs on new content—if you’re not regularly updating your sites with the latest information for your fans/followers, you will quickly lose momentum and the interest of your audience. In addition, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to repurpose that content for your email newsletter or blog, a great benefit of channel integration. Don’t underestimate the time and resources it takes to manage your social initiatives and have a plan in place for disseminating content on a consistent schedule.
  3. Create a personality for your brand. When email marketing is done well, it can create opportunities for having a dialog with your customers and prospects. Social media takes that one step further and provides the opportunity for your brand to have a voice and a personality. Yet, many marketers ignore this by creating dry, static and product-driven social media pages and content. This won’t keep your audience’s attention. They are looking for fun, entertaining and exclusive information, as well as the chance to interact with your brand in a completely unique way. It’s important to treat interactions in this channel differently from what you’re doing via print, broadcast and other more traditional channels. So loosen up—and don’t forget that your content needs to be more about your audience and less about you. Of course, the goal is still to sell, but instead of communicating new product specs, explain how your product can help your audience be smarter, more organized and ultimately live better lives. If you’re already doing this with your email marketing content, it shouldn’t be too difficult to apply this approach to your social media efforts.

Want help integrating your email and social media strategies and creating an optimized plan for tracking and measuring ROI? Return Path’s Professional Services team can help. Call 866-362-4577, visit us at or email [email protected] to get started today.

Next week, my colleague, Julia Peavy, will share some innovative examples of marketers integrating the email and social channels really well.

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