Holistic Marketing: Best Practices for Integrating Email and Social

By EJ McGowan, General Manager of Campaigner

Most marketers already have their own standard "best practices" for email marketing campaigns.

Given the recent advancements in social media, such as Twitter's new Web-traffic conversion tools and Instagram's clickable ads, these channels are rapidly becoming an essential aspect of anyholisticmarketing campaign. To ensure a truly successful strategy, brands must integrate social and email marketing efforts as the overall effect is far more than the sum of its parts. Some marketers are (slowly) starting to integrate social media as an email advantage. However, too many are not yet incorporating social and email at all, and are missing out on two significant opportunities: a broader/bigger audience and more data.

Social media channels expose brands to an audience that goes far beyond an email subscriber base. There could be thousands of Facebook fans or people who have mentioned a brand on Twitter who are not in its email contact list, just waiting to be converted. Additionally, added customer touchpoints for an enterprise open the door to vast amounts of data, and more data means more personalization and overall more success. There are a handful of proven, yet some unknown tactics when it comes to integrating social and email marketing:

1. Measure, Measure and Measure Some More

Social media interaction provides massive amounts of data and insight on how users are responding to a brand's messages, but it's only valuable if the enterprise measures and analyzes the data in the most effective way. Since each medium offers unique types of metrics, it's critical to track data independently. For example, compile Twitter "re-tweets" separately from Facebook "likes" and blog post "shares." Analyze each metric for its impact over time and across campaigns. Does a Facebook "like" always suggest greater conversion potential than a Twitter "re-tweet"? This will let marketers compare and contrast which medium resonates best with their target audience.

Additionally, since any single social metric won't provide an accurate representation of marketing ROI, enterprises need to create a consolidated view of all metrics. Integrate an analytics solution with an email marketing platform that tracks both email and social to produce a holistic view of a company's results. This approach will allow marketers, site owners and the like to understand where their leads are coming from and what's driving them through the path-to-purchase.

2. Make Multi-Channel Users Your New BFFs

Customers who engage across multiple channels are incredibly valuable. These are people who are interacting via both email and social, truly demonstrating their commitment to a brand. Spend time identifying these multi-channel users and get to know them. Study their data to identify key trends or common habits. For example, do they all tend to share promotions over Facebook? Or are they frequent "re-tweeters"? Once a marketing team is able to clearly identify these users and know them backward and forward, they'll be able to more effectively customize email and social campaigns that meet their interests. When marketers prioritize and invest in building a relationship with these high-value customers they will be sure to reap the highest reward.

3. Know Your Channel, and Customize Like Crazy

One of the advantages of social media is that it allows companies to connect with users in a different environment from email (social tends to be more casual, for example), so they should be sure to customize their interactions accordingly. One of the worst things they can do as a marketer is to directly repurpose content from an email campaign for social channels with no changes made - especially a call-to-action (CTA). For instance, an email CTA may be to click through to the website or make a purchase, but that doesn't always make sense for Twitter or Facebook.

On Twitter, for example, people are looking for funny, witty, surprising or controversial content to engage with or re-tweet. Managers should invite them to follow their updates or use a specific hashtag to join a conversation. Facebook on the other hand, is a great place to develop a message with complementary content and engagement opportunities like images, videos or surveys. Encourage users to "like" a page and share branded content with their network. Companies should make sure they are taking advantage of social channels to expand their marketing message, not just syndicate it.

4. Keep Calm and Grow Your List

Internet professionals shouldn't forget that social media offers access to an audience that most likely isn't subscribed to their email lists. Take advantage of it. Some marketers will pay hundreds of dollars for lists to increase audience visibility. With social media, there is an endless supply of potential new users, and at virtually no cost to acquire. With the right encouragement in the appropriate channels, marketers can easily prompt users to opt-in and quickly grow their user base. Web workers should consider adding a Twitter CTA to sign up for their individual brand's e-newsletter through a traceable link, like bit.ly or ow.ly. This way, they'll not only gain new subscribers, but will also be able to measure and compare which social site sent them.

5. Don't Forget - Content is Still King

No one should underestimate the importance of mixing up their content and commerce messages. Viewers will burn out on a one-note marketing ad but will respond favorably when offered interesting or useful content as a way to change things up. Marketers should use social channels to share companion content or information that accompanies an email campaign. If a marketer is promoting a summer sale of 20 percent off, he or she should consider sharing fun facts about summer spending and encourage the sale as a way to save.

Inclusive Success

All in all, social channels should be carefully integrated parts of any marketing program - not just a way to make email content do double duty. By customizing interaction for each channel and taking a holistic view of engagement across social platforms, brand marketers can capture new email subscribers and strengthen existing customer relationships in ways that weren't previously possible. With these best practices in hand, brands can be confident that they are making the most of their email and social marketing programs.

EJ McGowan, general manager of Campaigner, has more than 25 years' experience in the software industry with expertise in building highly available, scalable SaaS based solutions.