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Pinning Down Pinterest’s Business Value

Here's an article I wrote for MarketingProfs:

What gets you interested in a new social media platform?  A mention of it from a friend? An article tweeted to you from a trusted social media insider? Maybe clever prose draws you in.

After trying out a new social media platform, you may then decide that it needs to be part of your routine. Likewise, all the big players online had that moment in which they changed their thinking about a new platform. They made the shift from “I’m going to create an account and check it every once in a while” to “This needs to be part of my daily communications routine.”

Is the popular online pinboard Pinterest needed in your daily routine? It just might be.

What I find encouraging about Pinterest right now is that it seems to answer the call for curation. After all, Pinterest provides a visual snapshot of everything you like all in one place. And avid social media users are now receiving information faster than they know what to do with—or, more importantly, than they can tell others about.

But what about Pinterest for business?

The Business Side of Pinterest

In a recent survey of businesses that described themselves as “active” in the social space, they were asked, “Is your business using Pinterest?”

They responded in the following manner.

  • No, and we’re not considering it: 40.38%
  • Yes: 30.77%
  • No, but we’re considering it: 28.85%

Currently, Pinterest claims over 13 million users. Having attained them in 10 months makes Pinterest the fastest social media platform to surpass the 10 million mark. Of those, in the United States, 83% are women and 3% report an income above 100K.

Pinterest’s sweet spot appears to be women aged 18 to 34, living in households with incomes between $25,000 and $75,000 per year. The site has a very feminine look and feel about it. The opening page is predominantly wallpapered with images of women’s outfits, DIY craft projects, recipes, and wedding dresses.

Though Pinterest may be best at driving engagement and sharing, it recently got beat to the e-commerce punch by Fancy. Fancy allows users to participate in many of the same activities as Pinterest, but Fancy lets users purchase the same products and services that enjoy “fancyings” directly on the platform. That is a major step towards fusing curating and commerce.

Two brands on Pinterest that caught my eye immediately were Bergdorf Goodman and HGTV. Pins from the former are a mixture of products from bergdorfgoodman.com and web images chosen to appeal to their customers. Images for HGTV subscribe to its self-described pinning strategy of “creating a team atmosphere and being inspirational.”

Both brands, like so many others right now, understand the importance of a coordinated cross-channel approach for retail within social. They know that building brand affinity leads to intent to purchase. But the brands have not solved the final piece of the puzzle: “Why should I buy what I pin?”

Despite this question, Pinterest continues picking up speed. Most insiders have already signed up. Probably because they are afraid to miss the next big thing (see Google+). Those folks who have not signed up are probably afraid to ask the question aloud.

I think Pinterest has a chance to own two niches.

1.) Pinterest could be the social media platform of choice for foodies. Pinterest seems to lend it itself to easily posting food pics, sharing recipes, and giving recommendations.

2.) Pinterest could establish itself as the de facto “scrapbooking” platform. For example, on Pinterest, you can easily display all the national parks or baseball stadiums you visited or planned to visit.

Additionally, businesses that have multiple destinations (e.g., hotels, chain restaurants, amusement parks) or that have visually appealing products should consider setting up an account and participating at an entry level.

Companies should participate in Pinterest without over-committing resources—yet. Using Pinterest to mirror your Facebook or Twitter activity just segments your audience and shows the early adopters that you’re not in Pinterest for the long haul. You need to use your Pinterest boards to show value, earn trust, and then refine your strategy.

How is your company using Pinterest?

Posted by: Dan Opallo at 9:40 AM
Categories: social media, pinterest, , social media marketing

The power of integration: Making email marketing work with social media marketing

Here's an article I wrote for New Media Knowledge:

It’s evident that consumers are changing the way they approach media, circumventing traditional marketing channels such as television and print media in favour of social media sites that provide easy access to information, advice and recommendations. While it is tempting to think of social media and email marketing as different channels that don’t complement each other—and certainly don’t have the potential to augment each other. Don’t fall to the temptation. Email marketing and social media can work together, help to optimise each other, and drive additional revenue.

Ever since people began flocking to Facebook and Twitter, marketers have been trying to find ways to leverage social media channels to acquire new customers and convince existing ones to buy more. Giants in the retail space initially piloted the trend by offering exclusive coupons on Twitter and Facebook. Eventually this led to every major company having a Facebook page and Twitter feed, and email marketers began sharing links to their emails.

