Digital Marketing Insights

The Five A’s of Social Integration with Email (and Beyond!)

I’m not going to waste your time. After all, you may be a marketer, but you’re also a consumer, so I know you’re busier than ever.  You’re out there communicating cross-channel, juggling that mobile device with a Starbucks in your other hand, catching bits and bytes of the barrage of business and consumer information like a true cape-wearing superhero on espresso.
So, let’s get right down to why you’re reading this.  Your email program is working well, for the most part.  All email and web systems are go (or at least in motion). But even with everything aiming for the sky, there’s always that competitor (or, villain, if you really want to embrace the superhero analogy) out there doing something that keeps you awake at night. There’s that voice in your head that asks, how do we save Gotham and put more life into our consumer lifecycle?

So, let’s adjust that cape and explore how social integration offers five key ways to strengthen your email and cross-channel strategies across owned, earned and even paid media.

The journey begins with the acquisition of a consumer opting in to an ongoing relationship. That can mean setting up an account, opting into email, signing up for SMS communications or even catalogs and direct mail. How can social help? A lot.

Start by integrating your call-to-action for acquisition across social channels. Have a Facebook page? Integrate a tab for email sign-up. But don’t stop there. Let consumers know about the value of your email program within social stream content. Expand the message across your social networks to reach different segments. Use Pinterest contests as an acquisition channel. Post to Twitter feeds about the exclusive email content you have available. Start with a strategic direction that supports your key goals and cross-promote to acquire interested parties.

When you have the consumer at your doorstep ready to opt-in, consider providing social login as one option – and be sure to reinforce the consumer value, i.e. that it’s an easy, fast-track method of registering for a program that will bring them defined benefits.

The value of adding social data to your marketing efforts can be mighty. Social login harnesses a validated email address used in a social channel, meaning better data and list hygiene, which translates into stronger deliverability on day one. Sites like TripAdvisor, ShopYourWay and AirBNB have made social login the standard, lifting consumer expectations for streamlined, integrated experiences.

Social can also amplify and build on key messaging, as well as generate new content to leverage across channels. Today, consumers are empowered to contribute and share a treasure trove of user-generated content. TripAdvisor recently reported that one-third of their 150 million reviews were written in 2013.  The study also found that more than half of respondents worldwide want to look at reviews before booking hotels, with 80 percent of respondents reading 6 to 12 reviews prior to booking.

User-generated content, such as reviews and social commentary, and the sharing of this content, provides a halo of messaging amplification with minimal effort and cost.  Sharing is soaring. Marketers that enable consumers to share messaging across the journey are amplifying messaging with valuable and trusted earned media impressions.

A very straightforward tactic is making a share function available to post content (products, promotions review content) directly to social networks. Amazon and many others enable sharing post-purchase and at other key points. Discover Card’s long running influencer referral campaign, tapping StrongView’s Influencer Marketing solution, amplifies program messaging via referrals to generate qualified acquisitions. Sharing is a natural extension of good content – people want to pass it on.

At the end of the day, it’s all about activation – getting the consumer to convert and take action. This can mean clicking to purchase the tights to go with a favorite cape, submitting review content, voting for a favorite look, opening or clicking on an email, participating in a Pinterest promotion and more.

Social integration across the lifecycle provides a boost to ongoing consumer engagement and activation. Think about TripAdvisor and the emails they send telling me my friend likes a certain resort. I most certainly open those emails, since they’re relevant to me and related to my personal network, ultimately peaking my interest in similar vacation experiences. And, when my superhero friends share the latest cape styles on Facebook and Pinterest, of course I want to take a closer look.

Key influencer segments are active in the social sphere sharing their input on products, services and experiences. These valued consumers are stepping up to be a voice for the brand, delivering incredible value, relevancy and credibility. Tapping social sentiment provides an opportunity to drive segmentation strategies focused on advocates, encouraging them to share their enthusiasm. For example, Yelp is in the business of reviews and the Yelp Elite program targets key contributors and influencers to cultivate ongoing relationships. Many brands focus on influencer segments that will help amplify positive messaging and contribute powerful user-generated content.

