With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, one relationship that is really beginning to blossom is the one between email and social media. Kara Trivunovic, senior director of strategic services at StrongMail explains how integrating the two mediums can be a match made in heaven, when it comes to generating revenue.
Five years ago, ‘the social network’ didn’t mean much to anybody, least of all business professionals. Today, its common practice even in Los Angeles where it’s become a major Hollywood film.
But although social media has permeated all elements of popular culture, the issue of how to actually make it turn a profit remains unresolved.
For so many companies, the attitude towards social media appears to be posting an occasional tweet, creating a Facebook page, and simply hoping that customers will get involved. Many brands shy away from social media because of the fear their fans and followers may say something negative or turn on them.
However, this emerging channel cannot be ignored, least of all by marketers who want to make the most of their campaigns. The answer to strengthening customer bonds and turning social media into a profitable channel lies in the intelligent use of your email subscriber database.
If you use email to take an active role in first listening to your customers, acquiring them as fans and finally engaging them to promote your content then the trust of your online community will be greatly enhanced, and the world of social media will finally begin to pay dividends.
Increase Email Subscribers/Optimise Reach/Grow Revenue
Sometimes you can apply one tactic to reach multiple objectives. Whether you are trying to grow your subscriber database, grow awareness or grow revenue you are going to rely on your existing subscribers to do the work for you. Refer-a-friend, member-get-a-member, advocacy—whatever you call it—that’s what we’re doing here.
What you need to do first is a little data diving: identify those in your database who are likely to evangelise on your behalf. That could mean your most frequent purchasers, those most engaged in your email programme or brand, or anything in between. The first step is to find them.
Next, you need to incentivise these customers. What will it take to encourage them to tell their friends and networks about their experience with you? To find this out you may need to experiment, survey them, give them test offers, etc. By doing so you can put your finger on their pulse, helping you to drive the desired behaviour. Last, ask them to do exactly what you want them to do. “Tell your friends to subscribe for…” “Tell your friends about us.” “Tell your friend about your recent purchase and all the money you saved.” You get the picture.
Grow Your Facebook and Twitter Presence
Again, two birds—one stone. Trying to match your subscribers to your fans or followers can be difficult to do. But what if you just ask your subscribers? Really, ask them to follow you on Twitter or fan you Facebook. Offer and incentivise and always include something fun and off the cuff for those who already do.
For example, “If you are already a fan, you know what great recipes, reviews and information you can find. Let us know what you think and how we can make it even better.” This gives your existing fans a feedback mechanism so their voices can be heard. The key is to make your value proposition very clear and differentiate what your subscribers get from you on Facebook, on Twitter and via email. You need to provide a real reason for them to engage with you in all of these channels—not just tell the same story in all three places.
Increase the Relevance of Your Email Programme
This one sounds a little less obvious than the others, but it is just as real. Your customers are out there talking about you, your brand and your service in the social sphere. They are providing a brutally honest peek into how they really feel about you. And you owe it to them to listen.
If you notice a common theme or topic emerging frequently, then there is likely something to it. You may want to actually incorporate it in your content—a little tidbit that could really bring the story full circle.
You may have noticed that we didn’t cover the basics like: Include a “post to Facebook” option in your email so recipients can easily share an offer, or the standard “share with your network” link that exists in the header just next to the “forward to a friend” button.
While these are, by definition, social components integrated into your email programme, they don’t necessarily drive a lot of activity. Realistically, if your subscribers want to share your email content, they will hit the forward button in their email client or copy and paste a link and stick it on Twitter or Facebook.
So, as you begin turning social media into a profit through email, remember to:
1. Define your goals and objectives (you’ll never get to your desired destination if you don’t know where you want to go);
2. Identify the right subscribers to get the message (while we would love to believe that all of our customers love us enough to talk about us—it’s just not realistic); and
3. Employ the right tactic to meet that goal (the quickest way from point A to point B).
It’s about finding the right combination for your customer and your business.
Getting to grips with a social media strategy need only be a few simple steps away. In taking these, brands can finally lift the lid of social media’s profitability and turn it into a channel that returns true ROI. It must not be forgotten that social media is an evolving platform that continually changes and improves; no one person can possibly keep up with the new developments and capabilities that emerge each day. But by partnering with the right marketing experts and technology enablers, you will successfully engage your fans and equip your brand with a unique, and profitable, new tool.
By Kara Trivunovic
Senior director of strategic services