When it comes to audience building, personalized communication and sharing information quickly and efficiently, not much beats email and social media. In fact, at the end of 2014, a survey of business leaders showed that social and email would be these two channels would be the most likely to see an increase in investment in 2015; social media is predicted to grow as a channel by around 37%, and email is expected to jump from 3% growth to nearly 10% in 2015, thanks in large part to improved personalization.
Why are these impressive jumps in growth occurring? One reason might be the high ROI of email. Although email’s response rates may not be ideal (around .12%), its inexpensive nature means that it still sees an ROI of around 28.5%- an impressive amount when compared with direct mail, which only has a 7% ROI. Email is also the most popular activity on smartphones and other mobile devices, with 78% of 18-44 year olds reporting that they use their mobile devices for email.
Meanwhile, there are currently 2.08 billion active social media accounts in the world, representing 23% of the world’s population, and the average social media user spends over two hours per day using social networks. A 2013 study also showed that on average a Facebook like equates to an extra $22 spent on the company (however, keep in mind that this is likely to vary greatly by industry).
With these two channels exploding, marketers are realizing that they might be able to harness the power of email to improve their social media reach, and vice versa. Traditionally, however, the crossover between email subscribers and social media followers isn’t usually very high. For example, a recent study found that out of one company’s social media followers, only around 50% were also subscribed to their newsletter. Similarly, crossover between social media sites is also limited; only 5% of that same company’s Facebook fans were following them on Twitter, while only 40% of the company’s Twitter followers were also Facebook fans.
On the surface, email and social media are very different channels with very different purposes; email is typically considered a mid-funnel channel, while social media often sits at the top of the funnel. But how can marketers leverage each channel to improve the other?
Using Social Media to Grow Email
While social media may seem like the best way to build your brand awareness and capture new fans, capturing your social media followers’ email addresses is still the best way to own your audience. Social media audiences are “leased” rather than owned, and nothing exemplifies this truth better than Facebook’s declining organic reach. In 2014, Facebook ended the free ride they had been giving businesses and brands in order to reach their audience for free, and marketers were left scrambling- and paying- to enjoy the reach they once enjoyed for free. You don’t own your Facebook audience- Facebook does. This makes capturing email addresses (a truly owned channel) more crucial than ever.
First, make it easy for your followers to sign up for your email newsletter. Many email clients provide an app that can be linked to Facebook, allowing Facebook fans to easily sign up for email newsletters. A seamless, simple process will encourage your social fans to follow through with the sign-up process.
Next, use your social media channels to offer followers previews of your premium email content (ReachMail has a social media sharing tool that allows you to easily post your messages to your company’s social media pages). Email newsletters are more suited to long-form, original content, while Facebook or Twitter posts are better for short, pithy updates. However, your Facebook and Twitter channels are great avenues for previewing your exclusive email content, and offering those previews can encourage your social media fans to sign up for your newsletter.
One impressive example of these two strategies succeeding comes from KFC and the launch of their Double Down sandwich. During this launch, KFC implemented an email sign-up widget on their Facebook page and sent an email to current subscribers encouraging them to share an email pre-announcing the Double Down. KFC found that the email was shared more than 12,000 times on Twitter and Facebook alone in just 24 hours, and thanks to the social media shares and the traffic to the email widget, opt-ins for email subscriptions rose 30%.
You may also choose to incentivize newsletter signups. Many e-commerce retailers provide incentives of 10-20% off a purchase in exchange for signing up for an email list; however, you can also offer other incentives, such as exclusive content, free samples, or sweepstakes entries. For example, online tea retailer Teapigs offered 10% off of a purchase via Facebook in exchange for an email sign-up, which led to a 30% increase in newsletter sign-ups.
Remember the statistics we mentioned earlier about how email is now the most popular activity on smartphones and other mobile devices? 45% of all email opens occurred on mobile platforms in 2014, while 30% of consumers report that they exclusively read their email on mobile devices. Even worse, 69% of mobile users report deleting emails that aren’t mobile optimized. Therefore, it’s imperative that your emails are optimized for mobile use.
Using Email Marketing to Grow Social Channels
Facebook and other social media sites are traditionally seen as top of funnel marketing channels best-suited for attracting new customers and increasing brand awareness. But in fact, Facebook has been proven to be less than ideal for creating new customers; around 84% of Facebook fans on company pages represent current customers, meaning that Facebook is best suited towards keeping existing customers.
Email, meanwhile, is seen as more of an ‘owned’ audience, managed and controlled by the brand for the purpose of moving leads down the sales funnel. However, with a twist on the tactics discussed above, you can still use email marketing to grow your social channels.
The most immediately successful way to use your email list to grow your social channels is simple: add buttons to the bottom of your emails directly linking to your social pages. This cross-channel promotion has been shown to lead to a 325% increase in new Facebook fans on the day of the newsletter (the reversal of this cross-channel promotion is also a smart strategy; a Facebook wall post encouraging subscription to the newsletter led to a 225% increase in new subscriptions compared to the average daily sign-up rate).
Don’t be shy about using these buttons in your email list. The more often a button linking to social media is available to an email subscriber, the more likely the user is to take advantage of it. Other places to put the button can include on the confirmation page after they sign up for the email list, in welcome emails, and in customer service emails.
Another ReachMail feature you can take advantage of here is our autoresponder. If you’re already sending a welcome series, consider adding one email specifically inviting your new subscribers to join you on each of your social media channels.
Incentives also work for increasing your social channels. Use your email list to send our notices for sweepstakes and other promotions, and you’ll see your social media likes and followers rise.
Koyal Wholesale, the world’s largest supplier of products for weddings, integrated their social media presence into email campaigns to great success. Their email list had over 200,000 subscribers, and by including their Facebook and YouTube content in these emails, Koyal Wholesale achieved a 12% lift in their emails’ open rates, a 10% lift in conversion rates, and ultimately a 16% lift in revenue.
Using your email marketing list to grow your social channels- and vice versa- is a win-win situation. However, a word of caution: marketers should be careful to remember what each channel’s specific purpose is. While keeping your channels’ goals set to their specific strengths and purposes is important for successful cross-channel promotion, the fact is that using one channel to fuel the success of the other is a smart marketing strategy. By integrating your email and social media strategies, you can increase your brand’s reach, adding to your leads and moving them down the sales funnel.