Let the Land-Grabbing Begin – Use Social Applications to Enhance Your Email Programs

I’ve been hearing a lot of questions surrounding the best application of social media to the marketing mix, but one that has been slightly overlooked and under-discussed is who should really own it within an organization. And until you can figure that out, it is really difficult to hold any one internal resource responsible for devising a solid and actionable social plan.

To that end, StrongMail Systems recently conducted a survey to see how marketers were approaching the social space and who planned to own the channel. More than 500 marketers responded, and the results validated our suspicions. Social media is emerging as a direct marketing channel, and marketers are planning significant investment in email marketing and social media programs in the second half of 2009.

One thing the survey clearly conveyed is that ownership of social media within the various facets of marketing is still up for grabs, with 29% of respondents stating that responsibility is owned by multiple departments. But for 36% of the respondents, social is owned by the direct marketing organization, which allows for significant alignment with email marketing efforts. Social media was initially seen as a terrific vehicle for public relations, but surprisingly only 9% of respondents reported PR organizations owning the social media channel, which suggests that marketing teams value social media more for its demand generation potential than awareness building. A paltry 5% have a dedicated social media department.

Other notable facts from the survey include:

  • 66% of respondents plan to integrate email and social channels in 2009
  • 48% of respondents have already formulated a strategy for achieving email and social integration
  • Of marketers planning to increase budgets in 2009, 83% will increase spend in email marketing, followed by social media at 62%

    If you are asking yourself where to start, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. 55% of respondents report that one of their biggest challenges with integrating social media and email marketing is determining metrics by which to measure success. At 48%, establishing business goals for the program is a close second. So here are a few tips on where to start:

  • Establish goals for the social channel. Is it your objective to use the social outlets for brand building, email list growth or increased revenue? While your objectives could be multi-fold, understanding what they are is the right place to start.
  • Prioritize your social goals. Now that you have your goals established, apply some logical business measurements to effectively prioritize the goals. Which objectives will require the least start-up versus the need for longer lead times coupled with programmatic implications that can result?
  • Develop an action plan. It is not realistic to think that you can hit the social world and accomplish all of your objectives by simply posting a Facebook page. Devise a plan and put your best foot forward – you don’t want to rush to market with a half-baked plan in any marketing channel, but the viral aspect of social magnifies those mistakes multi-fold, so be cautious.

    Based on these findings and what is known about the power of social media, it’s clear that it deserves some serious attention and has grown to the stage where it needs an owner and a purpose within marketing.

    – Kara Trivunovic, StrongMail Systems

  • 2 thoughts on “Let the Land-Grabbing Begin – Use Social Applications to Enhance Your Email Programs

    1. Great study findings, Kara, thanks. It often seems like there is more testing of tactics in social marketing than there is execution of well developed, synchronized strategy. That’s okay, since it’s all still new. Your study also seems to illustrate that marketers realize the logical starting place is email – the channel where customers and prospects are already engaging with brands.

      Email is great because it is so immediately measureable, but in our enjoyment of that high value, quick return, we often neglect the long term engagement value. Email customers are simply better customers – they are of higher value to an organization because they are more engaged.

      I’m glad to see email marketers embracing social marketing from a position of strength: the email dialog.

      Stephanie Miller, VP, Return Path
      stephanie.miller [at] returnpath.net

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