BtoB

What is the difference between social programs and socialized e-mail?

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As marketers continue to evolve their social networking strategies, it is important to remember that e-mail remains one of the most cost-effective and, if executed properly, the most beneficial tools within their marketing toolboxes. Marketers can use e-mail to increase the effectiveness of their social channels and as a way to identify their most engaged and vocal customers and recipients. Combining the reach of e-mail with the power of social networking helps to achieve that marketing sweet spot—the right offer to the right individual at the right time.

Social programs are developed for exposure and interaction solely within the social networks and blog space. Programs often include some outlet for interaction that a user can experience and then share with contacts within their network. The interaction can be via a survey, quiz, game or other online, interactive component.

Socialized e-mail requires marketers to look at both their e-mail strategy and their social goals to find the perfect blend of content to meet both objectives. Earliest iterations of socialization have included “SWYN” (share with your network) links tied to offers or newsletters, resulting in an advanced forward-to-a-friend type feel. Over time it has evolved to get marketers thinking of ways to include components that are going to inspire sharing behavior and, in some cases, even motivate it without being too overbearing.

When applying socialization components to b-to-b efforts, it is important to realize that recipients may choose to share with a professional network like LinkedIn, within industry or vertical-specific environments or even with in-house colleagues. So make sure it is easy to execute, otherwise the halo effect of that share behavior will not be realized (or at least not as greatly as it could have been).

But the most important thing to walk away with is this: The content needs to be worth sharing. Whether you are building a social program or socializing your e-mail, if the content or detail isn’t something you would associate with publicly, it likely won’t go social.

Kara Trivunovic is senior director of strategic services at StrongMail (www.strongmail.com), a provider of e-mail marketing solutions.

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