Wednesday’s Word of the Week – SOCIAL

Posted by Tom Sather on

A Weekly Round-Up Of What Email Marketers Are Talking About

I scoured all the blogs and news sites for the past week to look for certain trends in the email industry.  The past week had one clear subject winner: social.

Social and email should go together like peanut butter and chocolate.  Social can help marketers grow their email lists, spread content, help define relevant email content, as well as provide another trigger point for behavior-based email automation.  Most articles about email make social and email seem like cats and dogs with the apparent lack of integration between the two channels.    But is it really that bad?

Not at all.

eMarketer showed some interesting statistics from a recent Pitney Bowes survey among Small and Medium Business Owners that the holy grail of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Social Email Cup is getting closer to reality. Social marketing’s ease of use and cost effectiveness is now almost on par with email, but it still fell behind email, advertising and direct mail for proven effectiveness.  I don’t think that’s anything to get too alarmed at.  As social matures, so will its ability to track and measure ROI and effectiveness.  I remember all too well the same debate back in the early days of email marketing.  Hardly anyone was even using email as an effective marketing tool back then, and so it appears to be the case with using social and email together today.

Anuradha Shukla from Small Biz Technology cites Tink Taylor of dotMailer saying lack of obvious improvements in email marketing effectiveness over the past two years is due to the lack of email and social integration. Shukla also states that only 26% of campaigns even include a social media link, which is an easy way to share content to subscriber’s social networks outside of the inbox.

My colleagues Julia Peavy and Stephanie Colleton performed an unofficial study on social integration with email and saw similar results, with only 25% of their emails including a “share with your network” icon. Julia Peavy reminds us that the marriage of social and email is more than just adding icons, and stresses the importance of worthy, easy and beneficial to share content.

In Gretchen Scheiman’s EmailInsider column,  she also notes the similarity of social marketing to the early days of email marketing with a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon without really knowing what to do or how to measure it.  She also recommends moving beyond the “like” button and getting insight from the social team at your company, testing social marketing ideas and strategies with help from your in-house analytics team to see what works. She also warns to be aware of potential privacy issues that might arise and to tap your privacy advocates for help.

In my recent AMA webinar, I advised marketers to use social, like Facebook, for their email acquisition goals.  I was surprised to read a Silverpop study which found that brands are missing out on this integration with only 10% of marketers actually including an email opt-in mechanism on their Facebook page.    The not so surprising part of the report showed that email subscribers outnumbered Facebook “likes” by 70-to-1 and outnumbered Twitter followers 90-to-1.   Even if social marketing matures enough to be effective, it will never have the direct reach that email will have.

ESP MailChimp, one of the first platforms to allow for the Facebook Like button to be included with email content, is also is trying to make this easier for their customers to acquire email addresses on Facebook pages.  Through a partnership with Virtue, marketers can use a module to add an email registration tab to their Facebook pages.  The email sign-up page can then be incorporated into their database which can allow for automated segmentation and customized emails based on things like language or location.

If anything the recent trend this week shows social isn’t standing over email’s bed with a pillow, but it absolutely needs email to continue to grow and thrive.  Email is proven to be effective, is less fragmented than social, and has a wider, more loyal reach than social will ever have, and it will only get better with continued integration and automation with social channels.

What word has been on your mind this week?


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About Tom Sather

Email data and deliverability expert Tom Sather has worked with top-tier brands to diagnose and solve inbox placement and sender reputation issues as a strategic consultant with Return Path. As the company’s senior director of research, Tom is a frequent speaker and writer on email marketing trends and technology. His most recent analysis of new inbox applications’ effects on consumer behavior was widely cited across leading business media outlets including the Financial Times, Ad Age, and Media Post.

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