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Issue: 32 - Aug 15, 2011
Optimizing Email with Social Media: With New Tools, It’s Easy
By: Joe Dysart
Joe Dysart
Veterinarians looking to get a handle on social media as a promotional tool have found an easy solution: simply integrate the medium into existing e-mail marketing programs.
 
For some, this fusion of social media and e-mail marketing seems inevitable. The study “View from the Social Inbox, released earlier this year by Merkle (http://www.merkle.com/), for example, found that active social networkers are also likely to be avid e-mail users. All told, the study found 42% of social networkers check their e-mail four or more times a day, as compared to just 27% of those who don’t socialize online.

The easiest way to begin fusing your social media efforts with your e-mail marketing is to ensure that each effort includes an element of the other. In practical terms, this means always embedding your company’s e-mail address in any activity you engage in on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the like.
 
Plus, you should always find ways to use your e-mail list to alert customers to your activity, special promotions, announcements and other promotional activity on social media.
 
Besides doing simple cross promotions, you can also invest in some new tools to get even more mileage out of your e-mail list.
Case-in-point: StrongMail’s new Social Studio (http://www.strongmail.com/products/strongmail-social-studio) service, for example, enables you to sift through your e-mail list for people who are known in social media as top influencers – or people who have a lot of active friend online.

You can then strike up relationships with these people to help you promote your business to their friends and extended social networks.
Essentially, you work the program by loading your e-mail list into Social Studio, and then allowing the software to do a search on the Web, which matches the addresses on your list with any e-mail addresses on the Web that are associated with heavy social media activity.

Once you’ve identified customers who are also top influencers in social media, you can reach out to them via e-mail to offer them rewards and other offers in exchange from promoting your business to their friends.
A number of Web marketers, for example, have already used Social Studio to invite widely read bloggers and other social media influencers to alert their Facebook friends about discounts and promotions at their companies.
“The real value of social media marketing is to move beyond merely listening, to start driving actual revenue,” says Paul Bates, UK managing director at StrongMail.

Granted, when using programs like Social Studio, you’ll need to tiptoe lightly between being seen as reaching out to socially active customers, as opposed to becoming a willing participant in privacy invasion.

But once you’ve struck a formula that works for you, you’ll most likely find that numerous people on your e-mail list can be potential marketing catalysts.
You’ll also find there are other programs similar to Social Studio that offer veterinarians virtual dashboards they can use to create, manage and monitor offers to top influencers across a number of digital mediums, including e-mail, social, mobile and Web.

ExactTarget’s Interactive Marketing Hub (http://www.exacttarget.com/hub/index.aspx), for example, includes a CoTweet Social module, which enables businesses to manage their interactions with top influencers and others on multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts, and includes a number of analytics tools and reports.
Another module within the package, Sites, enables you, or your Web designer, to create, design and deploy Web pages that are embedded with links to your presence on Facebook, Twitter and similar social networks.
 
And yet another program with similar capabilities is Interact Campaign, from Responsys (http://www.responsys.com/suite/index.php).

As the fusion between social media and e-mail marketing gels at your business, here are some tactics you may want to consider when combining the two:
 
*Include Social Media Links in Every Email: This is really Step One in any synthesis campaign, and should be a part of every e-mail marketing campaign, no questions asked. Such optimization is as easy as adding links to the key social networks you’re using in your e-mails, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. There’s also a ShareThis button (http://sharethis.com/) you can add to your e-mail that instantly offers users clickable access to dozens of social networking sites they may regularly post to.    
 
*Get the Most from Your Testimonials: Customer accolades look good on your company Web site, but for some, they look even better on your Facebook page. 

You can solicit testimonials by e-mailing new customers shortly after a visit, and inviting them to submit a review. Initially, you can post glowing responses on your Web site, and then – with permission – on Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks as well. For even more mileage, ask your customers to repost the submitted testimonial to his/her own Twitter, Facebook and similar feeds, and offer a small reward or compensation as incentive.
 
*Embed Social Network Testimonials in E-mails: Sometimes, spontaneous testimonials from your customers pop-up on Facebook and Twitter without any prodding whatsoever. Such promotional plugs can be easily cut-and-pasted into the next marketing e-mail – along with a grateful nod and permission from the author, of course.

*Give People a Reason to ‘Like’ You on Facebook: The “Like” button on Facebook has quickly become one of the most coveted clicks on the marketing world. When someone ‘likes’ your business on Facebook, your product or service becomes quantifiably more important, and more desirable. Many Facebookers click the “Like” button in the hopes they’ll get a freebie from the business. Don’t disappoint. Always offer, if at all possible, a coupon or some other tangible reward for the endorsement.
*Hold Twitter-or-Facebook-Driven Contests: The immediacy of social networks perfectly lends itself to time-sensitive contests. Hold an answer-the-question contest once a week, rewarding the first person with the right answer with a valuable prize or free service. And of course, use e-mail to stoke interest, and report on contest winners.
*Fish Where the Fish Are: Running your e-mail database through programs like Social Studio can also yield an interesting picture of where your customers ‘hang out.’ For example, you may find that the greatest percentage of your customers frequent Twitter, rather than Facebook. Armed with these insights, you’ll be able to put your digital marketing dollars where they’ll reach the greatest percentage of your customers.

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Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. 
Voice: (646) 233-4089.
 
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1. Adding links to key social networks like YouTube is step one in optimizing your e-mail campaigns with social media.