To encourage advocates, many marketers are identifying loyalists and advocates and offering them unique experiences and incentives to engage in key actions. Online reviews is one content area where advocates (and non-advocates) have a strong voice, and boosting the advocate voice is crucial. Blogs are another channel to encourage advocates to help promote your brand. Identifying and cultivating advocates fuels positive, highly relevant user-generated content.

Last, but not least, superheroes need to quantify their results. How many buildings did you leap over? How are social efforts adding value? What is the impact across channels? The key is to stay nimble and continue to look at social impact as new initiatives are deployed and the space continues to evolve.

A starting point is assessing all the data points you can reign in across all channels. Next, determine measurable goals to drive towards and begin to measure against them. Put a stake in the ground and learn as you go, since social channels are ever-evolving.  Social may not be as predictable as email performance, but it can be used in tandem to enhance aggregate cross-channel results.

Flying with the Five As
So, cape or no cape, marketers today need to take a leap and determine strategies to integrate social tactics across the customer lifecycle. Social integration can make your consumers heroes.   So put a jet pack on your cross-channel marketing by following these five As of social integration:

  • Acquisition – Gain access to more customers and valuable data attributes
  • Amplification – Boost message reach via social amplification
  • Activation –- Drive conversion action!
  • Advocacy – Identify and cultivate strong advocates and influencers
  • Attribution – Give credit where credit is due by outlining goals and measuring channel contribution

Let us know if you are considering any new initiatives that fall into the five As of social integration – or if your marketing program has already taken flight, share your success stories and lessons learned!

Posted by: Catherine Magoffin at 9:53 AM
Categories: social, social integration, email

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

Is There Such a Thing as Over-Integration for Your Email Program?

Here's an article I wrote for Mediapost:

Wednesday was my birthday, and I spent the day on the road traveling for business. When I finally reached my destination, I was determined to celebrate my birthday. Thankfully, I like the folks I am traveling with, so we opted to go to a local bar for a beer and bite to eat. It was late, and I was hungry. We decided that the first "interesting" thing to jump off the menu was going to be dinner. And so it was that this crazy-ass burger found its way to my table.

At MediaPost's Email Insider Summit in Park City, I heard stories of this burger but have never seen it elsewhere, until now. This thing consists of a half pound of greasy burger, topped with nothing short of a mound of caramelized onions – wedged between two grilled cheese sandwiches. While this sounded lovely in theory, the reality was a bit disappointing (and maybe slightly painful). And in true "me" fashion, I have found a way to liken this to the email channel...chewing on the question, "is it possible to over-integrate other marketing channels with email?"

Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

Email is a versatile channel that sits at the core of most digital marketing programs. Let's face it; even Twitter just launched an email program. But integrating solely for the purpose of saying you did it, doesn't make it right. As you look at the unique value proposition of each of the channels you leverage, you should be asking yourself the strategic question of where these channels complement one another (if they do at all) and then find logical ways to leverage them to enhance the customer experience. Too often we get caught up in the ability to "say" we did something versus setting out with the goal to accomplish something measurable and meaningful.

Fool Me Once, Shame on Me; Fool Me Twice, Shame on You

There is nothing wrong with trying something new; however, if that initial experience doesn't meet expectations, you may never do it again. Much like my burger.... I am in no hurry to get another one, ever. It is important to truly think through the entire experience for your customer and how they will interpret the overall engagement across channels. If the initial experience for the customer is disjointed, they may see your program as novel versus valuable. Of course, as we all work to determine how best to integrate channels (and tell a cohesive story across the digital media), you can course-correct, but it needs to be thoughtful. Otherwise, if the customer does give you that second chance, you might just blow it.

It's Not About What You Said, It's Not About What You Did, It's How You Made Me Feel

As you look towards channel integration, it is important to keep the "warm and fuzzy" in mind. Customers likely have some sort of emotional response to your brand, your marketing, your overall message – and you want that to be as positive as possible. Consumers' emotional connection with different channels can vary. Their expectations of email versus social versus display ad marketing are not likely the same, so consider each potential connection as you make your integration plans. While leveraging display ad re-targeting driven by email engagement can create a succinct experience for the customer after they leave your email, it could also be interpreted as a bit "big brother." You don't want the customer to feel like you are following them around the web – but you do want to make a lasting and positive impression.

