Email and social media can be a powerful combination. In order to really get the most value out of both channels, it’s important to look at them as complementary elements that speak to each other, creating a whole picture that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Cross-channel marketing is about aligning your branding, messaging, offers, and timing across multiple delivery points; for many brands, the two most effective channels to align are email and social media.
Start with the Basics
When you start integrating social media and email marketing, you’ll likely want to include links to your social networks. But what kind of links? There’s a difference between sharing and connecting on social media.
- Sharing: These links make it possible for your subscribers to share the email or (or a part of it) with their social network. For example, if you included a surprising statistic in an email, you could include a link to “Tweet this fact!” This is a good way to get more visibility for your brand and possibly acquire new leads as well. According to SocialTimes, adding social sharing buttons to email messages increases click-through rates by more than 150%.
- Connecting: This is where you ask your email recipients to follow your brand on LinkedIn, follow you on Twitter, Like your Facebook page, subscribe to your YouTube channel, and so on. For example, if you send an email with a link to an educational video, you might encourage your readers to subscribe to your YouTube channel to get more valuable videos. It’s a great way to deepen your relationship with your customers and prospects.
No matter what type of social link you’re providing, you need to make sure the value of sharing or connecting with your brand is very clear right up front, and that you’re using the social media platforms that make the most sense for your audience.
Avoiding Email + Social Mistakes
Of course, it can be easy to go wrong with social media – and when you do, the word spreads quickly. Companies just getting started with social often make mistakes that are easy to avoid, but the important thing to remember is to be honest and open about them, very quickly, instead of trying to cover up. Because, somehow, that rarely seems to work.
Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when combining social media with email marketing:
- Driving to a Facebook (or other) page that doesn’t reflect the branding and design of your company. If a recipient clicks on a link in your email and lands on a social media page that looks entirely different from your website, they may think the link misdirected them to the wrong page. It will be a jarring experience, and they’ll likely just click away. Some marketers think that Facebook is the place to go crazy and really let their personality shine. But does your type of crazy actually reflect your company? If you want to do something entirely different, make sure your email design reflects it as well, so it’s a smooth, predictable transition between your message and social media.
- Always using social media to sell something. Your customers and prospects aren’t on Twitter because they’re shopping. They’re sharing. They’re learning and connecting. So if you spend all your time on social media shouting about how great your products and services are, you’ll alienate people pretty quickly. If someone has signed up for your promotional emails, that’s great. But once they click the link over to a social site, they’re probably not expecting the hard sell. Use that opportunity to give them content that’s useful and interesting, and gradually lead them to your website for deeper engagement and the chance to buy.
- Not listening or responding to customers. This is a common problem because most companies like to handle problems or complaints quietly and quickly. But sometimes that’s not possible, and if someone is airing a legitimate issue with your organization in a public social forum, it’s up to you to respond fast and do it in a transparent way, in the same channel. Email marketing is (usually) a one-way communication channel, and people expect to listen to you when you send them a message. But social media is a dialog, and it needs to be an interactive one. If you use it to broadcast messages and you tune out every response, your audience will start to tune you out as well. You want to be remembered for customer service like Zappos, not United Airlines.
- Letting your social site become a ghost town. The only thing worse than a company with zero presence on major social media sites in one with an out-of-date presence. A Facebook page that hasn’t been updated since they added pictures of the company picnic … two years ago. A Pinterest page with a few product photos from last year’s catalog. A LinkedIn page where the HR manager still posts job openings – and that’s about it. Once you’ve decided to invest in a social media presence, continue to do it, and make it a priority. If you find that your customers aren’t actually using Pinterest, that’s fine; stop posting. But don’t keep linking to your now-silent board in every email you send – the customers who click through will see how little effort you’ve put in to maintaining your presence.
- Starting too many places at once. Once you decide to integrate social media with your emails, it’s tempting to try to jump into every channel at the same time. But there are hundreds of social media networks around the world, and trying to join all of them (or even 10 of them) at once is a recipe for disaster. Rather, focus on one or two as you get started, and go where your customers and prospects already are. Be sure to do your research before you dive in. Ask your customers where they spend their social time. Coming on strong on Facebook won’t do you much good if most of your target audience is hanging out on Pinterest.
Once you get it right, social media can be a powerful ally for your email marketing campaigns. For example, it’s often a great way to introduce strangers to a landing page on your website where you invite them to sign up to receive your emails. Or you could direct people to a new infographic or quiz, taking them another step along a lead conversion path.
- Use Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other social sites to announce discounts and special offers. When you ask visitors for their email address, provide the opportunity for these potential subscribers to opt into your list. (Just don’t use a pre-checked opt-in box.)
- If you have a regular newsletter, post a link to it on your social sites to drive traffic (and subscriptions).
- Repurpose content from your newsletter on social sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, then link back to a newsletter archive as well as a landing page where visitors can sign up to get the email.
- Whenever you provide a subscription page or preference center to your email subscribers, be sure to include the opportunity to follow and connect with your brand through social channels as well.
Remember to include the benefits of signing up for your email or connecting with your organization through social media. Because if you can’t think of a benefit, your audience won’t be able to either – and that means they’ll unfollow, dislike, and unsubscribe in a hurry.
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