Commentary

How to Integrate Email Marketing with Social Media

Some of the most successful brand campaigns are those that have built communities online, driven people to specific promotions and directed traffic to the brand's Web site. Look at Hallmark. Rather than sell to its customers, has reached out and asked them for their favorite "Hallmark Moment" in honor of the company's 100th birthday.

 

This idea of storytelling through integrated email and social media marketing is the key to the campaign's success. How can other brands adopt this approach to improve their efforts?

Building an engaged social-media community enhanced by email marketing

  • First, monitor online conversations to find out where your audiences are engaging. Don't follow the hype around certain social sites -- follow your audience.
  • Consider launching a dedicated email marketing campaign encouraging existing customers to join your Facebook page or Twitter page to re-engage them.
  • Provide clear benefits and incentives that will be available to the fans of this page. This type of campaign will produce an increased number of fans who see value in engaging with your brand. And, it will help you to build social profiles of your customers.
  • Ensure your campaign drives quality followers, rather than a huge volume of fans.
  • Ensure your emails are optimised for social-media sharing, carrying your content further via Twitter, YouTube and Facebook.

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Encourage customers to bring their stories to the community

  • Use the same channels as your customers and engage them where they want to be.
  • Give your audience a reason to contribute. If you do this in the right way, your followers are more than likely to contribute their own stories, photos, videos.
  • One of our customers, Filofax, spoke about how it listens to its followers. By posing questions and asking for comments by email or via Facebook on specific themes, Filofax has been able to uncover a huge array of customer stories and some surprisingly emotional ones. Stories revealed on Facebook are used in Filofax's email newsletter to drive further engagement with the brand. On Twitter, Filofax can get instant feedback on a new idea and find out if there's a new trend they can pick up on.

Develop content but don't dominate the conversation

  • Start a community story -- bring together likeminded people and host an online event that brings passion to the brand, but isn't based solely around the benefits of the product.
  • For example: many companies forget to go beyond the mail blasting and selling and fail to convert their brand messages into conversational material. A company that is bringing conversations to the brand is whiskey maker Laphroaig. On its site, it started the "story of a community" -- engaging people who enjoy the finer things in life. Once a year, the brand hosts a highly successful online tasting session. Members across the globe can dial-in to share a drink and a story.

Measure the impact of your integrated-marketing campaigns

  • Collect customer feedback and use integrated email marketing and social-media tools to gauge your impact and measure multichannel responses.
  • Use this information to feed customized content based on the channel preferences of your customers.

What does the future hold?

Once your client base supports your brand, the story will deliver a clear path to successful viral marketing through email and sharing on social-media channels. This will be supported by an increasing number of software tools and services that measure the impact of integrated campaigns. The future of social media is an exciting chapter in storytelling. However, social media should be seen as more than a direct-marketing channel with rich opportunities for revenue. It is a vehicle to revolutionize the relationships between brands and their audiences.

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