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The Socialization of Email Marketing

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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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110 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “The Socialization of Email Marketing”

  1. Dara Bell says:

    I think the email marketing and other connections is okay as it is permission based marketing. We are opting in.

  2. Excellent post (My first time here..) I agree, the country where I live even the national railway company has their own Facebook group.I think it is funny how this social media thing has gone mad.What are companies doing with thousands of “friends” on social sites? Is it just for marketing purposes? Social sites were meant to be places where people share useful information.

  3. MoshiToshi says:

    Its still kind of funny when you think of the fact that there were a lot of articles about “social media will kill e-mail” a few months ago. And now it appeared that e-mailmarketing and social media can go hand in hand, and there can be a correlation between the both of them. Even Strongmail wrote an article about it this month

  4. deb says:

    It would be great if you would add ShareThis icon to your blog. It's much easier to use. Thanks.

  5. stuartgardner says:

    “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.”

    Great question Brian, and one that I have a potential answer for.

    When it comes to using social media for marketing, I have a different view to most. As you said, companies set up fan pages and publish information to Twitter as a means of mass marketing. But nobody seems to address the issue of using social media for direct marketing.

    Excuse the self-plug, but my company (Comufy) does exactly this. We allow companies to use social media channels (instant messengers, social networks, Twitter) as direct marketing channels. This makes sense to me as companies can still engage in one-on-one conversations across social media channels.

    I would be interested in hearing your feedback on this.



  6. abiclowes says:

    An awesome post Brian – at Pure360 we've been trying to encourage our customers to make the link between email and social for a while and not just with the physical 'share this' link but with an actual compelling reason for people to share their messages. Now all we need are marketers to start doing so…

    PS. I'd also love to see more B2B marketers engaging in this practice, it's not just consumers who can benefit – those of us in an office like a media of dual channel action too!


  7. annejaa says:

    So good information!E-mail marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools you can use in your business to bring new customers into the fold and for your current customers and also it keeps your business name and your products front and center. Most importantly, since the e-mails are sent to a list of people who've subscribed to them, this makes them the opposite of unwanted spam,e-mail forms a targeted marketing effort that can pay off handsomely.

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  8. James says:

    A very detailed analysis. Can I re-publish the article on my blog Let me know if you are fine. There will be linked to the original source.

  9. sandip123 says:

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