Friday, 1 May 2009

Should email be more social?

I get too much email. Fact. I'm signed up to hundreds of retailers, industry bodies, bloggers, gurus etc in the search for illusory perfection. I want to find the best elements of every aspect of email marketing to blend them into something fantastic for our Clients. For the past few weeks i've been tracking who adds a social element to their emails and there are surprisingly few examples. Which got me thinking. Yes, rare I know.

What do I mean by social elements to email? I mean giving people the ability to interact with and share your content across their social networks and to join your networks, such as:
  • Linking to your blog
  • Providing social bookmarking 
  • Showcasing your social profiles on sites like Facebook & Flickr
  • Including Twitter follow links
  • Highlighting your online forums
Of course, not everyone is feeling social despite it being the latest obsession of the marketing world. However, for most brands there is a compelling reason to make emails more social - not everyone wants to buy from you right now, so you need to keep them engaged with your brand until their purchase desire is ripe. If they get a flat email with no reason to pay attention, they're gone. Unless your next emails then land at the exact point they are considering a purchase, you are likely to lose the sale to someone else.

So what do I recommend?

Firstly, get to know your audience and start with the basics. Put social bookmarking on your email - you can use free tools like Add This and embed the code into your html. Then tell people about it and get them excited - tell them to share with their friends and post the content to their preferred network so they can access it whenever they want.

Secondly, test the impact of your social media presence. Start simple with something like Twitter. Add a "Follow me on Twitter" section to the email and then track the volume of clicks. If your tracking & analytics is effective, you can then measure how non-Twitter email customers compare with Twitter email customers for site traffic & conversion. Having spoken to Littlewoods Deals, they generate 50 to 100 visits to their website from Twitter daily.

Once you've got them to follow you on Twitter, you can use your tweets to keep them engaged with you and your brand (important you keep this informal and personal), alerting them to offers and promotions as well as new products/services. Twitter is a much lower cost communication tool than email - no design, build or distribution costs. Imagine if you could get 1,000 of your customers to follow you on Twitter - you then have a daily communication opportunity, the only cost is your time.

A good example of this in action is......drum alarms and no surprises......ASOS!

I know everyone bangs their drum but they just get it. They embrace online and the love talking to their customers. A recent ASOS email invited people to follow their Tweeps and if you look in the footer of all their emails, there are links to their social network profiles.

Another brand mixing email & social well is Coke Zone - targeted at the younger audience but great offers and clean creative. Check them out.

Do you agree with me? Do you think that brands should be integrating their social & email marketing? 

Let me know of any good/bad examples you have discovered.

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