Can Social Help Grow Email Campaigns – or Is It Vice Versa?

Content Takeover Email MarketingMore and more companies are integrating their email and social channels with things like social icons, promoting mailing lists in posts, and providing incentives for consumers to share things. Does that mean marketers use their social media to grow their email campaigns?

Not really, according to Dave Hendricks, president of email advertising platform LiveIntent. Hendricks argues that while marketers can use Twitter Cards – which allow advertisers to attach rich media to tweets, drawing people to their websites – email is a much stronger medium.

“If someone signs up from social, will they open an email we send them? Will they click an email and will they buy from an email? Those are hard questions to answer,” Hendricks says. “Email is the best [source for email signups] because you’re getting known email users.”

He adds that it’s inherently difficult to grow your email list with social because platforms like Facebook and Twitter own their customer data and don’t allow their advertisers to use it for off-platform marketing. On the flip side, you can use a customer’s email address for customer relationship management retargeting, such as Facebook Custom Audiences and Twitter Tailored Audiences, on social media.

“That’s the best combination of email and social media,” Hendricks says. “You have the ability to bring your email addresses in a hashed form to these services for the purposes of reaching your customers when they’re spending time in social.”

David Yarus, founder of dating app JSwipe, primarily uses email addresses – which he acknowledges for their value as unique identifiers – that way. But unlike Hendricks, Yarus’ marketing is much more driven by social than email.

Yarus sees email, a medium in which marketers’ messages are often lost in spam filters, as a one-way communication channel, whereas social is more of a dialogue.

“I’m very thankful that people think [social is much less valuable than email]; because of that, there is the growing need for Millennial-minded marketing, which is basically that no one is checking email anymore and if they are, it’s an order to unsubscribe,” he says. “The idea is to create rich media dialogue, and reach and engage users where they are. I spend my time on Facebook, I spend my time on Instagram, I spend my time on Twitter. That’s where a marketer is going to reach me. I go on email to speak with family and friends or connect with my workplace. I’m not there to shop.”

Conversely, Adam Abrahami, head of the iris agency’s Concise division in New York, thinks social is inherently impersonal, while email is a direct one-on-one communication link.

“Social is a fantastic channel for mass reach and for brands to have a voice, but they are shouting amongst the crowd,” Abrahami says. “For me, the role of social in a specific one-to-one marketing way is to reach people, and eventually reel them in and capture their contact details so you can communicate with them one-to-one.”

Additionally, Abrahami points out that people generally keep the same email address, while social platforms go in and out of fashion. Facebook continues to grow – a recent earnings call showed a 42 percent increase in revenue year-over-year – but there were times when MySpace and Friendster were the popular platforms.

Rather than rank one over the other, Loretta Jones, vice president of marketing at CRM application Insightly, finds that social and email to ultimately be complementary mediums.

“People are so busy that they might see something in an email and get distracted, and then they’re perusing Facebook and they’ll say, ‘Oh, right.’ Maybe that will be the thing that will get you to click and come to our site and explore more,” she says. “Not everybody buys the same way, so you need to use all the tools that you have in your chest: email, social, display ads, whatever kind of digital tools you have.”

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