A new study issued today by email marketing provider ExactTarget highlights growing enthusiasm among email marketers for integrating their efforts with social media components. In 2008, just 13% of firms surveyed leveraged social media, primarily to increase subscribers. In 2009, however, that number is projected to grow to 46%, with the focus on using social media in tandem with email marketing efforts.
The ExactTarget study notes that the success of this integration “remains largely uncharted.” I’m guessing that if they were able to chart it, they would. The lack of data on results is not surprising, given the relatively recent emergence of social media as a marketing tool. Anecdotal findings indicate the idea has not worked for marketing designed solely to push product. The success of Dell Outlet, however, shows that there are categories where a sales message is valued by followers. I’m sure we will see others try to replicate Dell’s success with far less impressive results. The campaigns I see benefiting the most from the trend of integrating social media with email marketing are those using email as a relationship-building vehicle.
Inbound marketing expert Hubspot featured a post that ties in with this topic on their blog this week. Penned by Rick Burnes, “Does Your Company Have the Content Mindset?” outlines techniques by which organizations and their managers can generate valuable content by leveraging activities in which they are already engaged. Valuable content fuels valuable relationships.
One reader commented on her confusion about how to convert her email list members into blog readers. The commenter’s stated objectives were to boost clickthroughs on her email newsletter and to get people to buy more stuff on her site. Burnes’ reply reiterates the Content is King mantra of his post, adding that cross promoting the blog in the email newsletter would help. I suspect the confusion was born out of the gap between an outbound philosophy (focused on generating awareness and sales) and the inbound marketing approach (focused on sharing information to build relationships and maximize lifetime customer value). The outbound focus is on how to deliver these new promotional vehicles to target audiences; the inbound focus is on the message the new vehicle delivers to add value for the organization’s constituency. The winners will be those organizations that learn this the fastest.