We exist in a best-practices driven industry. Email marketing has many variables and it’s a constantly changing landscape with ISPs and regulations changing rules on us on a consistent basis. We crave the tried-and-true rule, the best practice known to deliver the best result, the sure thing.
We have plenty to learn and use, to be sure! Search for "email marketing best practices" in Google, and you’ll find far more than you could ever digest among the search results.
Best practices for using social tools in email, however, are yet to be clearly defined. In fact, given the pace of change in social media, with constant Facebook updates and new technologies like Google+, these so-called best practices might forever elude us.
Those proven techniques we can turn to with confidence, however, are common sense and come from the email marketing world. Today I offer you four common-sense tips for using social tools that will help you maximize your results: 1) Offer great content. 2) Be very, very clear. 3) Test everything. 4) Go both ways.
Offer Great Content
No matter how much the email marketing industry changes, this common-sense tip will always be. And when you’re seeking sharing to social, your content has to be so great that people want to and willingly share it. That idea isn’t new. We’ve strived for "share worthy" content in the past. We had another name for it was all, because what we want back then was a forward. Now we want a share. Great content leads to greater use of your social media links by your subscribers who want to tell their network about your email.
Be Very, Very Clear
When you include social media buttons, be sure to ask for the action you want and let the person know why they should click. A plain, standalone Facebook button will garner only so many clicks compared to a Facebook button with words that ask for action and offer a benefit: "Like us on Facebook for fabulous fan pricing." Everybody knows what a Facebook button is, but not why they should click on it. Ditto for Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social media buttons.
In addition, words help you to be clear on the purpose of a button. A button for sharing is not the same as a button for liking, after all.
Also be sure to put the buttons where they make the most sense…for your subscribers. Figure out when/where in your email your subscribers are ready to take action. This you might only be able to determine by testing, which takes us to…
Is there a magic spot for your "like" button that will generate the highest number of new Facebook fans? Probably. Can I tell you where that is within your email? No. As far as best practices on technical details when using social media tools, these can only be determined by you. If I could sit here and tell you placing the Facebook icon in the lower right corner will drive the most "likes" on your Facebook wall, I would. But I can’t. It all depends. Testing is the only way to optimize placement of social media tools like a Facebook button for your particular business and audience. In fact, testing is the only way to optimize every aspect of your social media tools, from where you put the links to which links you offer. So test. Everything.
Go Both Ways
Yes, using email to drive subscribers to your social media sites or to share is smart marketing. Also be sure your email to social works as your social to email, as well. Your social sites can promote your email subscriptions and offer email signup forms.
And One Last Note…
Even when integrated as part of your marketing matrix and going both ways, email and social differ. And taking a customer relationship into the social realm can certainly alter customer expectations. Once you’ve crossed the social media line, you might need to revisit the tone and personality of your email communications. You’ve taken the relationship to a new level of intimacy via social channels, and using a corporate or more formal tone in your email marketing might run counter to the warm fuzzies a subscriber now feels for you.
Following these four tips should help you determine your own best practices for using social tools in email…meaning those practices which work best for you and your goals.
– Marco Marini