Integrating Social Media with Email Marketing

    April 22, 2009
    Chris Crum

A recent study from Ball State University, the Email Marketer’s Club and ExactTarget found that only 13% of email marketers are integrating social media into their campaigns. However, 46% of them intend to do so this year.

The study surveyed 351 email marketers and researched the habits of large brands like Carmex, TripAdvisor, and Papa John’s. Each of these has been successful in their efforts to include social media sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Digg in their campaigns.

Papa John's on Facebook

"While the global reach, rapid adoption and high engagement found in social media have email marketers salivating at the potential these environments offer to engage with customers and prospects, the real challenge is how best to facilitate meaningful interactions," says Morgan Stewart, ExactTarget’s director of research and strategy.

Giving users some variety is probably a smart choice for starters. That’s what Carmex does for example.

"We want visitors to share the experience with their friends, but we don’t want to force them to use a channel they are uncomfortable with,” said Paul Woelbing, president of Carma Labs, the maker of Carmex. "By offering visitors choices, we are learning a lot about the dynamics of integrating email, social media and text messaging – namely that they complement each other very well."

Still, users may not be so high on the idea of letting brands into their social media hang out sites. "Consumers are reluctant to invite marketers into social environments, and this is because they don’t want to see the channel overrun with irrelevant commercial messages," says Stewart. "However, marketers who are able to align their messaging with the distinct mindset of consumers engaging in social networks are posting positive results and building a quality following in these environments."

This reminds me of something Hulu CEO Jason Kilar talked about in his keynote at ad:tech. He discussed effective magazine ads, which people don’t even realize are ads.

On another related note, there is an interesting aricle at the SimplyCast blog discussing specifically the integration of Facebook into email marketing campaigns. You may find this worth looking at. Also, ExactTarget actually has a social email solution it just unveiled at ad:tech called Social Forward.