SEMA News—February 2011

With New Tools, It’s Easy

By Joe Dysart

  SEMA News—February 2011-With New Tools, It’s Easy
Sophisticated new suites, such as Interactive Marketing Hub, offer marketers dashboards that they can use to create, manage and monitor such integrated programs across all digital media. 
Marketers looking to get a handle on social media as a promotional tool have found an easy solution: Integrate the medium into existing e-mail marketing programs. The pioneers of this method say that a little creative contact with current and potential customers on social networks, such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter, can add new muscle to tried-and-true e-mail.

For example, some new tools available with StrongMail’s new Social Studio service enable companies to match e-mail addresses in their databases with “top influencers”—people who have a lot of active friends online—and then reach out to those influencers with rewards, offers and word-of-mouth promotional programs. A number of marketers have already used Social Studio to invite such influencers to alert their Facebook friends about discounts and promotions and then give rewards to those influencers who generate the most conversions in terms of referred sales or other desired actions.

“The real value of social media marketing is to move beyond merely listening and to start driving actual revenue,” said Paul Bates, U.K. managing director at StrongMail.

Indeed, the power these programs have to ferret out social activity on the web by simply inputting an e-mail address can be a bit unsettling. For example, Flowtown, a niche service that focuses primarily on mining and manipulating evidence of social networking, invites all comers to its website to input any e-mail and instantly pull up all the web activity associated with that e-mail. I took the bait and, not surprisingly, found a few revelations on my social network activity with e-mail addresses I currently use for such purposes. Flowtown also unearthed a website community I joined—and forgot about—long ago with an old e-mail address I haven’t used in years.



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Granted, marketers need to tiptoe lightly between being seen as reaching out to socially active customers and becoming willing participants in privacy invasion. But it’s clear that the ability to literally monitor every public move made by a person on the Internet can already be discovered, sliced, diced—and turned into a marketing opportunity. In fact, some of the more sophisticated programs now offer marketers dashboards that they can use to create, manage and monitor such integrated programs across all digital media, including e-mail, social, mobile and web.

ExactTarget’s Interactive Marketing Hub, for example, offers a CoTweet Social module that enables marketers to manage multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts, track conversations and schedule posts while monitoring all the activity with analytics and reports. Another module within the package, Sites, gives marketers the ability to create, design and deploy static, interactive or socially enabled landing pages to support specific marketing campaigns. And still other modules offer enhanced interactivity and monitoring via e-mail and mobile phones. Similar programs with all-in-one solutions include Interact Campaign from Responsys and the aforementioned Social Studio from StrongMail, both long-established e-mail marketing companies.

This fusion of e-mail marketing and social media seems inevitable. The study “View From the Social Inbox” released earlier this year by Merkle found that active social networkers are also likely to be avid e-mail users. All told, the study found that 42% of social networkers check their e-mail four or more times a day, as compared to just 27% of those who don’t socialize online.

As the fusion gels, here are some tactics you’ll find marketers already using to combine the two, either by using pre-configured programs or by putting together applications of their own:

  1. Hold Twitter-Driven Contests: The immediacy of this medium perfectly lends itself to time-sensitive contests. Hold an answer-the-question contest once a week and reward the first person with the right answer with company product, company bucks or the like, and watch the tweets come in.
  2. Get the Most From Testimonials: Customer accolades look good on company websites but even better on customer Facebook pages. The most aggressive marketers in this area start by e-mailing a customer for a testimonial on a product or service shortly after the item is purchased. Customers who respond with glowing reviews—and often a related digital photo—get the testimonial posted to the company website. In addition, the authors are e-mailed again with a request to re-post the testimonial on their Facebook accounts or in Twitter tweets to all of their friends. Willing participants often receive a small reward for their service.
  3. Embed Social Network Testimonials in E-mails: Sometimes, spontaneous testimonials pop up on Facebook and Twitter without any prodding whatsoever. Such promotional gifts can be easily cut and pasted into the next marketing e-mail—with a grateful nod, of course, to the author.
  4. Reach Out to Top Influencers in New Ways: With the ability to monitor social networking activity like never before, marketers are becoming very creative about reaching out and partnering. Many of the e-mail/social media suites and services, for example, allow them to input an entire customer e-mail list and instantly identify the e-mail addresses on that list owned by people who have hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of friends on Facebook and similar social networks. Marketers can then reach out to these people via e-mail and partner with them on word-of-mouth promotions. Many of the new programs can also track the referrals that these influencers generate and verify which influencers are ultimately creating the greatest number of conversions in terms of sales or some other desired action. Subsequently, la crème de la crème can be rewarded most heavily and primed for a series of unfolding word-of-mouth promotions.
  5. Fish Where the Fish Are: Running an e-mail database through some of these more sophisticated programs can also yield an interesting picture of where your customers “hang out.” You may find, for example, that the greatest percentage of your customers use Twitter more than Facebook. Consequently, you’ll be able to put your digital marketing dollars where they’ll reach the greatest percentage of
    your customers.
  6. Give People a Reason to “Like” You on Facebook: Only a few months old, the “Like” button on Facebook has become one of the most coveted clicks on the marketing world. When someone “likes” your company on Facebook, your product or service becomes quantifiably more important and more desirable. Many Facebookers click the “Like” button in the hopes that they’ll get a freebie from the company. Don’t disappoint. If at all possible, offer a coupon or some other tangible reward for the endorsement.
  7. Optimize Your E-mail for Social Media: This is really step one in any synthesis campaign and should be a part of every e-mail marketing campaign, no questions asked. Such optimization is as easy as adding links to the key social networks in your e-mails, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. There’s also a ShareThis button you can add to your e-mail that instantly offers clickable access to dozens of social networking sites. 
Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan, New York.

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