By Amanda Gagnon on March 9, 2011
Social plus email can drive more traffic
Email marketers have been scrambling to cope with the social Web - also called Web 2.0. It's a world where social sites like Twitter and Facebook pull people's attention away from conventional websites and Internet advertising.
In 2009, Wall Street Journal declared "the end of the email era." By the beginning of 2010, more than 70 percent of marketers considered "competition with social media for recipients' time and attention" an important challenge to their efforts, according to Marketing Sherpa's 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report. And in June 2010, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg declared that email was "probably going away."
So how should you adjust your online marketing and get more people to your website?
Try Email 2.0
Instead of worrying about social media sites, put them to work for your email campaign.
A 2009 Nielsen Company study actually indicated that "social media use makes people consume email more, not less...particularly for the highest social media users."
And in AWeber's 2010 survey, 33 percent of email marketers reported increasing their subscriber base by integrating social media and email marketing.
Draw Up a Plan for Email-Social Media Integration
First, pin down your strategy. What are your specific goals?
- Maybe you're trying to reach a wider audience.
- Or have informal conversations with your customers.
- You could even get feedback on your new products before launching them.
Once you know your primary goals, you'll be ready to move forward.
For more tips on building a social strategy, check out Groundswell authors Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li's 4-step approach.
Put It Into Action
Once you've got a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, try these moves to meet your goals and point your social network back to your emails.
- Occasionally, you may want to broadcast a brilliant newsletter beyond your email list. Show the Twitterverse the value of your email newsletters by tweeting a link to the version on your website. Put a sign-up form in the website version newsletter, and you'll probably get a few new email addresses to add to your list.
- Post an email sign-up form on your Facebook fan page. Your fans' Facebook friends will see any comments they post about you, and potential new fans can also find your Facebook page via search. When these new prospects click over to your page, a sign-up form instantly invites them to join your email list.
- People who start following you via social media need a reason to subscribe by email, too. Make your sign-up form clearly visible on your site, and try offering an extra incentive for signing up.
- You aren't the only one who can hype your campaign: Your readers can, too. Placing buttons in your emails that allow people to share them on social networks can help promote your message - and give you a chance to go viral.
- Track the chitchat. Run a search on the social sites listed below to find out where people are talking about you - and what they're saying. Respond where appropriate, and link to helpful pages on your site or relevant blog posts. And make sure there's an invitation to your email newsletter on every one of those pages. Bonus: Not only do these searches reveal which sites to focus on, they can also be full of ideas for fresh newsletter content!
- Facebook has long offered the ability to host a custom application for your fan page. Now you can have your application either request or require users to sign up for your emails. These opt-in email addresses can then be imported to your email list.
- For a closer relationship, show as much interest in your subscribers as you ask them to show in you. Invite them to share their user name for the social network of their choice. Then pay attention to what they say, and respond to them from time to time. This level of engagement is rare, and will mark you out as especially caring towards your followers - and that will be noticed, even by non-followers.
The essence of marketing is to be seen frequently. When you give people the chance to see you in multiple places - various social networks, email newsletters, your website - you'll be more present in their minds. And instead of an email automaton, they'll see you as a real person.