Last week, prediction number two of Tim Ferriss' 4 Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2011 was "The Full Resurrection of Email." Groupon's $6 billion valuation has shined its light on the value of permission marketing. Now permission marketing is capturing the imagination of angel investors and investment bankers all over again.
Moreover, as Ferriss stated, "email addresses are a safer long-term investment than social media features." This doesn't diminish the fact that Facebook eclipsed Google in terms of total site visits in December. It doesn't downplay the meteoric adoption of smartphones, and it doesn't belittle 100 million Twitter users worldwide.
Instead, Ferriss' article and the widespread support it received give me hope. Fruitless dialogue about which channel will prevail is passé. They will all thrive for the foreseeable future. 2011 is the year to really start integrating these tools in support of rock-solid business objectives: more sales, more leads, more supporters, and more satisfied customers.
"Like us on Facebook" and "Follow us on Twitter" links in your emails aren't integration. "Like" and "Tweet" buttons are a little closer, but only if people understand why they should click them. According to a recent study from the Nielsen Norman Group, college students, the most savvy Facebook users, often can't make the mental leap to why they would want to click these buttons. They don't understand how sharing things with their friends will help them!
These tactics are only the beginning of integration among email, Facebook and Twitter. In hopes of stirring up some creativity in this area, I've compiled a list of things I have either seen work or plan to try in the coming year.
Feature winners of Facebook competitions in your email newsletter. By featuring these Facebook winners in email, you get the dual benefits of additional incentives/rewards from Facebook contests while tangibly highlighting what your Facebook community is about to email subscribers.
Promote exclusive deals available only to email subscribers on Facebook and Twitter. Email subscribers want exclusive benefits for their loyalty. By reserving certain benefits for email subscribers, you're increasing the value of your program to subscribers, and creating a motivation for others to subscribe. The viral nature of Facebook and Twitter make them ideal venues to promote these benefits.
Post links to Web versions of your best emails on Facebook and Twitter. This tactic can drive incremental email impressions, often more than including "like" and "tweet" buttons in your emails. The key? A strong subject line. Just make sure to keep a close watch on frequency so you don't wear out your welcome with this tactic.
Include "like" buttons in email newsletters and promotions, but give customers a reason to use them. The Nielsen Norman Group study found students were more likely to use "share this" links when they were prompted about the benefits. Use copy to prompt people. For example, "share this on Facebook and find out what your friends think about this product."
Encourage email subscribers to post questions on Facebook and/or Twitter. Unfortunately, subscribers have been conditioned not to reply to commercial email messages, but they still have questions. Demonstrate your dedication to customer service by encouraging them to ask questions via Facebook and Twitter.
Include questions posted on Twitter and Facebook in your email and answer them. If you're active in social media, you are constantly developing Q&A content; listening tools allow you to tell which ones are of interest to your audience. Including these is another win/win: providing valuable content for your email audience while highlighting the benefits of participating on Facebook and Twitter to your email subscribers.
Create an email segment containing Twitter Followers and send them additional "insider information" through email. Twitter Followers on your email list demonstrate a different level of interest in your company. They appreciate the personal, insider perspective Twitter provides. Providing specialized content fuels this appetite while giving them even more to tweet.
Collect email address at the point of conversion when consumers link from Facebook and Twitter. One of the most effective methods of driving email subscriptions from Facebook and Twitter is to collect email addresses as these customers convert from offers. The volume is modest (given the conversion requirement), but the quality is high -- and tracking the source allows you to easily identify them as Facebook or Twitter users. (Extra bonus: you can finally stop including those "Become a Fan" and "Become a Follower" buttons to these folks. It's not relevant anymore.)
They aren't all necessarily proven tactics, but then there is always the advantage of being an early mover. Try them out and let me know how they work. Even more, share your new email-social integration ideas; no doubt this list is just scratching this surface.