A lot of great discussion continues to circulate around the camaraderie between email and social marketing - how do the two work together to complement each other? What are the strategies you should employ to get the most out of both? Everyone has an idea about how to make social email work, but the truth is that there's no one solution.
One way to determine where you should be focusing your efforts is to look at the opportunity based on the size of your business. Let's take a look at issues companies face as they grow and develop an effective integrated marketing program:
Small Business: Relying Too Heavily on Facebook
Too often, because of budget constraints and resource issues, small businesses may rely too heavily on social networks, Facebook in particular. Yes, Facebook can be highly effective. So what are the risks? Here's one cautionary tale - something that a friend of mine is going through today.
My friend…we'll call him Steve…owns a local gym. Thanks to a very successful LivingSocial promotion about a year ago, he acquired over 100 new customers. And, he's been using email (good job, Steve!), including a well-received four-stage welcome series, to succeed at what many businesses that use group buying sites fail to do - turn bargain hunters into repeat customers and build profitable, ongoing relationships.
But here's where the problem arose: the tail end of Steve's welcome series encouraged early gym membership renewal and drove the customers to his Facebook page where he featured recipes, workouts, tips for staying healthy, and more. Notice I'm speaking in the past tense here. That's because, one day, Facebook shut down all three of Steve's fan pages. He got a note claiming that his company name was infringing upon a trademarked phrase. The trademark was owned by, of all things, a government entity - the U.S. military, to be exact. Because Steve has been doing business under this name since before the trademark was filed by the military, he was allowed to hold on to his gym name. But he's still working to get Facebook to allow his gym's fan pages.
Medium-Sized Brands: Who Owns Social?
In many respects, medium-sized businesses are best positioned to leverage the one-two punch that email and social can deliver together. However, I do see many mid-sized brands that struggle with determining who owns social media on their teams. If you're the email marketer and you also own your company's social program, you should be using the two together, particularly for key campaigns. Here are some tips:
If different folks in your organization own email and social, the good news is that your business is likely agile enough to allow your two teams to coordinate efforts where it makes the most sense. Again, prioritize key campaigns.
Enterprise Companies: Break Down the Silos
Many enterprise brands already have email and social programs that are robust and effective. So in this case, the issues usually center on poor integration between the two. Because the email teams are often separate, it can be more challenging to coordinate efforts and build truly integrated campaigns. Additionally, since social and email teams may compete for budget and attention, there may be relationship challenges to overcome. My advice to the enterprise companies that we work with that face these issues is to tear down the walls! Start by using the tips outlined above. Once you can show the positive short- and long-term impact of an effective social email program, you'll be ahead of most of your competitors and you'll get attention from your C-suite.
Regardless of the size of your business, my hope is that you'll walk away with these two important takeaways: first and foremost, you need an effective social email program - you can see just how well the channels can complement one another and truly enhance the experience your customers have with your brand and your program. Additionally, each example above shows that the key to success when it comes to social email is balance. Your customers are using multiple channels to connect with your brand. That means that you should not rely too heavily on any single channel - especially not, as my friend Steve can attest, channels that you can't fully control.
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A 12-year email marketing veteran, Kara has been actively involved in programmatic email development, execution, and strategy in a variety of senior positions on the client, agency, and provider side. Most recently, Kara was founder and principal of The Email Advisor, a respected email marketing consultancy focusing on email strategy and channel optimization. Prior to launching The Email Advisor, Kara led strategic services for the email division of Premiere Global Services, where she worked with global organizations structuring a variety of custom email education programs, conceptualizing and implementing new and innovative email programs, optimizing contact strategies, and developing staffing and budget plans.
March 19, 2014