Email Service Providers Become Social-Ready

One of the benefits of using an email service provider is that the best vendors help support your subscriber acquisition efforts.

ESP's typically do this by providing Web forms. Content submitted through this forms is then piped from the website collecting the information into the database being stored at the ESP. With the influx of attention around social media however, email service providers are increasingly offering their clients a means to do at least some of this necessary acquisition legwork on popular social media sites - namely Facebook.

To date, most of the work done with "social" on the part of email service providers has revolved around SWYN (Share With Your Network) features which give the ability to post a notice on Facebook and Twitter about the most recent newsletter/email sent, and hope that it gets shared by users. That's useful but there are other ways to use social media for the sake of email - again, in terms of recipient acquisition.

Email marketing software provider AWeber has been the most recent entrant in the cause to leverage social for the good of email. Users of the service can now enable the Facebook registration feature which automatically prefills a prospective subscriber's information (name and email) into a Web form, as long as they are logged into the social network.

While the Aweber feature could lower the barriers to acquisition marketers should consider the trust and privacy implications for users who may question the rather aggressive approach.

Website Magazine looked into what other email marketing software and service vendors are doing to support the increasing interest in using social to drive acquisition with email. iContact offers an integrated set of social media tools, including customizable, Facebook-ready sign-up forms, a means to add sharing buttons to emails and Facebook and Twitter publishing. ConstantContact is another that obviously recognizes the role social is playing in email success. It's Join My Mailing List application, which was launched in late 2009, enables marketers to collect email addresses on their Facebook brand pages. Another of my recommended ESP's, GetResponse, doesn't offer a Facebook form for subscriptions but does provide an import tool dubbed List Booster which enables email marketers to upload email lists from mail clients or other services, including LinkedIn.

There are of course many others email marketing service providers which offer social sharing features - too many to mention. Collecting subscribers through is only one benefit from being at the intersection of email and social. With the rich data that comes from social interaction, email marketers are also now empowered with an ability to approach those most influential to their success.

One of the problems email marketers have encountered is in understanding who their most influential subscribers are - something which could prove very useful. A new solution from email marketing provider BlueHortnet Networks, dubbed Social Influencers Strategy Blueprint, could be the answer. The solution offers marketers the ability to identify members of their subscriber email list who actively share email content across their personal social networks, segment those subscriber based on their social sharing behavior, and send them targeted email to further motivate social sharing activity. By being able to connect with "influencers", marketers also have an ability to attract more loyal users, buyers, and subscribers.

What other innovations as an email marketers are you seeing today? And what social media features does your email service provider offer? Share your comments below with other Website Magazine readers!