As consumers find it easier to plug into the life streams of others, they are spending more time interacting on a variety of levels – from communicating their activities and commenting on those of others to sharing information that they deem helpful or entertaining. In essence, consumers are relying more on their networks to help determine what’s worth their attention, and less on mainstream media.

This shift requires marketers to think differently about how they spread the word about their products and services. On the social web, consumers often tune out traditional third-party banner ads, instead focusing on the endless stream of personally relevant information being served up by their friends. That’s where the new discipline of social media marketing comes into play, which enables companies to identify their biggest influencers online and develop programs that entice them to share relevant information and promotions.

Making social media work with email marketing isn’t automatic and it’s not easy. It requires careful planning and content management. Yes—many email service providers offer what they describe as “social media integration” and this works well for many people with smaller lists and smaller budgets. However, for the larger business with a bigger digital footprint, integration requires more effort plus a deeper and more detailed strategy. Want to know more about some proven ways to combine the power of email marketing with social media? Let’s say you’re a large company and you have a strong digital marketing platform that includes:

    • 1,000,000 Facebook Likes?

    • 2,000 Twitter followers

    • 4,000,000 email addresses

Now What? - Continue Building the Platform??

The numbers above are excellent and admirable, but let’s remember—the company with the largest database of engaged followers has a huge advantage over the competition.

    • Use email to encourage people and give them an incentive to “Like” you on Facebook and follow you on Twitter.

    • Use your Facebook platform to persuade people to sign up for the email database – and let them know you’re also on Twitter. ?

    • Use Twitter to encourage followers to engage with you via email and Facebook.

This effort to build the digital database must be constant and overlapping

Listen. Learn. Develop Your Content. ??

The focus group isn’t dead. But if you want to find out what your customers are thinking about, Facebook and Twitter are excellent resources. You can monitor social media accounts to discover what’s going on in the minds of your consumers or you can prod a little to gather this information. It can be easy: simply ask your consumers what they think about issues, products, services, and their lives in general. You can then tailor content around what you know is interesting to your public. Customers are talking about your business in person and on social media platforms. Respond and engage with them on social media and through emails. ??

Maintain a Theme but Don’t Self-Plagiarise?

It’s important to maintain brand integrity, but it’s a mistake to cut and paste content between the platforms. Keep the content theme consistent but repurpose it across the channels so it’s fresh and engaging. ?

Share the Testing Data?

You know which subject lines work for emails. Use the same lines in social media. Always be testing, then use the test results across the platforms.

Social Media, Social Proof

Harvest social proof and testimonials from social media and use them in emails and other communications. You can develop a sense of community, plus create buzz for all your channels.

“Only Available on Our Facebook Page For a Limited Time” ?

To get the audience jumping across platforms, use the old standards of direct marketing. Offers, geographic exclusivity, “must act before” calls to action, “Special preview only for Facebook friends”, and so on. ?

Although there’s little doubt that email and social media integration will eventually become the norm (some would say it is already), no one (to my knowledge) has come up with really compelling statistics to back up its effectiveness.

The industry as a whole is, for the most part, still in “anecdote mode” when it comes to integrating email marketing and social media marketing. However, it is safe to say that social is not killing email; they are not natural foes, but rather complementary channels that work hand in hand with their own strengths helping amplify the benefits of each.

Posted by: Kara Trivunovic at 10:23 AM
Categories: integration, email, email marketing, social media, social media marketing

Integrating Pinterest into Your Email Marketing

Pinterest is a frequent topic of conversation these days.  According to Hitwise, Pinterest is the third most popular social media site in terms of site visits, behind Facebook and Twitter.  Pinterest (as I am sure you are all aware) is ultimately a virtual pin board where consumers can grab images from their web surfing activity and pin them up on categorical boards that allow them to share and revisit the information as necessary. It is a channel that is visual in nature, currently draws a largely female audience, resonates topically with the home, fashion and food (amongst others) and is leveraged heavily for planning (think weddings, birthdays, vacation, etc.). So a good thing to remember is that it isn’t the best place to be for every brand…yet.

