Plenty of ink has been spilled in the ongoing social vs. email marketing debate. The conversation often concludes with a concession that both channels have pros and cons, and as appropriate, marketers should use both.
But in general, ‘use both’ still means separately. The mantra: ‘use email for this and social for that’ is outdated. The fact is, social and email campaigns aren’t a zero sum game and don’t need to exist in silos.
When marketers integrate social and email, the most popular tactics are elementary at best (e.g. adding social buttons in email). However, this just sends people off to a standalone social channel, rather than harnessing the power of social to make an otherwise boring email more interesting.
Supercharging your email with social media isn’t technically hard. It does however require a shift from a channel-oriented mindset to one focused more on content. Here are 5 tips and examples of how marketers can have their cake and eat it too by simply baking social content right into their email.
1. Think Visually
One reason certain social channels drive massive engagement is because of their visual nature. Pictures provoke visceral reactions, and when authentic, can be a highly effective marketing tool.
One idea is to build a live Instagram feed right into your email. For example, Hyatt showcased its properties with user-generated content under the banner ‘See How Others Make the Most of @Hyatt’.
Feeding live social imagery into email doesn’t just make the email more interesting, it shows potential guests why they should follow Hyatt on Instagram (vs. just having the button that says ‘follow us’)…and might even give them some ideas for their next vacation.
2. Leverage the ‘Second Screen’
Integrating social and email to highlight a brand’s live televised event can work well given that so many people use multiple devices while watching TV. When consumers look at their phones and check email during a commercial or after they switch TV channels, a message with live social content can keep them up to date with the event in real time.
Nickelodeon used live Twitter and Instagram feeds in an email during the Kids’ Choice Awards. This allowed people who weren’t at the event or watching it at home to still keep up to date with the latest developments all in one place.
3. Build a Social Hub with Loyal Customers
Word-of-mouth marketing is any brand’s greatest ally. It’s a proven fact that people are influenced positively or negatively by the testimonials of their peers.
One of the most effective ways to generate positive word-of-mouth is to mobilize your current loyal customer base. Brands using a specific loyalty hashtag across social channels can pull associated content into a loyalty email and provide a social call-to-action right in the message.
Dunkin’ Donuts sent out a loyalty email that showcased Instagram photos and tweets in a live gallery around their DDPerks hashtag. This social hub essentially turned the email into a real-time customer testimonial machine.
4. Employ Deep Links
Deep links (links that can drive people to a specific piece of content or action) can be an important driver of engagement – especially in today’s mobile age, where people are opening emails anywhere and anytime across any channel.
Ivivva leveraged tip one above by providing a live Instagram feed into their email for the trending hashtag #ivivvaspirit. But then they went one step further by inserting a deep link to the Twitter app with a pre-populated tweet using the #ivivvaspirit hashtag that consumers could click and auto share their love of the brand with their followers.
5. Encourage Offline Participation
Driving online engagement is great for any brand – especially if it leads to a sale or some type of other desired commercial transaction (e.g. download app, enter contest, sign up for newsletter). But for many marketers, driving offline activity (e.g. visit a physical store, attend an event) with their digital content is a vital measure of success.
These offline activities don’t always need to be linked directly to the brand’s bottom line though. Starbucks, well known for its CSR campaigns, used a live Twitter feed to promote its Global Month of Service. Here, people could share their stories using the hashtag #extrashotofgood, all in an effort to encourage and motivate others to find and participate in a community service project.
The Inbox as a Content Hub
The secret sauce to keeping emails relevant and interesting is data. By uniting all channels and pulling from different data sources, including social, email can become a central hub for customer experience. This hub can enhance and enrich the singular customer experience, which in turn can drive significant engagement and hard ROI conversion metrics.
How are you combining the power of social and email?
Miles Williams is the CMO of Movable Ink. Miles is focused on telling the Movable Ink story to brands that want to create faster, smarter, and more measurable email programs. Connect with Miles on Twitter: @milescwilliams.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.