There has been much conversation in recent months surrounding the combined potential of email and social as a powerful marketing strategy. Despite an ever growing number of digital channels, a recent poll of more than 2,000 consumers by Experian found that Facebook and email remains the preferred channel to receive information from brands (35 percent and 30 percent respectively). It is clear that multi-channel marketing campaigns that effectively combine email with social can open up the dialogue between brands and their customers and drive higher levels of engagement.

Consumers today prefer engaging with a brands’ content in the way they like and when they like. Social and email channels give consumers just that privilege – the opportunity to switch on and engage when they are ready to do so.

Connecting with the modern consumer

The same piece of Experian research found that 27 per cent of respondents regularly unsubscribe from emails that no longer interest them. Meanwhile, 18 per cent said that they regularly unlike Facebook pages that are no longer of interest, while 14 per cent said they would stop following a brand on Twitter if they felt the content had become irrelevant to them. This demonstrates the very real need for marketers to use data and insights to create sticky, relevant content and engaging experiences for customers or risk losing their business.

When we talk about best practise in combining social and email, it is important to think long and hard about the content and the creative. An integrated digital marketing strategy is not just about embedding social links in emails or asking customers to like your Facebook page. Once customers have opted in to engage with you via both email and social channels, you need to think about the type of content you are providing to keep them interested and to avoid duplication.

A retailer, for example, might use its Facebook page to share updates on new, innovative products and engage customers in conversations to get their feedback on how these products might fit in their daily lives, but then use their email marketing to alert customers to flash sales on certain items or make suggestions for other related products that a customer might enjoy.

Facebook’s custom verbs allow users to recommend or rate products to others, which is a great social discovery tool for sectors such as publishing and travel, and means that their email marketing can remain much focused on driving commerce opportunities.

If your objective is to drive followers on social media sites, then you need to offer them something that they can’t get elsewhere. This could take many forms – perhaps access to unseen content, or entry into a competition that is for fans only – to make them feel special and ensure they remain engaged with your brand. If you share the same information through every marketing channel, there is a danger of boring the customer, or in the worst case scenario losing their interest all together.

Using dynamic, personalised content in all of your marketing endeavours remains one of the best ways to attract the interest of both existing customers and prospects. Taking what you know about your customers and their past behaviour and sharing content that is tailored to their interests is sure to get you noticed. A customer that has just bought a big ticket item such as a 3D TV is highly unlikely to be in the market for another big screen, but very likely to be interested in 3D glasses or perhaps a 3D Blu-ray player, for example. Tailoring your communications and offers to suit what you know they are interested in will help improve click through rates and email penetration.

Integration in practice – Panasonic

The marketing campaign that supported the launch of Panasonic’s Smart Viera TV is a great example how social and email can work hand in hand to engage customers and create value for the brand. The campaign was designed to increase web traffic through social channels, build brand popularity and boost product awareness.

The primary purpose of the integrated campaign was to educate and inform customers about Panasonic’s Smart Viera TVs. The brand used video within the email that played the above-the-line television advertisement on loop, with a strong call-to-action beside the video to encourage recipients to find out more about the product. The secondary call-to-action within the email was to drive traffic to Panasonic’s Facebook page, offering customers the opportunity to enter into a competition for the chance to win a Smart Viera TV.

The Facebook page incorporated video and competitions to support ongoing customer and data acquisition, as well as driving traffic to the Panasonic website.

This approach to multi-channel digital engagement was not just limited to the Viera launch. Panasonic’s Dynamo TV YouTube campaign in 2010 secured 2.2 million views, was YouTube’s number one UK branded TV channel and spawned over 800,000 tweets. Importantly, it coincided with a huge spike in Panasonic sales in the UK, proving that email and other digital approaches deliver increased footfall to the high street.

The key to social media success – integration

With over 845 million active users on Facebook it’s easy to see why brands invest so much time and effort in social media elements of campaigns, while email remains a favoured channel for many. Brands need to remember that above all, they must be creative, integrated and personalised in all communications to ensure continued engagement across all channels.

James Murray

James Murray


James Murray is Digital Insight Manager for Experian Marketing Services at Experian