Pinterest Logo

According to a recent survey of over 4,800 US online consumers from the price comparison website PriceGrabber , 58% of respondents are not yet on Pinterest – and about 1/3 of those didn’t even know what it was.  But these numbers are anticipated to shift – making Pinterest a channel to watch – especially since the same survey found that 21% of those surveyed that did have Pinterest accounts had cited purchasing a product *specifically* after seeing the Pin.

The ability to integrate and leverage the email channel to build and grow a Pinterest presence is a relatively easy task to accomplish. Here are a couple quick tricks and “good-to-knows” about bringing these two channels together – beyond the act of adding a “follow us on Pinterest” icon in your standard social set:

1. Use Email to Announce Your Pinterest Presence
Your email subscribers are often your best customers. If your brand aligns with the demographic and psychographic make-up of the Pinterest user, there is no reason to not share your presence and the content available with your customers. One great example is how zulily has embraced its Pinterest presence by not only telling their subscribers what they can find on Pinterest, but also creating content specific to the channel via poster creation and even featuring an incentive to encourage Pinning from their site (See zulily email).

2. Include “Pin This” Icons on Individual Content Within Your Email
Including a Pinterest icon with a simple string of code is all you need to do to get your content from your email to your Board. You even have the ability to pass through a description to accompany the image – and descriptions in Pinterest are important. A few fun things to note here: if you include a dollar amount price in the description, Pinterest will automatically place a banner in the top, left hand side of the image feature the price; it will also place the Pin in the Gift Guides from the main drop down. Another fun note is that descriptions can also help impact SEO. Think the descriptions through as carefully as you choose your imagery.

3. Coordinate New Boards or Pins Around Email Deployment
If you are including references to Pinterest within your email communication, chances are your customers may visit your Pinterest Wall of various Boards following an email deployment. It is a good idea to have new content available when they get there. To that point, you should be putting up new content, arranging boards and managing the “above the fold” appearances of your Pinterest presence frequently to deter fatigue.

As you can imagine, this is an ever-evolving topic and new information is coming out by the minute it seems – we are just scratching the surface of what marketers can do with this channel, so look at this as a solid place to start and get to Pinning.

To hear more of my tips on marketing with Pinterest,  check out the on-demand version of StrongView’s recent webinar, “Put a Pin in It.”

Posted by: Kara Trivunovic at 10:20 AM
Categories: best practices, Pinterest, Social Media, Strategy

The Power of Integration. Making Email Marketing Work with Social Media Marketing

EmailMarketingIntegration

It’s tempting to think of social media and email marketing as different channels that don’t complement each other—and certainly don’t have the potential to augment each other. Don’t fall to the temptation. Email marketing and social media can work together, help to optimize each other, and drive additional revenue.
Making social media work with email marketing isn’t automatic and it’s not easy. It requires careful planning and content management. Yes—many email service providers offer what they describe as “social media integration” and this works well for many people with smaller lists and smaller budgets. However, for the larger business with a bigger digital footprint, integration requires more effort plus a deeper and more detailed strategy.
Want to know more about some proven ways to combine the power of email marketing with social media? Let’s say you’re a large company and you have a strong digital marketing platform that includes:

•    1,000,000 Facebook Likes
•    2,000 Twitter followers
•    4,000,000 email addresses

Now What?

Continue Building the Platform

The numbers above are excellent and admirable, but let’s remember—the company with the largest database of engaged followers has a huge advantage over the competition.

•    Use email to encourage and incentivize people to “Like” you on Facebook and follow you on Twitter.
•    Use your Facebook platform to persuade people to sign up for the email database – and let them know you’re also on Twitter.
•    Use Twitter to encourage followers to engage with you via email and Facebook.

This effort to build the digital database must be constant and overlapping

Listen. Learn. Develop Your Content.

The focus group isn’t dead. But if you want to find out what your customers are thinking about, Facebook and Twitter are excellent resources. You can monitor social media accounts to discover what’s going on in the minds of your consumers or you can prod a little to gather this information. It can be easy: simply ask your consumers what they think about issues, products, services, and their lives in general. You can then tailor content around what you know is interesting to your public.
Customers are talking about your business in person and on social media platforms. Respond and engage with them on social media and through emails.

Maintain a Theme but Don’t Self-Plagiarize

It’s important to maintain brand integrity, but it’s a mistake to cut and paste content between the platforms. Keep the content theme consistent but repurpose it across the channels so it’s fresh and engaging.

