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Crossover Learnings Between Email And Social Media

February 18th, 2010 Posted in Email, Social Media

by Chad White

What Email Can Learn from Social Networks

Expressing personality. Most brands can no longer afford to be faceless entities. The interactivity and transparency of the Internet has elevated the need for personality. Luckily, there are several ways to do this: You can use an executive as TigerDirect does, staff members like Crutchfield, or your customers like REI. The most poignant expression of personality I’ve seen recently is Backcountry’s memorial message for skier Shane McConkey.

Expressing a sense of community. People want discounts and helpful information, but many also want to be part of a community. Including product testimonials from product reviews on your site is one way to do this. Backcountry goes a step further and highlights its top contributors in its monthly newsletter.

Mark Brownlow of Email Marketing Reports recently suggested another way to build a community feel: adding social proof to your email sign-up process, such as a running count of how many subscribers you have. Thanks to blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, subscriber counts are a well-established and highly promoted measurement of legitimacy and influence. I haven’t seen anyone try this yet, but the idea is intriguing.

What Social Networks Can Learn from Email

Providing exclusivity. Email subscribers appreciate it when they get exclusive deals and information not available to your Web site visitors. It helps justify them sharing their email address with you. With social networks, there’s a similar dynamic. Some people will ask themselves, “Why should I bother to be a fan if the announcements and other content are available on your Web site or to email subscribers?”

There’s value to making information available via different channels — being channel-agnostic is great m– but if you want to get people to engage with you via multiple channels, then the experience has to be different. Indeed, people expect to have a different experience with your brand via Facebook vs. Twitter vs. email, for instance.

Explaining the benefits of joining. Just as email sign-ups suffer when you don’t explain the benefits of receiving your emails, your “Find us on Facebook” or “Follow us on Twitter” call-to-action put the burden on your customers to explore the benefits themselves. Quickly listing the key benefits can be effective in getting people motivated to take action. In a recent email, Fingerhut did a good job of selling the benefits for engaging with the company on Facebook and Twitter.

Driving subscribers to other channels
. Providing customers with many avenues to take advantage of offers and exposing them to different channels has well-established benefits. Just as email programs aren’t maximizing their opportunity when they drive traffic solely to the Web, self-contained social networks are destined to underperform. Look for occasions to expose customers to multiple channels. Sephora did that recently by asking email subscribers to share a digital gift (a tote bag) with their Facebook friends; if they did that, they could get a real Sephora tote from their local store. But the most impressive utilization of a brand’s channels that I’ve seen recently was Buy.com and its Tweet n Seek contest, which had participants following them on Twitter, searching Buy.com, visiting their Facebook page, and reading products pages.

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