Silverpop merges e-mail, social marketing

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While social networking may have started with the younger generation, today it’s a mainstream phenomenon. It’s even invading the e-mail marketing world: E-mail service provider Silverpop recently added a Share-to-Social feature that lets e-mail recipients forward e-mails directly to their Facebook and MySpace networks via their personal update feeds. As with any e-mail marketing opportunity, however, it’s not enough to simply create a social networking strategy and launch it. You have to do some legwork before starting, but it can pay off, said Bill Nussey, Silverpop’s CEO.

“Social networking represents a nirvana of viral marketing, which was typically hard to measure,” he said. “When you combine the two you have a very measurable, trackable, targetable medium.”

Marketers need to consider what their e-mail recipients would be willing to forward to their friends and colleagues, according to Silverpop. E-mails must have a personal aspect to them, and they also must stand up to the scrutiny of potentially hundreds or even thousands of people who don’t know your company or your brand. This is especially important because when a recipient turns your e-mail into a network update, it can be commented on by anyone in that person’s social network.

Today, those marketers that are using Silverpop’s Share-to-Social functionality report a 31% open-to-click rate for Share-to-Social links. Nearly 15% of those who click on the links in the e-mail posted the messages to Facebook or MySpace. Even more impressive, 25% of the posted e-mails generated additional clicks from the social marketing sites, according to Silverpop.

The feature also gives marketers good visibility into the success of their campaigns. Users of the Silverpop social networking option can see exactly how many people saw the post related to their e-mail and how many people clicked through to the e-mail content, Nussey said. Recipients also have a way to sign up to receive future e-mails from the company.

Using the feature is a good way to get started with social networking, he said, and a much better alternative to another popular social networking marketing phenomenon: creating a fan page. Although b-to-c companies such as Taco Bell and PepsiCo have seen great success creating fan pages on Facebook and MySpace, the same strategy can backfire on a b-to-b marketer.

Fan pages, which give people a common place to share experiences and affection for a specific brand or product, require daily updating and nurturing, and aren’t always worth the effort, he said.

“A lot of people are trying to emulate what’s happening in the b-to-c world by creating brand networks, but you have to think about it this way: Would people really want to be a fan of your copier, for example? Even if I was, [would I] want to put my name out there publicly?” he said.

A better option, he said, is to create user groups. Like fan pages, they give people a way to talk about and interact with your brand and each other.

However, instead of creating a user group on a social media site such as Facebook or LinkedIn, you might want to consider placing it on your own site, where you can monitor it closely—and promote it with an e-mail marketing campaign.

“It’s a challenge to build a user group, so you’ll want to be completely in control of the process,” Nussey said.

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