Share the Testing Data

You know which subject lines work for emails. Use the same lines in social media. Always be testing, then use the test results across the platforms.

Social Media, Social Proof.

Harvest social proof and testimonials from social media and use them in emails and other communications. You can develop a sense of community, plus create buzz for all your channels.

“Only Available on Our Facebook Page For a Limited Time”

To get the audience jumping across platforms, use the old standards of direct marketing. Offers, geographic exclusivity, “must act before” calls to action, “Special preview only for Facebook friends”, and so on.
    
Email marketing and social media may seem like an odd couple, but they can work extremely effectively together.

Posted by: Kara Trivunovic at 11:38 AM
Categories: Email marketing, social media

Email Marketing and Social Media Working Together in 2012

An advanced look at soon-to-be-published survey research from StrongView reveals that the number one focus of increased email marketing budgets in 2012 will be on growing traffic to social media channels. At 48%, promoting engagement and traffic to a brand's Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages edged out such email marketing staples as batch promotional (44%) and newsletter (39%), as well as one-to-one lifecycle marketing programs (35%).

Full details of the survey, including areas of increased and decreased budget across all marketing programs, will be published next week. However, this early insight into the findings highlights the complementary relationship between email marketing and social media.  As businesses build out their social media marketing strategies and begin to lure customers and prospects with engaging content, they are relying on email to increase membership and participation in these channels. And rightfully so. Email remains an extremely effective channel for driving awareness with a highly targeted audience and prompting them to action.

Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites already rely on email to keep their members informed of recent activity within their social networks, with the end goal of getting them to click through and drive more traffic to their sites. Brands can use email marketing and social media together in a similar way to increase traffic by informing customers of relevant new content on their social media channels. By targeting valued social media content to customers based on preference and purchase data, brands can build trusted relationships that are the core of any successful social media effort.

Of course email can also play a critical role in alerting members to a brand's social media sites in the first place. Integrating banner ads promoting corporate social media pages into existing email programs is an easy first step. For a more targeted effort, services provided by Fliptop or Rapleaf can identify which members of an email list are active on which social networks, thereby enabling marketers to send standalone campaigns to get them to like, follow or otherwise interact with the brand on those pages.

The email marketing and social media relationship is bi-directional. Brands can use their social media sites to promote signing up for regular email marketing communications. Additionally, as discussed in a recent post on Monetizing Social Media, consumer social media activity also presents email marketers with a wealth of data for improving targeting. Whether leveraging data from customers who "like" you on Facebook or analyzing brand sentiment on Twitter, brands can increase their knowledge of customers' preferences to fine-tune future communications.

2012 will be a big year for social media marketing, and email will be one of the core tools that marketers use to make those efforts successful.  Full survey results will be posted to www.StrongView.com next week and covered more extensively in the December Advisor.

Interested in reading more about email marketing best practices? Try giving one of our other blogs a look.  

Posted by: Jason Klein at 2:58 PM
Categories: email marketing, social media, survey

Determining the Value of Email Marketing Subscribers Versus Facebook Fans -- Why It’s Important Now.

Facebook has become a media force to be reckoned with for large B2C brand marketers.  If I had a dollar for every time I've recently been asked if a brand should apply more of their marketing dollars to Facebook or email... I could buy a great pair of shoes :)

The answer is of course - it depends on your business. 

But for most online retailers, it can be summed up in two simple words:  addressable media.   If your email marketing plan and revenue model relies on reaching your customers directly to drive sales using offers and promotions, the value of an email will prevail.  But why guess.  With simple analysis you can get answers and know just how much of your marketing dollars to apply to both.

Research shows that somewhere between 40%-50% of Facebook fans are also email subscribers.  That's a significant correlation but it makes sense.  Your best brand advocates are likely fans and I'm betting also active in email.   This also means that a subset of your Facebook fans will crossover in your analysis.  Obviously a fan who is also a subscriber is a key influencer.  It’s the subset of email only subscribers or Facebook only fans and their level of activity that will provide the perspective you need.

The question then becomes what to do about it.  

For the Crocs brand the value of an email address outweighs the value of a Facebook fan.  Reaching customers directly is a clear and measurable driver of revenue, so knowing this they drive email signups from Facebook.   Currently, 12% of their net new email sign ups come from Facebook.

