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The Year of Social and Email

One trend stands out in 2010: The integration of email marketing and social media

MartinLieberman, Managing Editor

by Martin Lieberman,  Constant Contact Managing Editor

When looking back on a given year, one expects to find a number of trends that stand out in just about any line of business. But for 2010, there was really only one trend for email marketing: the impact of social media. It's now easier than ever to add the social interactivity to your emails that customers and members are coming to expect from the companies and organizations -- big or small -- that they do business with.

We've always advised Hints & Tips readers to make their emails two-way communication vehicles rather than just talking at recipients, but social media integration takes this feedback cycle to a new level by giving subscribers new ways to endorse your content and connect with your brand. Now you can start a conversation in an email message and have it continue among subscribers and fans on your Facebook Page. In addition, the integration of social media and email makes it easier to extend your content beyond your contact list when subscribers share your messages with their social circle, allowing you to find prospective customers and members more quickly.

In 2010, we've added new features that any Email Marketing user can (and should) utilize to make their email campaigns more social right out of the gate, including:

Share your newsletters on Facebook and Twitter: When sending a newsletter, you can automatically share a link to the web version of the email with your Facebook fans and Twitter followers. This will get your newsletter content in front of both your subscribers and all your social media connections simultaneously.

Include a Social Share Bar with all your outgoing email newsletters: Adding a Social Share Bar to the top of your email newsletters makes it easy for recipients to share your message with their own social media connections. This can help spread your content and messaging beyond the original distribution list. It's supercharged word-of-mouth marketing.

Naturally, when it comes to social media, you only want to share content that's meant for wider public consumption. Organizations sending out member-only communications shouldn't add share features to the newsletters.

Social media is more than just buttons

Of course, as 2010 also taught us, social media is much more than adding Tweet and Like buttons to your outgoing emails and sharing your messages through social media. You have to give people a reason to connect with you and interact with your content on social media sites. And, you may have to tell people who are less social savvy than you are to go ahead click the share buttons or connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and other pertinent social networks if that's what you want them to do.

If you want to find success on social media, here are three other best practices to follow:

Use your subject line as a tweet: When your email message is shared through social media, the subject line is often the default text that gets published, particularly via Twitter. Make sure your subject line is appealing to both email recipients and those who might be seeing a link to your content via social media. Consideration for Twitter's 140-character limit will help keep your subject lines short and to the point. (Even better, keep it shorter than 120 characters so your followers can easily retweet it.)

Drive the conversation: Your content should be engaging whether you're sending it to and sharing it with 10 people or 1,000. To ratchet up the sharing, add a social call to action, such as a question at the end of your newsletter articles that directs readers to your Facebook Page to respond. Or tell recipients to tweet their response along with a hashtag of your choice.

Track your social shares: With Social Stats, you can track how many subscribers shared your email with their social media connections and see how many people clicked to view your message via social media. It's a great tool to for seeing how far your message is reaching beyond your original distribution list and can be used to see which social networks are most popular with subscribers.

Don't forget to listen

Social media is a great way to spread your message further and to reach new prospects more quickly, but, in addition to generating share-worthy content, you have to remember to step back and listen. Take the time to read what your customers and members are posting on your Facebook Page. Monitor Twitter for mentions of your handle, company name, products, or services to see what people are saying about you. By listening, you may also find new trends or nuggets of content to share with your newsletter subscribers and social media followers. Social media is a two-way cycle of content.

Keeping a close eye on social media can be resource consuming, but tools such as NutshellMail and HootSuite can help cut down on the time spent on the task and allow you to respond quickly to those with a complaint and thank those with compliments.

When the year started, business and organizations were using social media and email as almost separate marketing entities. As we enter 2011, they're a complimentary team that can help power any organization's marketing efforts.

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