My Email + Social Prediction Report Card: Mostly As and Bs…and a D

With the new year upon us, I thought it would be a good idea to review the predictions I made last year about the integration of email and social in 2012. Have marketers made huge strides? Did my predictions miss the mark? Read on to find out. 

Wide Adoption of Community Links in Emails
While my prediction for more marketers including community links (like us, follow us) in their emails was correct, there are still marketers that don’t include these links in their templates. In addition, it is not uncommon for marketers to “set it and forget it” when it comes to standard components of an email template. Marketers need to be sure the included community links are working and are driving to social networks where your subscribers are active (is your audience really using StumbleUpon?). My grade? A

Viral Network Links in Email Decrease
My prediction that marketers would be more deliberate about including social sharing links in their emails appears to be true. In addition, marketers do appear to be slowly dropping formal Forward to a Friend functionality as well. According to research from user engagement platform Tynt, copy and paste is the sharing method of choice 82% of the time on the web. This is also a lesson for email marketers.  The key to sharable content is not necessarily the incorporation of sharing buttons and links, but to delivering emails your audience finds worthy of sharing (which they might just do the old fashion way – the forward button). My grade? A

Increased Social Cause Emails? 
In 2012, it doesn’t appear that email marketers and social media teams are working as closely as I predicted.  Without this tighter integration, it is harder for email marketers to support a company’s social cause campaign. For any campaigns to be truly successful (social cause or otherwise), multi-channel integration is required. My grade? C

Facebook and Twitter Still are Preferred Social Networks           
Facebook and Twitter still continue to be important social networks for email marketers, but I missed the Pinterest boat and its explosive growth in my 2012 predictions. In addition, my prediction that marketers would test Google+ focused campaigns proved to be wrong.  The Google+ social network has not been as important to email marketers as the more visually appealing Pinterest in 2012. Community links for Google+ are included in email templates at times, but Pinterest has been the most added community link to email templates in 2012. My grade? B

Email Collection on Social Networks?
According to the April 2011 Silverpop Mocial Survey, 38% of companies surveyed had plans to implement an email opt-in on Facebook. However, it appears 2012 did not turn into the year that marketers used social networks to grow their email lists. Rather, marketers used their email lists to grow their social networks. According to a recent StrongMail survey, 42% of respondents said they plan to increase email channel spend on social media channel growth. Instead, companies are focusing on social sign-on within their own web sites to increase conversion and the amount of data available for targeting. My grade? D

B2B Companies Slowly Adopting Social Media 
As I predicted, B2B marketers do seem to be slowly embracing social media in their marketing efforts and plan to do more so in 2013. According to Webmarketing123’s “State of Digital Marketing 2012 Report,” 41% of U.S. B2B marketers planned to increase their social marketing budgets in 2013. Email marketing budgets are also likely to increase. While the study from Strongmail (both B2B and B2C marketers) said that 55% of marketers plan to increase their email marketing budget, a study from Pardot finds that 65% of B2B companies are devoting less than 25% of their marketing budgets to email marketing. My grade? A

Small Businesses Embrace Social Media
According to a survey of marketers from small and medium-sized businesses conducted by Constant Contact in April–May 2012, companies that frequently used social media for marketing understood its importance, but considered it the area in which they needed the most help. So, while I predicted that SMB marketers would embrace integration tactics such as including community links in emails and running a stand-alone campaign promoting their social networks, it appears that these marketers still need help making the most of the social media channel.  My grade? B

Explosive Mobile Growth 
I went 50% on the mobile predictions. Mobile is exploding. eMarketer predicts 1.7 billion people around the world will access the Internet via a mobile device in 2013. And what activities are people participating in on these devices? Social and email. According to an analysis conducted in July 2012 by GfK Group , social networks and email accounted for almost 50% of internet activity on mobile devices. Data from Return Path also supports this. The latest Return Path mobile study showed mobile open rates have increase 300% between Oct ’10-Oct ’12.  So, while I got the explosive mobile growth prediction correct, marketers are still figuring out how to best optimize emails for mobile devices and take advantage of integrated campaigns that leverage all that mobile has to offer.  My grade? B

This column originally appeared in The Magill Report.