During last month’s meeting of the eec List Growth and Engagement Roundtable, the group members shared their thoughts and experiences on the concept of integrating email marketing and social strategies.
Luke Glasner of Glasner Consulting opened the discussion by highlighting a successful program that he implemented where his company created Facebook and LinkedIn groups that focused on the same topics as a specific email newsletter that his company sends out. After creating these social groups, newsletter subscribers were encouraged to join the recently-built social communities to interact with others who had similar interests. “The connection worked both ways” said Glasner. “In addition to growing our social communities with our email subscribers, we also encouraged our social fans to join our email newsletter list.”
Stephanie Miller of Return Path asked the group about the value of having the same subscribers consuming your content from both email and social networks. Miller said “if the goal is to have multiple touchpoints with the same subscribers, then it’s fine to cross-pollinate. If you see your social followers and email subscribers as unique audiences, then sending them the same content probably isn’t the best strategy.” Miller sees this as a real challenge that all marketers face. “Before jumping into a social community, it’s important to think about the broader contact strategy and how these new channels will impact this. If your social followers are a fundamentally different group of customers than your email subscribers, then you should communicate with them differently, and not try a one size fits all message.”
Luke mentioned that for publishers, the cross-pollination of email and social customers makes sense. “The goal of many publishers is to generate exposure for advertisers. While social can do an excellent job of building community, the monetization of advertising is not as straight forward as it is in traditional email marketing.” Because of this, Glasner says “it’s important to drive your social fans to become email subscribers, as this creates the exposure that publishers and their advertisers want.”
Nate Romance of ExactTarget suggested that the various channels can have different value propositions for subscribers or fans, which makes subscriber overlap okay. “Consider a retailer who uses email to provide discounts and sales, uses Facebook as a way to get brand advocates to talk to one another and provide feedback on products, and uses Twitter to provide fast customer service responses.” Romance says that because these three channels all provide a different value to subscribers, the subscriber overlap simply means that the subscriber can use the channel that makes the most sense for their need.
“Instead of just pushing offers through these three mediums, they are communicating with the same core group of subscribers, but providing different services to the customer through each of these. Companies get into trouble if they just view Twitter and Facebook as cheap email and try to just push the same ‘free shipping’ offer. It can be redundant, and if the offer is better (or worse) on one of the channels, subscribers will notice and can voice their frustrations about this.”
Adds Yael Penn of imagine 360, “People respond differently to different media. By reinforcing cross-channel, and making them play well together, having cross channel subscribers can increase the response rate of an integrated campaign. Some people need the reinforcement of multiple channels before making a buying decision, and adding social media to an existing email marketing campaign can help accomplish this.”
Romance adds that individual subscribers or fans might have different perceptions of how they want to interact with various channels. “Some people might want to get information on Facebook, but feel like purchasing through an email is ‘safer’ or more professional. Need to reach the right subscriber with the right message and in their preferred channel at the right time.”
We want your feedback. Do you think it makes sense to have the same subscribers following you on social networks and on your email list? What are the pros and cons of this? We’d love to hear your feedback as comments on this post.