Crocs Facebook

I learned during a recent conversation with an analyst from a large regional discount retailer, that a Facebook fan has more value.  An investment in addressable media, or email marketing in this case, may not be their strong suit since their product is already heavily discounted so offers are not part of their promotional arsenal.  

Start by talking to your analytics lead to establish these values.   If you haven’t gone there already, companies like Rapleaf can help you to access the data.   Your Facebook to email ratio is going to differ from other brands as it is dependent on your brand equity, marketing model and marketing efforts thus far.   But that’s a good gauge that your brand equity is healthy.

Your marketing plans should be much clearer from here.   But, before drawing conclusions and committing marketing dollars to Facebook, you should be confident that your email strategy and tactics thus far have been stellar.  Email remains a powerful demand generation force with undeniable ROI.   If you are not practicing best-in-class email marketing, you may not be giving your audience the right opportunities to purchase and engage to drive revenue.  See the latest trends in email marketing that are driving engagement.

More on the value of addressable media and how to drive engagement, sign ups and likes from email to Facebook and back in my next blogs.  Stay tuned!

Want some more email marketing resources? Check out our white papers!

Posted by: Laura Crawford at 10:57 AM
Categories: email marketing, FaceBook, social media strategies, social media practices, social media marketing

Sharing Tools in Email Marketing: The Social Media Call to Action?

Before the rise of social media sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, content was typically spread through email – the first social network. Web visitors and email recipients that liked a piece of content would email it to their friends and they, in turn, would do the same.

This had the potential to spread content visibility faster than search engines but sharing options were still limited. Today, email marketing campaign still hold the lion's share of content visibility at about half of the total content sharing on the Internet. However, social media has provided an interesting way for email marketers to increase their reach while using sharing tools as quick and effective calls to action.

What are social sharing tools and what can they do for email marketing?

In short, social sharing tools are the small icons that say things like "retweet" or "share this". A good example is StrongView’s Social Notes.

These buttons allow readers to not only favorite your content, but send it to their friends via email and social media.

However implementing social sharing tools in your emails and on your website is only part of the job. In order to be shared, the content has to be share-worthy in the first place. Stop and ask yourself... would I forward this on? What about this is interesting and valuable? If you can't answer those questions, it's time to go back to the drawing board.

Choosing sharing tools and social platforms for your emails

One of the most common mistakes that email marketers make is trying to do too much with a single email. This is often manifested as a vast forest of tabs targeting every social media network.

Just as you need to evaluate your content, it is important that you think about who your audience is and determine which social networks and social media channels they use the most. This will help you select a social sharing tool that will best facilitate the sharing of your content. Remember that more options isn't always better. Sometimes too many options can detract from the user experience.

You can follow these steps when building a sharing tool strategy for social media and email marketing integration.

1. Content Research: what types of content are shared most often?

Alternatively, which topics tend to quickly turn stagnant? Use the reporting in your sharing platform to understand what people like and don't like. Modify your content creation strategies to feed them more of what they love.

2. Ask: marketing power comes from an audience that is willing to provide feedback.
Ask your readers which social media sites and applications they prefer and what motivates them to share content. Choose sharing tools and options that meet their needs and address their feedback.

3. Expand and Test: Add more sharing tools and social media.
If a piece of content is already doing well in email sharing, try adding social media sharing options. This can revive old content and enable you to fairly benchmark sharing sites against each other.

Why should email marketers use sharing tools?

The average Internet visitor is primarily concerned with speed. How fast can they get the information they need and how quickly can they share it with others.

If you provide sharing tools within your email marketing campaigns, you can give them a quick way to send interesting content to their networks. In a way, these sharing tools function in much the same way as calls to action.

By providing these tools throughout the content after key points or powerful statements (not just at the bottom), you can give your reader a quick way to connect with their friends through similar interests, benefiting your brand.

Do you want more tips to leverage the power of social media in email marketing? Discover StrongView’s integrated social media and email marketing solutions and download the Email in the Age of Social Media white paper to learn how to effectively integrate social media into your email marketing campaigns.

Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 2:27 PM
Categories: content sharing, email marketing, share button, share to social, sharing buttons, sharing tool, sharing tools, social media and email, social media campaign, social sharing, twitter clients

The Integration of Social Media and Email Marketing: The Power of Customer Engagement

Social media is playing an increasing role in customer engagement. However, as Econsultancy found in their 2009 Customer Engagement Report, email marketing remains by far the most important customer engagement tactic.

Since that report was published, a new study by eMarketer showed that when social media and email marketing are combined it strengthens the reach and viral marketing potential of both marketing channels.

However, the real power of the integration of social media and email marketing lies in the ability to engage customers in conversation. It is about generating word-of-mouth and enabling people to engage in conversation with your business when and where they want. Marketers today must embrace the power of online customer conversations and facilitate them using whichever channel the customer prefers.

According to every major study released in the last several years, that channel is most likely going to be email, followed by the web and increasingly social media. Hotmail recently surveyed their users and found that the top three reasons people have a Hotmail account all have to do with communicating with businesses, whether it be to keep up with a company’s developments via newsletter, receive transactional email confirmations or get special offers and discounts.

The power of customer engagement: why social media and email marketing are best friends

Earned media is defined as awareness gained through publicity or grass roots action, and this term has taken on new meaning with the advent of social media. By analyzing your subscriber database and empowering them to spread the word about your brand through viral marketing, your customers can literally become your most effective "earned" marketing channel.

To accomplish this, start by looking at your email database. Who are your most profitable customers? Who are opening and clicking on your emails the most? Who are the most engaged with your brand? These segments should be your first targets for an integrated social campaign. Key rules of thumb when designing your campaign include:

- Give them something to talk about. This is social, after all. What about your message is worth sharing with someone else? If you can’t answer that question, you shouldn’t launch the social email campaign.

- Make the conversation seamless. Use email as the launchpad to start a conversation.

- Move from listening to engaging. Customer engagement is about creating relationships that result in value for both customers and businesses. Listen to your customers, engage in conversation with them and inspire other customers to chime in where appropriate.

- Use the right technology. Make it as easy as possible for people to share your message and take it viral in social media. Plus, you’ll need detailed tracking on how well your program is performing, including reach, engagement and conversion metrics for the C-Suite.

Discover StrongView’s integrated social media and email marketing solutions and download the “Email in the Age of Social Media” white paper to learn how to effectively drive customer engagement with an integrated campaign. If you simply want to engage your customers via social media and learn how to turn Twitter and Facebook into revenue generating channels, check out our social media solutions.

Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 11:02 AM
Categories: Facebook, customer engagement, earned media, econsultancy, email in the age of social media, email marketing, emarketer, hotmail, social media, social media management, twitter, viral marketing

Leveraging the Combined Strength of Social Media and Email Marketing

Kara Trivunovic recently talked about the importance of the convergence of email marketing and social media and how both marketing channels are complementary.

Interviewed by Mike McDonald of WebProNews at the Online Marketing Summit 2010, she said that several aspects of social media and email have the potential to come into play together and allow businesses to expand the reach of their existing offers.

When combined, email marketing and social media allow marketeers to expand their customer base in a way that was not possible through email only. In particular, leveraging both channels can be an effective tool for gaining new subscribers.

When Mike highlighted a statistic that was presented at the event, stating that 50% of all content is still shared via email, Kara replied that about 86% of people in StrongView client programs choose to share via email, the rest via Twitter and Facebook.

Sharing and sharing tools key when integrating social media and email marketing.

Kara further explained how StrongView enables businesses to improve their email marketing campaign performance by combining the proven ROI of email with the power of social media to reach new audiences.

Today, businesses need to create integrated campaigns to leverage the natural synergies of these two channels to boost customer acquisition, retention and loyalty while generating more revenue.

According to Kara, there are three ways to integrate email marketing and social media:

1. Share with your network:

To engage evangelizers to share content, email is a great channel. But also provide other options to share including social media sharing tools.

2. Leverage as a medium to incentivize current customer base
Use social media and email marketing to drive additional subscribers, and to create awareness about your programs.

3. Acquire customers through referrals and shared content
Email is important since it still is the main channel to enable people to share information through emails, of which at least 90% can be converted. Emails do enjoy higher conversion rates.

Finally, Kara explained how StrongView has embraced the integration of social media marketing and email marketing to make this integration work for StrongView customers and businesses, seeking to leverage the power of both social and email.

