Email and social media are a lot more similar than they are different. Both are used to drive brand affinity and brand preference. Both are best when rooted in 1:1, relevant communication, rather than one-to-many, megaphone-style shouting.
Based on these similarities, I believe the people responsible for social media in your company, should also be the people in charge of email, and vice versa. Why are we segmenting and separating our customer communication methods?
You’re already seeing this convergence at the tactical level, with email service providers enabling active social sharing in emails using Share This and other tools. It’s like Forward to a Friend 2.0. Not life-changing, but it’s a start down the path toward channel agnosticism, where we can communicate with customers and prospects in the time, method, and style of THEIR choosing, not ours as marketers.
I was on a panel about email and social media at the recently completed ExactTarget Connections 09 Conference in Indianapolis. Tim Schigel, CEO of Share This, and Bill McCloskey, Chairman of Email Datasource joined me on the panel, which was moderated by the always-great Jeff Rohrs from ExactTarget.
Tim and Bill talked about sharing via email, and the history, mechanics and predictions for that capability. I focused on other ways (beyond sharing) that email and social media can work together.
I’ve included my slides below, as well as a summary of my main points.
11 Steps Toward Social Media and Email Convergence
- Good email and good social media are similar.
- Bad email and bad social media are similar.
- Best practice for both is relevancy.
- Email and social media should be managed by the same group in your company.
- Socially enabling your email is great, but you need to socially enable your landing pages too, using Facebook Fanbox, RSS subscription options, Share This and other tools.
- You must activate your customers, not just collect them
- Old marketing was like archery. New marketing is like ping pong.
- “Special” doesn’t always have to be followed by “Offer”. You can and should engage with customers in ways that transcend coupons and discounts.
- You typically will interact with customers more frequently in social media than you will in email. Thus, you can use social media content and results to inform your email program. Use Facebook Analytics, PageRank and other tools to find your best social media content.
- You can segment your database using social media, too. Track subscriptions to your email program coming from social media, for example.
- Consider collecting social data (Facebook account, Twitter handle, etc.) on your subscription forms.
(disclosure: ExactTarget is a Convince & Convert client. I attended this conference for free. I drank a lot of their booze)