It’s evident that consumers are changing the way they approach media, circumventing traditional marketing channels such as television and print media in favour of social media sites that provide easy access to information, advice and recommendations. While it is tempting to think of social media and email marketing as different channels that don’t complement each other—and certainly don’t have the potential to augment each other. Don’t fall to the temptation. Email marketing and social media can work together, help to optimise each other, and drive additional revenue.

Ever since people began flocking to Facebook and Twitter, marketers have been trying to find ways to leverage social media channels to acquire new customers and convince existing ones to buy more. Giants in the retail space initially piloted the trend by offering exclusive coupons on Twitter and Facebook. Eventually this led to every major company having a Facebook page and Twitter feed, and email marketers began sharing links to their emails.

As consumers find it easier to plug into the life streams of others, they are spending more time interacting on a variety of levels – from communicating their activities and commenting on those of others to sharing information that they deem helpful or entertaining. In essence, consumers are relying more on their networks to help determine what’s worth their attention, and less on mainstream media.

This shift requires marketers to think differently about how they spread the word about their products and services. On the social web, consumers often tune out traditional third-party banner ads, instead focusing on the endless stream of personally relevant information being served up by their friends. That’s where the new discipline of social media marketing comes into play, which enables companies to identify their biggest influencers online and develop programs that entice them to share relevant information and promotions.

Making social media work with email marketing isn’t automatic and it’s not easy. It requires careful planning and content management. Yes—many email service providers offer what they describe as “social media integration” and this works well for many people with smaller lists and smaller budgets. However, for the larger business with a bigger digital footprint, integration requires more effort plus a deeper and more detailed strategy. Want to know more about some proven ways to combine the power of email marketing with social media? Let’s say you’re a large company and you have a strong digital marketing platform that includes:

  • 1,000,000 Facebook Likes
  • 2,000 Twitter followers
  • 4,000,000 email addresses

Now What? – Continue Building the Platform

The numbers above are excellent and admirable, but let’s remember—the company with the largest database of engaged followers has a huge advantage over the competition.

•    Use email to encourage people and give them an incentive to “Like” you on Facebook and follow you on Twitter.

•    Use your Facebook platform to persuade people to sign up for the email database – and let them know you’re also on Twitter.

•    Use Twitter to encourage followers to engage with you via email and Facebook.

This effort to build the digital database must be constant and overlapping

Listen. Learn. Develop Your Content.

The focus group isn’t dead. But if you want to find out what your customers are thinking about, Facebook and Twitter are excellent resources. You can monitor social media accounts to discover what’s going on in the minds of your consumers or you can prod a little to gather this information. It can be easy: simply ask your consumers what they think about issues, products, services, and their lives in general. You can then tailor content around what you know is interesting to your public. Customers are talking about your business in person and on social media platforms. Respond and engage with them on social media and through emails.

Maintain a Theme but Don’t Self-Plagiarise

It’s important to maintain brand integrity, but it’s a mistake to cut and paste content between the platforms. Keep the content theme consistent but repurpose it across the channels so it’s fresh and engaging.

Share the Testing Data

You know which subject lines work for emails. Use the same lines in social media. Always be testing, then use the test results across the platforms.

Social Media, Social Proof

Harvest social proof and testimonials from social media and use them in emails and other communications. You can develop a sense of community, plus create buzz for all your channels.

“Only Available on Our Facebook Page For a Limited Time”

To get the audience jumping across platforms, use the old standards of direct marketing. Offers, geographic exclusivity, “must act before” calls to action, “Special preview only for Facebook friends”, and so on.

Although there’s little doubt that email and social media integration will eventually become the norm (some would say it is already), no one (to my knowledge) has come up with really compelling statistics to back up its effectiveness. The industry as a whole is, for the most part, still in “anecdote mode” when it comes to integrating email marketing and social media marketing. However, it is safe to say that social is not killing email; they are not natural foes, but rather complementary channels that work hand in hand with their own strengths helping amplify the benefits of each.

Kara Trivunovic

Kara Trivunovic


Kara Trivunovic is the Global Director of Strategy for StrongMail.