Mitch Eisen and I gave a webinar on SWYN (Share With Your Network) recently and a question came up afterwards about how to integrate email with social channels. I responded by talking about “Email in the Marketing Mix.”
A few days before the webinar I was having a conversation with a client about event marketing, and that too turned into a discussion on “Email in the Marketing Mix.”
Not long before that I was on a call with an organization looking for ways of targeting several different classes of membership across multiple channels. Again I steered towards “Email in the Marketing Mix.” I’m pretty sure I used the phrase at dinner with my wife the other night also.
So what is “Email in the Marketing Mix” and why am I so obsessed with it? It’s the understanding that email is a communications channel, not the only communications channel. It’s powerful, and effective, and efficient, and trackable. And while all these attributes make it a preferred channel, it’s not the only way you can reach your contacts.
Still, many organizations, when charged with reaching everybody begin by sending an email. But if your open rates are anything less than 100%, you’re not reaching everybody. It doesn’t mean your email doesn’t work or that you shouldn’t send it, but it does mean that other communications channels can and should be used to supplement your email efforts, allowing you to reach more of the everybody you’re after. The right mix not only allows you to reach more of your contacts; it can also improve the effectiveness of the email itself.
Here are a few tips for balancing the Email in your Marketing Mix:
1. Build out your social channels.
Social networks are not going to replace email, at least not at any point that we can foresee. But your customers are on Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and many other social sites. Might as well capture their attention when they’re away from the inbox. The more of them who friend, fan or follow you, the greater your opportunity to maintain a strong connection with them. The endgame here is not to decrease your reliance on email and shift from a trackable database marketing program to 140 character staccato bursts on Twitter. Rather, it’s to keep your subscribers connected to your organization so that they read and respond to your emails more frequently. And social channels are also prospecting hotbeds. The very nature of these platforms promotes content sharing: the more invested you are in them, the more your content will spread and reach new prospects – many of whom will follow the trail back to your site and, yes, join your email list.
2. Give your Email content engine more cylinders to fire on with Mobile and Fax.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could create content once, and then publish it wherever your contacts are, in whatever format they want to receive it? You already do that with the HTML and text versions of your email. But you can also allow your subscribers to elect to receive messages directly on their mobile phone as TXT message, and even by good old fashioned fax. Unsolicited messages to these channels are as anathema as email spam, but some people prefer them to the inbox and will gladly sign up. You don’t know which ones until you ask. But if you’re emailing and not reaching the “everybody” you’d like, it’s time to offer these alternative delivery channels.
3. Cross-Promote your Email Brands and Content.
Think about all the places outside of the inbox where you have contact with your subscribers: your website, your company’s blog, the Facebook Fan Page, a LinkedIn Group, your Twitter account, the signature files on personal emails sent from your associates and staff, ad campaigns you might be running on Google or partner websites – and these are only the electronic touchpoints. At every one of these, you have your subscribers’ attention. Maybe not all of them, and maybe that attention is divided – but you have it. Consider how you might use these points of contact to bolster the relevance of your email. Will any of these work for you?
- Excerpt a piece of content from your last newsletter in a “What’s New” box on your homepage, linking to a web-version of the newsletter.
- Do the same thing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog.
- In addition to the “subscribe here” box on your site, run a house ad campaign promoting your newsletter by name, helping to establish it as a brand and a must-read source of targeted content for your subscribers.
- Bring that same campaign to Google and any campaigns you’re running on partners’ sites.
- Add “Subscribe to our newsletter” language and links to the signature files of everyone at your organization.
- Make your newsletter the official sponsor of an upcoming webinar, or a conference session. Work as hard to promote it as you do to promote an actual sponsor paying a few thousand dollars for the association. Chances are, it’s worth far more to your email success.
Your email subscriber list is one of the most valuable long-term communications assets your organization will ever have. But only if you take care of it. Treat like any other member of your team by giving it the support and tools it needs to succeed, and you’ll be able to count on its contributions for years to come.