Email: Social Media's Fraternal Twin?

While writing up a social media recommendation the other day for a client, it struck me that although the terminology might be slightly different in email marketing, the same set of rules apply to both disciplines. I wanted to share a few of our media core tenets because I believe they can positively impact how we view the names in our email customer database, and how we utilize the channel. Social media and email marketing may not be identical twins -- but could they be fraternal? See what you think!

Social media is part of a wider strategy,  not a strategy in itself. Just like the other elements of your marketing plan, strategies must be tied to your audience's needs, passions and interests and be rooted in the core values of your company.

Marketers often silo social media and email marketing apart from the overall marketing efforts.  But these activities must work together.  They need to align with the overall marketing plan in order for the efforts to be successful.  That means not only collaboration within the program elements, but also with the actual team of people that support it.



Social media is not about free media; it's a community that is powerful if you put resources behind it. Social is driven by building communities around common affinities. When nurtured, it will grow and provide reach. When just used to cut corners without a robust plan behind it, the community will wither.

Organizations should stop turning to these two channels because they are perceived to be inexpensive or "free." While they do not have a paid media expense associated with them, they still require manpower to implement and maintain, and should be used for the correct strategic reasons in the overall media mix (paid or unpaid). 

While we don't typically talk in terms of building communities and the value of social currency with our email customers, when viewed with this filter we move beyond a one-way message push. The "Like" button on Facebook is the equivalent of an email address collected, and someone can "de-friend" a brand with the same mouse click as hitting "unsubscribe." 

People respond to what stirs them.  82% of consumers connect with fewer than 10 brands in the social media space --  that's not many. You must give people a reason to engage with you. 

A recent study by Morpace, "Facebook's Impact on Retailers," (eMarketer, April 1, 2010), provides insight into the reasons that U.S. Facebook users join fan pages. Thirty-seven percent of the respondents cite the desire to receive coupons/discount offers, while 35% join to stay current on available new products. Look familiar to those of you with successful email programs? Both channels need to offer their loyal base a little something extra to say thank you.

Influence the influencers. 80% of the content in social media channels is produced by just 16% of the population.

A recent Forrester article, "Reaching Your Most Valuable eMail Customers, Influencers' Attitudes Toward Email Marketing,"  introduces a valuable email customer segment called "promotion influencers." Forty-five percent of promotion influencers will forward promotional emails they've subscribed to, compared with just 23% of average email subscribers. In each channel, when armed with valuable social currency, the influencers become powerful brand ambassadors.

Social drives insights. Listen, amplify and measure your communities aggressively. They are a rich bed of insight, research and, in the end, they are your advocates.

Being measurable and the source of extensive consumer data, both channels provide deep insights into your customers' behaviors and their likes and dislikes.

The entry of social media to the digital marketing landscape also serves as a reminder to take a holistic view of your marketing efforts to achieve optimal lift with greater cost efficiency. Not only are email and social media fraternal twins -- they still want to be part of the overall family!

5 comments about "Email: Social Media's Fraternal Twin? ".
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  1. Becky Repka from freelance marketing, July 12, 2010 at 3:19 p.m.

    well, said. I absolutely agree. Email marketing and social media go hand-in-hand.

  2. Rita from FreshAddress, Inc., July 12, 2010 at 4:08 p.m.

    I would also agree and add other 'siblings' to the mix. Combined with several additional means of furthering brand recognition and trust including direct mail, telemarketing, tv, radio, print ads etc, email and social media fit into a big picture of marketing strategies, as less expensive tools used to successfully leverage those which are more costly.

  3. Lester Perry from T3, July 12, 2010 at 5:03 p.m.

    I agree. Social and email are just part of a wider marketing mix. I just wish someone would tell our clients. Every client I've ever worked on predefines their media budget based on a "proven" track record (70% on TV, 20 print, 10 online etc). But this is a dying model. We need to first develop the idea, then agree on the most appropriate channels to reach our targets. That will tell us where to spend our first dollar.

  4. Lester Perry from T3, July 13, 2010 at 4:52 p.m.

    There's also a pretty interesting article in this months Entrepreneur featuring a new company called DUKKY who's redefining DM and social.

  5. Lester Perry from T3, July 13, 2010 at 4:57 p.m.

    Last year Microsoft launched Outlook Social Connector. A plug in that syncs social networking feeds with one Outlook contact book.

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