The Socialization of Email Marketing

Follow me on Twitter! Become a fan on Facebook!

It seems that everywhere you turn, businesses, media properties, and brands are asking us to connect with them in the social Web. Whether it’s on TV, in press materials, advertising, or email, brands are vying for our “friendship.”

In July 2009, Bill McCloskey in partnership with StrongMail, analyzed the email marketing campaigns of top brands and how they integrated social profiles into the marketing presentation. McCloskey observed that top brands were reviving email campaigns with the inclusion of links to social profiles, specifically Facebook, Twitter, and also MySpace.

McCloskey reported that top brands such as Nike, Intel, The Gap, Pepsi, Sony, HP, Home Depot, Lane Bryant, Circuit City, Saks Fifth Avenue, Polo Ralph Lauren, Lands’ End, and J.C. Penney included Social Media within email marketing messages. As expected, since 2007, the number of email campaigns that contained links to Facebook and Twitter dramatically increased, becoming the two most prominent links integrated in all email marketing initiatives in 2009. As of June, the number of campaigns that included a link to the branded Twitter account grew to 41,399, with 41,052 for Facebook.

As 2009 gave way to a new decade, the StrongMail team published an updated report, “2010 Marketing Trends.” The survey documented that nine in 10 planned to either increase or maintain their marketing budgets in twenty ten (2010).  And what was at the top of the list? Email marketing… What was second? Social Media…

Reviewing the list of marketing programs that will benefit from increased commitments, it seems that almost every element for generating presence through outbound and inbound marketing is set to expand this year – and most likely over the next several years. The democratization of media and the equalization of influence require brands to reassess their strategies and objectives for earning attention, steering perception, and growing a community of loyal customers and advocates.

Marketing Programs Expected to Receive Increased Budgets

69% – Email marketing

59% – Social media

42% – Search

28% – Advertising

22% – Mobile

21% – Direct mail

20% – Tradeshows and events

19% – Public relations

While marketers believe that customers will increase their spending in 2010, conservative and skeptical executives are also reducing programs that don’t align with adapted ambitions…

The socialization of email marketing will continue to fuse social networks and the inbox until one day, they become one. After all, email is technically the largest, untapped, social network in the world.

According to the report, over 40% of executives plan on integrating social and email marketing in 2010. How that expands beyond the obvious “follow me” or “become our fan” on Twitter and Facebook intrigues me.

Thankfully, StrongMail asked the question that needed to be asked…

Are you planning to integrate Social Media into your email marketing campaigns in 2010?

27% – Yes, we have formulated a strategy and have already implemented our program

24% – Yes, we have formulated a strategy and are researching tools for implementation

18% – Yes, but we don’t know where to start

11% – No, but it sounds intriguing

5% – No, I don’t see the value in integrating email marketing with social media

11% – I don’t know

4% – Other

Once integrated programs are deployed, measurement dictates the future of our social programming. 42% of executives reported a lift in email campaign performance after integrating social and email, 35% realized zero improvement, and 23% aren’t sure how to measure their results.

Clearly, there is room for growth, education, and evolution. Over 50% of marketers believe they are on the right track and already either have plans to execute or directives to discover solutions to place into effect. But again, simply asking people to friend or follow us is not enough. We must convey a sense of purpose and define and spotlight the rewards for clicking through to our points of designation. There must be life beyond the connection. We must package and deliver an experience, cultivated by a series of calls to action. It is through the definition of action that provides us with the foundation to establish and measure activity.

And as we’re already realizing, traditional email isn’t the only form of “email marketing.” Many service providers are automating the ability to mass-broadcast content to the inboxes of fans on Facebook and followers on Twitter.

With Social Media comes great responsibility…

Sometimes the ability to connect and inspire action is driven less by quantity and cultivated through an informed, targeted, and genuine outreach program where less is indeed more.

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ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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