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Secrets & Lies: Integrating social into email strategy

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This year, according to Forrester Research's “U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2011 to 2016,” released last August, spending on social media will completely overtake spending on email marketing. Forrester projected marketers will spend $2.12 billon on social media and $1.69 billion on email marketing. The disparity gets even wider in 2013, with $2.76 billion spent on social and $1.88 billion on email. Marketers, it seems are putting more stock into social media. This is fine, said Simms Jenkins, CEO of Atlanta-based digital agency BrightWave Marketing—as long as they don't forget the many benefits of email marketing. Jenkins supports this strategy below with one secret and one lie related to the intersection of email marketing and social media. Secret: You should be using social to enhance your email marketing program. Today, most marketers have such social components as “share” buttons or direct links to their Twitter and Facebook pages built in to their email marketing. While these strategies are beneficial, too many marketers forget that email, not social, drives revenue far more often. “Email is making money, so why are marketers only using email to drive social? Email is your tried-and-true; it's where your audience is right now,” Jenkins said. “You can be using YouTube, and Facebook and LinkedIn to build your email database and drive new subscribers.” He suggested creating tabs on your company's Facebook page dedicated to posting new newsletter content and providing a link to sign up for your email content. “You can also use Facebook Connect, which takes a user's existing Facebook information and "shares' it with your brand.” Other social platforms can be helpful, too. Jenkins suggested posting links on Twitter to your newest email content so people can click through and subscribe. YouTube especially presents an amazing opportunity, he said. “If someone commits to a two- or three-minute video, they're more likely to go to your site and ask for additional information; so make sure there's a visible link on your YouTube [channel] so someone can click through.” Lie: Fans and followers are more valuable than email subscribers. “The most active social media users are the ones who check email the most,” Jenkins said, “which is why marketers should realize that their choice shouldn't be email or social. If someone is interested in your company they are going to be using all the channels that are available.” Jenkins pointed to several data sources to back up this fact. According to ExactTarget's Subscribers, Fans and Followers series (methodology can be found here), millennials—people between 15 and 24 years old—are twice as likely to subscribe to email in their search for ongoing deals (56%) as they are to search for deals on Facebook (28%). Meanwhile, the average number of brands people are engaged with via email is 12. Nine was the average engaged via Facebook, with only eight via Twitter. In addition, the average open rate for emails, according to Jenkins, was still 25%, with a click-through rate of 6%. “But for every 100 people you have on Facebook, only 3% of those people are going to see your daily post,” he said. “Email is still very relevant, and worth investing in.”
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