Integrating data and processes across business departments is hardly reinventing the wheel, and for years brands have been moving away from silos and toward overlapping infrastructures. While some companies are getting better at adopting integration, many still fail to replicate this merger when it comes to marketing outreach. In particular, many marketers struggle to craft email campaigns in tandem with other digital channels like social media.
As brands begin to bring together information about shoppers across social and email, they can generate personalized, timely and relevant content and campaigns. The more marketers know about those they are reaching out to the better, and a cross-channel approach to digital outreach offer retailers this degree of insight. Just as it’s helpful to know personal details about your coworkers to improve professional connections, when brands learn more about consumers from multiple perspectives they can develop stronger online relationships.
From links and social share buttons to branded hashtags, many avenues exist for marketers to integrate their existing social and email efforts. And—as reported by the 2016 Yesmail Marketing Channel Report “Back to Basics: Retailers are not Ready for Cross-Channel Integration”—nearly a third of retailers surveyed cited integrating email with other digital channels as a top three email marketing priority for 2016.
However, while it’s true that social and email are intertwined more than ever before, ‘more’ is relative here considering how disparate the two once were. With the sustained growth of social heading into 2016, today’s brands can be doing so much more to productively link email with these channels. In order to increase email’s ROI, marketers must use social to influence, expand and measure their campaigns’ capabilities. Social channels are powerful marketing tools that can boost email’s effectiveness and reach, so long as marketers allow the two to work together.
The Power of Social Integration
With over a billion Facebook users and hundreds of millions of tweets sent every day, social media becomes a spider web of interaction points for brands when integrated with email. While existing subscribers may be the center of this network, brands can incorporate features like social share buttons into their email content to reach new consumers as well.
For example, if a marketer deploys a buy-one-get-one-free offer with an embedded social share button, loyal subscribers may think “my friends will like this” and post the branded news or a promotion to Twitter or Facebook. Brands can then track these shares, monitor activity and reach out to potential new customers. What’s more, brands can reward active sharers with additional deals or discounts. This means that marketers can strengthen relationships with existing subscribers while simultaneously building connections with new ones. Even if shoppers never go on to make a purchase themselves, every sharer becomes a highly valuable brand advocate. The effects of social sharing have the potential to multiply over and over again as a sharer’s friends engage and share, too.
Due to the nature of social media, users are more likely to take note of and appreciate content shared by their friends. So long as content is interesting enough to share and can engage with a clear and relatable call-to-action (e.g. a social share about “Star Wars” would be relevant right now), email marketers can use social channels to motivate loyal shoppers to share branded conversations and gain traction in the social space.
How Big Data Analytics Brings All Channels Together
Although marketers can already analyze consumers’ email and social habits separately, bringing them together offers brands a more holistic understanding of what shoppers want, and what campaigns are working across all available channels.
In the past, social media monitoring revolved around analyzing sentiment. A Twitter campaign was deemed successful if the majority of responses to it were positive, or a Facebook campaign was considered a failure if it didn’t exceed its intended threshold of likes and shares. Determining attitude and counting likes and shares is certainly important, but now—in order to compete with the high volume of noise across all social channels—these metrics alone are no longer enough. Rather than focusing on how users are immediately reacting to a digital campaign, marketers must look at how campaigns are working over time.
Thanks to the evolution of Big Data, brands can do just that. With every user tracked across social and email, brands can add consumer information to a growing database that generates a holistic and omnichannel view of shoppers. Marketers can use these digital footprints to guide future campaigns and improve performance, both in store and online. For instance, during the holiday season, consumers are looking for deals and are likely to engage with emails that feature promotions or coupons. As brands register this high level of engagement and interaction, they can begin to send out similar promotions to those same subscribers via social media. And this approach works in reverse, too. Whenever someone engages with specific content on social, brands should send those same consumers similar content via email. By doing so and tracking consumer trends on multiple channels, marketers can improve campaign performance overall.
By looking at campaigns from both a macro and a micro level, marketers can improve their interactions with subscribers and begin to better understand why consumers act the way they do. As brands learn more about shoppers and become accustomed to their behaviors, they can target outreach with personalized communications on both social and email. In addition to mapping likes and share, trends informed across integrated campaigns and Big Data analytics are more thorough representation of customer preferences, perceptions and sentiments that brands can act upon.
As brands move away from silos and toward overlapping departments, their campaigns will naturally follow suit. However, companies should always be actively seeking out opportunities to further develop their strategies for campaign integration. Social analytics is an ever-evolving field that the most successful brands must know how to work with, and—as e-commerce continues to grow—retailers can leverage integrated digital campaigns to connect with shoppers and grow future sales opportunities.
Throughout 2016, marketers need to master the merger of email with social so that they can then push email further into other channels, such as direct mail, SMS and mobile apps. Integrated social and email campaigns is just the beginning for marketers. However, it’s an important first step and one that brands cannot underestimate.
Steve True is director of sales and strategy Yesmail. @StevenTrue