While I don't regret the burger.... I certainly won't do that again. As you sit around a conference table pontificating the various integration points with your email program, remember my burger...and ask yourself, "Will I regret this in the morning?"

Posted by: Kara Trivunovic at 10:07 AM
Categories: integration, email, email program, over-integration

Email Marketing to Your Best Customers - An Apple Story

In my latest MediaPost Email Insider column, I explain how Apple missed an opportunity to leverage all the data they had about my interactions with their brand to serve up relevant information - essentially to recognize and capitalize on my status as one of their more loyal customers. Read the article online or below to find out how they started out strong with their email marketing communications and then failed to follow through with the same level of relevance in future communications.

Why Won't Apple Love Me Back?

MediaPost Email Insider

Ryan Deutsch, Nov 11, 2010 02:30 PM

For those of you who don't know me, I am an Apple Freak. Ever since my first iPod, I have been enthralled with the brand and its products. As an email marketer, I have often used Apple communications as examples of best-in-class email marketing programs. However, today I must admit that there seems to be something lacking in the way my favorite brand communicates with me via email. If I'm truly honest with myself, the latest email programs I have received from Apple suffer from a common problem that plagues business-to-consumer brands. Let me paint the picture....

A few years back, I purchased my first iPhone, an iPhone 3G (I know, why didn't I have a first generation iPhone, but that's a whole other story). Anyway, as you can imagine, I was uber-excited at the time and anxious to dig into the phones features. Like any good Apple customer, I waited in line for the device and then played hooky from work so I could set it up. A few days later, I received my welcome email from Apple. To this day I consider it one of the best triggered-welcome messages I have ever received.

The communication welcomed me to my new phone, provided extensive education opportunities so I could enjoy the myriad of features, introduced me to the app store and some top applications that I should consider purchasing, and so on. We all know that there are some basic building blocks to any welcome program. Welcome emails should connect with the consumer, set expectations about the type of dialogue the consumer can expect via the email channel, confirm opt-in and address housekeeping items like add-to-address book, etc. However, more than anything else, a welcome email should add value to the new relationship between the consumer and the brand. This "value" sets the tone for the inbox-based relationship going forward. Apple did all of this and more.

Like many others, I stood in line a few months ago and purchased an iPhone 4. I repeated the steps described above and once again, a few days post-purchase, I received my iPhone 4 welcome email. As I looked at the message (a similar yet scaled-back version of the original I received with the iPhone 3G), something just did not feel right. The message just did not seem addressed to me; in fact, I immediately realized that this EXACT same message could be sent to every new iPhone 4 owner. I felt slighted. I'm not just any iPhone owner! In fact, I considered myself an Apple evangelist.

Since my iPhone3G purchase, I had stopped by the Apple store and bought a Time Machine, headphones (the expensive wireless Motorola Rokr S9-HD) an iPad (the big one!), another iPhone for my wife, a Mophie Juicepak Air for my 3G -- and the list goes on and on. Yet here I was, being treated as if I'd woken up on the morning of the iPhone 4 release and become just another first-time Apple customer. Slowly, I relaxed and talked myself into believing that Apple has some solid reason for not understanding our relationship. After all, they're Apple. Steve Jobs looks good in those black mock-turtlenecks, and I can forget one minor slip-up. When I forget what kind of cake my wife likes on her birthday each year, I expect her to understand and forgive, right?

I was calm for about 97 seconds. That was when I noticed the stack of iTunes gift cards on the desk. My son had just had a birthday, and we'd bought him an iPod Touch. He also raked in like $50 in iTunes gift cards. I opened iTunes (on my iMac) and took a look at the purchases I had made over the years. Movies, music, books, applications -- I swear, I've spent more on content with iTunes than I have at the Apple Store! I looked back at the iPhone message -- nothing about books, movies, application, etc. Not only had they not acknowledged my value as an Apple customer, they'd completely ignored my ecommerce relationship on iTunes. To Apple, the retail store and iTunes may be separate lines of business, but to me, they are one and the same. In fact, it is the seamless relationship between content on iTunes and the Apple devices that keeps me coming back for more. That's was it I promised myself that one day, I would share the experience via a blog post.... Mission accomplished.