From a technology viewpoint, StrongView offers a referral marketing platform StrongView Influencer, a social media management application called Social Direct and a social sharing tool called Social Notes.

Customers of StrongView’s email marketing solutions can use these tools as part of the platform while our email and social media marketing strategists (led by Kara) help you get the most out of the integration.

To learn how to effectively integrate social media into your email marketing campaigns, please download the “Email in the Age of Social Media” white paper.

You can watch the full interview below.


Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 12:39 PM
Categories: social notes, social media, social direct, online marketing summit 2010, new customer acquisition, email marketing, Kara Trivunovic, socialized email marketing, strongmail influencer, webpronews

The State of the Email Marketing Industry 2010

Bruce Biegel, Managing Director of The Winterberry Group gave a very interesting keynote at the Email Insider Summit in Captiva Island, Florida last week. He presented his outlook on the email marketing industry from an investor’s perspective, including shifts in marketing spending, email revenue projections and mergers and acquisitions. The content was so valuable, that I have recapped his presentation for you here.

First the good news. According to Biegel, GDP Growth is back. Q309 officially marked the end of the recession; however, unemployment is still up, which is holding back spending. Companies are finally shifting dollars back into new customer acquisition, but they’re doing it cautiously because spending is lagging. We are seeing some growth in advertising, but not a lot. Surprisingly, television advertising is up 5.6%, while everything else is still down. Print advertising has been hit the hardest, with a significant amount of marketers abandoning it in favor of digital channels. According to Beigel, U.S. digital ad spending in the US will hit $154.3 billion in 2010.

The Winterberry Group focuses their investments exclusively on the Advertising and Marketing industries, and is therefore in touch with a broad swath of marketing technology providers and agencies. To stay current with market demand, Winterberry is seeing a widespread trend where traditional offline agencies are attempting to move into digital marketing.

Marketing Budgets Are Shifting Online
The good news for email marketing providers is that we’ve already mastered the digital space and continue to innovate in it. To keep pace with increased demand, email suppliers are increasing their staffing levels. Email is the #1 area where marketers are increasing spend, but that shift isn’t showing up in the marketing forecast because of declining CPM fees and the fact that marketers have slashed their budgets during the recession.

Of the $1.4 billion that Forrester Research projects will be spent on email marketing in 2010, 80% of email marketing spend is in retention marketing, 17% is spent on acquisition marketing and 3% is spent on transactional or event-triggered email. Acquisition direct mail spend is making a small come back, but retention direct mail spend is moving almost entirely to email. According to Biegel, if email can pick up a fraction of direct mail spend, it will beat its forecast. He predicts that email marketing spend will hit $1.6 billion instead of $1.4 billion in 2010 because of this shift.

The Move Towards Relevant Messaging
Marketers have started consolidating data and systems down to one centralized system so that they can leverage it to send targeted, personalized communications based on specified preferences and behavior. Surprisingly, only 16% of e-commerce companies send personalized or behavior-based email, leaving a huge market for that type of integration. According to Biegel, there is more data available from online transactions than there has been in the offline database in its entirety. This is a lot to manage, so there is a big push by enterprises to consolidate those reams of data down into a single source and make it actionable.

To plug into this new centralized data structure, email marketing providers today are moving towards becoming an "integrated campaign execution stack." Biegel’s message to ESP’s is that if you only provide email, you'll be left behind. When selecting an email marketing vendor, he recommends that marketers look for a provider who offers email in conjunction with social, mobile, e-commerce and analytics integration, services, and an international presence.

Will Social Media Kill Email? Absolutely Not.
Email marketing is still the most powerful way to reach consumers. When asked if social media is going to kill email, Biegel stressed that social media is a partner to email. It's not going to stand alone or replace it. Interestingly, he pointed out that of the $1.2 billion projected for social media spend in 2009, $700 million of that figure is display advertising and $200 million of it is applications. Should that really be categorized as social media spending or is that display and mobile? This drives home how pervasive social media is and how it touches multiple departments and marketing channels. As the wild social frontier continues to evolve, email marketers can rest easy knowing that the channel still remains the backbone of business critical communications.

Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 8:36 PM
Categories: the winterberry group, social media, industry forecast, forrester research, email marketing integration, email marketing, digital ad spending