Social media isn’t replacing email, it’s complementing it, argues Jon Maddison, UK Country Director, Epsilon International.
Every marketing channel has its strengths and limitations. Social media is the channel du jour with many benefits; messages are considered non obtrusive, trusted and are in real time. But on the downside you cannot control what gets promoted. If your message is uninspiring then your followers will not choose to relay it to their friends. And as you cannot tailor each message to the end recipient, as you can with direct marketing channels, marketers are often limited to putting out generic, vanilla-flavoured content.
The key is to use your marketing channels in a complementary way. By communicating with your customers through your email channel you can trigger advocates to share your content with their peers on social media, who in turn, if they like what you have to say, can sign up to receive future tailored email messages from you, thus completing the cycle.
And this approach overcomes social media’s biggest challenge, measurability. Imagine the scenario, a compelling offer for a must-have product is emailed to 100 recipients. Recipients that like the offer are invited to post it to their Facebook page and to provide an incentive, they will be entered into a competition to win the product.
The poster’s friends repeat this process, generating a healthy stream of new acquisitions for the company’s email programme along the way. And, thanks to website analytics, take-up of the product offer is trackable, so the marketer can calculate return on investment for that campaign. But, best of all, we can now track ongoing purchases from our original recipient’s friends. By persuading them to sign up for the email programme, we now have a means of tracking their ongoing behaviour for the first time. With the source of these new customers now correctly attributed to social media, calculating ongoing returns from your social media marketing programme is possible.
Too often we see short term investment in social media. Too many ‘brand building’ Facebook pages get abandoned when marketing resources become overstretched. The same with Twitter. But by using their marketing channels in a complementary way marketers can learn to let their existing brand advocates do the work, making their spend go further.
Email is a successful channel for many reasons, but two of its key advantages are that it’s low cost and measurable. If you can learn to apply these assets to your social media marketing you are on to a winner. Where email is hard sell, social is soft – when the two disciplines are integrated you have a compelling partnership.
By Jon Maddison
UK Country Director
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