Easy Ways to Integrate Social Networking into E-mail Marketing

Many small business owners are wondering how they can utilize social media tools like Twitter and Facebook to reach customers and grow their businesses without drawing marketing time and dollars away from other established mediums.

Fortunately, there’s no need for competition among channels -“ you can easily leverage your e-mail marketing campaigns to gain exposure on social networks. In fact, a recent Ball State University study found that 46 percent of businesses are already planning to do so in 2010.

Why Integrate Social Media and E-mail?
The power of social media as a marketing tool lies in its ability to spread your message rapidly. However, its effect is often difficult to quantify, and its effectiveness as a sales driver is dampened by the fact that prospects must manually return to the network to see your messages. E-mail, on the other hand, pushes information to subscribers’ inboxes and delivers measurable results ($43.52 for every $1 invested, according to the Direct Marketing Association), but doesn’t often produce the rapid “viral” spread of an idea or product that social media can.

By using social media to increase the spread of your e-mail campaigns, and using e-mail to communicate with prospects on a more intimate basis, you can connect with more prospects and close more sales.

Let’s look at some basic things that your business can do to multiply the effectiveness of your e-mail campaigns with social media -“ and vice versa.

Include Social Sharing Buttons in Your E-mails
“Social sharing” buttons enable your e-mail subscribers to spread your message on their preferred social network.

An e-mail marketing service can help you to add these buttons to your campaigns automatically, or you can use sites like ShareThis.com and AddThis.com to generate buttons to copy and paste into your e-mails.

You may want to include social sharing buttons for only a couple of networks at first. Before inserting these buttons into your e-mails, decide which networks you most want to reach. Where are your prospects spending time online and/or talking about you? You can use the search box on Twitter’s homepage to see if your business is being mentioned there, and you can use Google to look for mentions on Facebook and other sites.

Use Your Facebook Page and Other Profiles to Build Your List
If you’re going to encourage prospects and customers to share your e-mail content on social networks, you may also want to establish a presence on those networks. (This is another reason to only include social sharing buttons for select one or two networks at first.)

Suppose you choose Facebook as a social network that you want to target, and that you establish a Facebook “fan page” for your business. Someone who ends up on your fan page after one of their Facebook friends shares your e-mail is an ideal candidate to join your e-mail list. Fortunately, Facebook allows you to add an e-mail signup form (which your e-mail marketing service can provide you with) to your fan page. Use this to encourage visitors to subscribe.

Similarly, you can provide links to your Web site and e-mail signup forms on your profiles of other social networks, so that when potential customers find you there, they can easily join your list.

Share Selected Email Content on Social Networks
Your fans and followers find value in the messages you post to social networks (that’s why they follow you in the first place). But they may not know about what they can get from you by e-mail.

Expose them to your e-mails by occasionally linking to an online version of a recent message. Include an e-mail signup form on the page you direct followers to so they can join your e-mail list while they’re there.

As more followers join your e-mail list and receive valuable content from you, more of them will use the social sharing buttons you’ve added to your e-mails to spread your message even further. As your e-mail list continues to grow, you’ll enjoy an ever-larger pool of prospects to turn into customers at the high rate of return that e-mail marketing delivers.

Justin Premick is the director of Education Marketing at AWeber Communications, a leading provider of on-demand e-mail marketing software. He spearheads AWeber’s efforts to teach businesses how to build lasting customer relationships via permission-based e-mail marketing. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Richard Blanchard
Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.