StrongMail, which enables direct marketers to integrate social media into email marketing programs, has developed a social media framework that consists of three core functions: Social Programs, Social Direct and Social Share. As direct marketers struggle to fit social media programs into their overall marketing strategy, Ryan Deutsch believes the tools that integrate both will become the hub that supports strategies.
Deutsch, StrongMail's VP of strategic services and market development, says the company will release a tool in the next version of Message Studio -- expected to be released by September -- that allows people to publish email content on social media sites Facebook and MySpace, among others. Marketers will have an option to send messages directly into the email boxes of Facebook fans and track the interaction with messages, similar to email marketing campaigns.
Among the tools being introduced into the market today, Influencer Ad enables marketers to create direct-response campaigns. The tool is being offered through a partnership with PopularMedia, which focuses on developing social and viral campaigns.
The biggest challenge then becomes making the campaign interesting to drive it virally. For example, rather than send a coupon in an email for 50% off a bar blender, the email would include a link and message to "mix your friend a drink." Clicking on the link would enable the person to virtually make a strawberry margarita and send it off to share with Facebook friends.
The pages that allow consumers to mix and share drinks are served up by StrongMail. Technology tracks the message and the people who concoct the drinks. It lets marketers identify "influencers," Deutsch says. Based on behavior, the marketer can target people with specific promotions.
StrongMail developed the tools in response to requests by retail customers. The survey conducted by StrongMail reveals that email marketing linked to social media has become an important initiative, with 66% of marketers planning to integrate the two channels in 2009, and 48% who have already formulated a strategy for achieving this initiative.
Of those marketers planning to increase budgets in 2009, 83% will increase amounts in email marketing, followed by 62% in social media. Fifty-five percent of respondents reveal that one of their biggest challenges with integrating social media and email marketing is determining metrics to measure success. Still, 48% say establishing business goals for the program is challenging.
Results from the study are based on data from more than 500 marketers who participated in the online survey from May 21 to June 1, 2009.