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More than the sum of its parts: integrating email, social and SMS

Email, SMS or social? The answer is all three.

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A recent McKinsey study compared the effectiveness of email and social marketing and concluded that email was 40 times better at acquiring customers than Twitter and Facebook combined.

Bear in mind the increased time and effort involved in social media marketing and you might be forgiven for thinking it’s hardly worth bothering.

But in fact, channels such as social and SMS can be highly synergistic with email marketing, as marketing professionals are increasingly realizing. In a survey last year, 56% of them told research firm MarketingSherpa that they were integrating social media with their email marketing campaigns and 8% were integrating SMS.

What does this mean in practice?

Integrate teams and data

At the very least, your social media and email teams should be collaborating closely — the people responsible for content should be a consistent group. Similarly, your customer database should include information on which social media platform each person uses. This allows you to send out complementary messages or to target customers through their preferred channel.

Include social icons in emails

This is the simplest form of integration, allowing your customers to follow you on Twitter or ‘like’ your Facebook page. You can also ask customers to share the content of an email. Make it crystal clear what you’re asking them to do — simply slapping buttons on a message will have little effect. And give them an incentive, such as offering a coupon in return for a share.

It’s even worth adding social media icons to your email unsubscribe page: many people who don’t want a cluttered inbox may be happy to browse messages via social media.

Use social to capture email subscribers

Similarly, you can use social media to share links to web-based versions of your emails, and drive email or SMS signups by embedding a signup form as one of your apps. Competitions or surveys will encourage customers to do this.

Integrate messages

Testing subject lines, offers, images and formats from emails can help you craft more effective social media posts. Incorporate your most popular email content into social media status updates and tease upcoming emails on Twitter.

Rather, it’s a good idea to make it clear that some offers are restricted to a single channel by sending an email flagging a social competition, for example. It all increases engagement.

Use SMS

According to Juniper Research, 97 percent of text messages are read by the phone owner — 90 percent in the first six minutes after delivery. It’s a very immediate method of communication — perfect for flash sales, for example — and while texts cost money to send, as do emails, texts are more immediate to the customer.

Clearly, using SMS means having the customer’s phone number — but emails, social media offers or competitions can incentivize people to provide it. After all, SMS is popular with consumers: a recent report from RadiumOne found that 42 percent of women in the US prefer SMS-based promotions to receiving digital coupons any other way. Other people, however, find SMS marketing intrusive as mobile phones are a particularly personal channel — in these instances, email would serve better.

Conclusion

As we have seen, while email may generate more customers than social media alone, a successful integration of the two will lead to greater overall success for your business.

  • Email works better in conjunction with social media campaigns.
  • It is useful to embed social media buttons into your emails.
  • Incorporating your successful email content in your social media updates leads to a more aligned campaigned.
  • Use SMS only when it is appropriate to your audience.

Find out how best to target your customers. Read Miss Congeniality: how to give your email marketing campaigns a winning personality

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