Ten Lessons Social Media Marketers Can Learn from Email Marketers

A while ago I posted an article on The eMail Guide, as the name says a site about email marketing and run by a few extremely nice people.

As I write a lot about social media marketing and email marketing I wrote a post called “Why email marketers understand social media best (even if they don’t know it)”. But there was some irony in it. Since I talked about “good” email marketers, hoping to convince email marketers to embrace social media.

At the same time, it is true that people who specialize in social media marketing can learn a lot from email marketers. In fact, all kinds of marketers could learn a lot from each other and from sales people as well. So I decided to put the post here because I feel that it can provide some insights about social media, email and integration. If you disagree, please say so.

A lot of email marketers are still hesitant about integrating social media. It’s often said that this is because email marketers have a broadcasting mentality and don’t know what ‘conversations’ and ‘customer relationships’ are.

I don’t agree with that. On the contrary: I believe that email marketers could be the best social media marketers. Do I hear some protest among social media marketers? Let me explain before you declare me nuts.

First of all, an email marketer is not a broadcaster. Because someone that broadcasts bulk messages is not an email marketer (maybe an extremely bad one).

That still doesn’t explain my bold statement that email marketers could be the best social media and inbound marketers, does it? Don’t worry, I’m coming to the point.

What are the typical characteristics of social media marketing?

  1. It is based on relationships
    Social media marketing is based upon the way you move from connections to relationships by being a valuable partner, offering relevant content (including promotions) and engaging and respecting people. Email marketing is about relationships as well. When someone signs up for a newsletter he says “I want your stuff in my inbox, here I am, add me to your list”. A good email marketer understands that. Just as he or she knows that you should respect your subscribers by taking their needs into account.
  2. It is about the value and content you provide
    In order to receive value, you have to provide it. Smart marketers know how important it is to offer good content and other valuable items to their subscribers. Content, value and relevance are key in email marketing. They are key in social media marketing as well.
  3. It’s the people, stupid
    Brands are people, customers are people, the whole social web is about people. Chatting, tweeting, liking, blogging, commenting, caring and sharing. Every good email marketer knows that there are real people behind the email addresses that sit in his databases and that they should be treated as such.
  4. It’s about sharing
    One of the most popular activities on social networks is sharing. Thoughts, posts, video’s, images, coupons, you name it. Social media marketing thrives on sharing, buzz, viral effects, etc. Email marketer have known that since ages. Who invented “send-to-a-friend”? Who understands that email has a strong viral potential if the message is relevant and share-worthy?
  5. It is based on listening
    Social media marketers know how important it is to listen to what people are saying about their brands, their competitors, market trends, etc. and to act upon it. That’s why they use all these social media management tools. But what’s new? All email marketing professionals listen to their recipients: they ask them what they want, run satisfaction surveys, they even ask people who unsubscribe why they do so and provide them an alternative, so they listen and act as well!
  6. It’s integrated and cross channel
    Social media marketing is part of an overall marketing strategy. It’s about having a cross channel and holistic view. Email marketers are experts in cross channel strategies. They know that email marketing has an important role in the overall marketing strategy, including providing customer service, improving customer loyalty, acquiring and nurturing leads, CRM and much more.
  7. It’s about content
    What do people share most on social media? Content. What do people tweet about often? Content. What’s the reason why a blog post get’s shared, tweeted, liked or socially bookmarked? Content. Social media marketing and inbound marketing are about being found and noticed by good content. This content becomes a story that leads to word-of-mouth. Good social media marketers also highlight the content and stories of other people. Email marketers know all about good and relevant content. They know that content is what makes your email opened and clicked. They even test their content and look at what converts best and thus is most appreciated!
  8. It’s about context and personalization
    Social media marketers understand the importance of context. They know how to track the digital footprints of people, segment, choose channels and act upon “digital signals” by providing personalized content via appropriate channels or engaging in contextual dialogues. Email marketers are the kings of personalization, offering choice, segmentation and swiftly acting upon the digital signals of their recipients.
  9. It’s about trust and respect
    Brands and businesses that use social media know that they have to be authentic, real, transparent, participative and respectful. They know they are joining a global and continuing stream of conversations, and that they have to gain the trust of people by listening, answering, providing value and having a personal approach in times where people increasingly control communication and lose trust in businesses. Email marketers know that as well, from long before social media even existed. They understand you have to listen and talk to your recipients and they most of all understand that an email relationship is based upon trust, reliability and permission, starting from the subscription form.
  10. It’s about engagement
    Social media marketing is not only about listening and talking. It’s about acting, engaging people, sharing passions, involving “crowds” and communities and inviting people to participate in what you, as a business, do. All good email marketers know that they need to engage recipients and emotionally appeal to them. They also know that people act, buy, forward and click for sentimental reasons, more than for anything else.

You see: when looking at just ten typical aspects of what social media marketing really is about, you notice that there is not much difference between email marketing and social media marketing.

So why not combine and integrate them to have a better reach, offer people more choice and provide them relevant content and value in function of their needs? Because, ultimately that’s what both email marketing and social media marketing are about: customer-centricity and of course just…marketing.

Good email marketers know this. As do social media marketers. Right?