The takeaway is that consumers expect a higher standard today. We expect this higher standard not from every brand or every email communication. There are many emails that I subscribe to that are a necessary element of a rather passive business-to-consumer relationship. I subscribe, I open, but I rarely buy. I am fine with these brands treating me like the number that I am.

But there are a select few brands that are special -- brands that I have committed to through loyalty based on repeat purchases, online advocacy and overall brand engagement. To these brands I should be considered a "Best Customer" and treated accordingly.

I expect these brands to make the effort to analyze data warehouses, ecommerce systems and CRM solutions to create a picture of our relationship and leverage that picture across communications and offers. As an email marketer, I understand that the 360-degree customer view I am referring to is not always easily achieved. However, I have worked on projects with clients that have accomplished this and treated their best customers in a way that inspires advocacy, loyalty and brand engagement.

If you are involved with email marketing, CRM or ecommerce at a large consume- focused brand, take a look at your communications. Think about your best customers. Are you treating the relationship with respect? Apple isn't -- and come on, this is Apple we are talking about. These guys invented the Mac, iPod, iPhone and iPad, so please forgive me if I think it's within their scope of abilities to create customer-focused email marketing programs!

Posted by: Ryan Deutsch at 2:41 PM
Categories: 360-degree customer view, apple, data integration, email marketing, iphone, one-to-one messaging

Email Marketing & Its Critical Role in The Evolution Towards Real-Time Marketing

SAP and Unica both held their annual user conferences last week in the same city – Orlando. Both events highlighted a fundamental shift that’s underway in the world of B2C marketing. Corporations are moving from near-time to real-time marketing communications, where they can immediately serve up personalized experiences to consumers interacting with their brand across multiple channels. This might sound next to impossible, but for companies that use multichannel campaign management (MCCM) solutions like those offered by SAP and Unica, there is a real opportunity to reap the benefits of real-time marketing – and email marketing is one of the most effective channels for executing on that strategy.

MCCM solutions make it possible for companies to capture customer information across multiple touch points and then make that data readily available to drive campaigns. The advent of social media has forced companies to start looking at customer experience holistically, rather than continuing to operate in disparate marketing silos. Loyal customers expect a brand to know who they are and what they like, regardless of what channel they choose to interact with the brand through. Real-time marketing enables companies to achieve a new level of relevancy that meets customer expectations and drive significantly higher response rates and revenue per customer. Companies that chose to embark on such a significant undertaking will have a critical competitive differentiator in the coming years.

Email marketing is fast emerging as the common thread that links all of these customer interactions together. It is the hub of all digital marketing conversations and the unique identifier in many customer databases. A cutting-edge example of real-time marketing comes from Unica marketing excellence award honoree Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG). When someone books a room online at one of IHG's 4,400 global properties, they automatically receive a confirmation email that is tailored to the individual based on their loyalty status, the hotel location, their purchase history and specified preferences. No two confirmation emails are alike. At the time of booking, IHG's online reservation system communicates with StrongView and Unica Interact to deliver a unique, targeted email to that individual in less than 2 seconds. Soon this real-time personalization will be extended to the web, providing a seamless customer experience between channels.

Brands are quickly realizing that the days of batch and blast are over. Not only are they becoming increasingly ineffective, they are also alienating customers who expect companies to send messages that reflect their relationship with the brand. Campaign management systems like Unica and SAP CRM are making real-time marketing possible, and tight integrations with email marketing, web, mobile and social media channels are necessary for delivering these unique experiences to the consumer.

Smart marketers know that one-to-one marketing is the best way to generate revenue and customer satisfaction, and StrongView works with leading campaign management vendors to put true one-to-one marketing within your reach. For more information on using email marketing and CRM together to deliver targeted, personalized messages, you can view our on-demand webinar "Email Marketing with SAP CRM: Achieving Relevance, Deliverability and Scale."

Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 2:41 PM
Categories: email marketing, integration, intercontinental hotels group, mccm, multi-channel campaign management, real-time marketing, sap crm, unica

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

Integrating Email Solutions and Print

Thought you might find this story interesting when integrating email solutions with print:

Posted by: Sam Cece at 11:30 AM
Categories: email marketing and print; email marketing integration