Back when Facebook and Twitter first emerged, there were many predictions that social media and email would never be destined for a long term relationship. Many assumed that social would spell the end for email, with the two unable to live together in the evolving world of marketing. Fast-forward to 2016 and that’s far from true, with email communications as popular as ever alongside the ever-growing social media landscape.

Despite first impressions, social and email are a better match than many people think. You could even say email was the first form of social media – allowing people to share content, connect and give feedback online. Despite the similarities, in many marketing teams, those responsible for email and social media still work in silos meaning it’s difficult to ensure a happy relationship between the two channels. And yet today’s Hyper-Connected Consumer doesn’t think in channels, so why should your marketing team? Marketing efforts should break free of this rigid mindset to become truly channel-agnostic, in a way that allows collaboration.

By changing how you and your team work, you will be well positioned to put your consumer first and better able to reach them on their own terms. We need to look at moving away from rigid silos, which can be detrimental to a marketer’s quest of achieving excellence in Consumer-First Marketing.

You can use email and social together to build long-term customer engagement and ensure that you are connecting with your audiences at critical moments and within the right context. There are many ways to bring about a happy marriage between email and social that benefits both the marketing team, and more importantly the end consumer.

Introduce social feed in email: Live content capabilities that update an email at the time it was opened make it possible to bring the latest from your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds right into your email. Say au revoir to stale, unimaginative emails that scream, “Like us on Facebook,” or “Follow us on Twitter”. Instead, show your customers what they are missing by bringing a snapshot of the conversation right into their inbox. The content on social is a free and easy way to fill your email offering without a lot of effort from the email team.

Email sign-up on Facebook: It’s incredible to see the amount of brands that still don’t leverage their huge Facebook audiences to encourage and drive email-sign up on their social pages. It doesn’t require much in the way of resources from a cost and time perspective, but can stimulate a lot of sign-ups over time, even more so when promoted through contests that encourage sharing.

Social sign-on/social authentication: Social sign-on is a great way to allow your audiences and customers to create profiles and sign up for email updates, without having to fill out time-consuming forms. As an added benefit of such integration, you can pull valuable information like demographics, birthday, location, interest, and likes directly into your customer database. While the number of customers using social sign-on may not be high at the moment – those that do will provide you a gold mine of personal information that you can use for segmentation.

Customer Audiences: When using the Custom Audiences feature on Facebook, you can load the email addresses of your customers and, when there is a match with the addresses that Facebook has on file, send a targeted ad. Providing that you are delivering personalised and contextual messaging, this functionality is a compelling way of reaching customers that may have become estranged from your attempts at re-engagement via email.

Direct messaging: Last but not least, consider using direct messaging to interact with customers across your social channels. No, this is not technically email, but as a direct marketer there is no reason not to leverage social media direct messaging capabilities within your organisation to send personalised messages directly to your customers.

Happily ever after?

Despite first impressions, social media is far from a brief fling when it comes to email. Instead of replacing email, the two can co-exist very happily together when marketing teams think Consumer-First, not channel first.

So how do you get your happily ever after when it comes to marrying email and social? For today’s hyper-connected, tech-savvy consumer, these are just some ideas to combine email and social to offer more integrated and personalised communications to your customers. If you have commitment issues, you are missing out on creating cohesion between the two platforms. Every happy marriage takes work, but with some clever thinking, email and social could be a perfect match.

Christopher Baldwin

Christopher Baldwin


Christopher Baldwin is Head of UK Marketing, Selligent.