Hot New Research Into Social Media & Email

dotMailer’s hottest new research shows how the UK’s top retail brands are failing to integrate social with email, and are missing out on the main prize.

The last 12 months have seen social media play an increasingly significant role in the marketing mix.

Research published by Experian shows that email marketing messages shared through social
networking links deliver, on average, 5 times more forwards than an email with just a single
‘forward to a friend’ link.

That’s a significant uplift, and it’s crystal clear that integrating social media into email
campaigns is something we should all be doing.

Retailers who are using key social media networks including blogging sites, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have the opportunity to engage with their audience, build their brand and drive web traffic.

By integrating these social media channels with their email marketing, the potential becomes
even greater. Email enables marketers to raise the visibility of their social media presence and content, drive traffic to their social media and blog pages, and encourage recipients to share marketing messages on their own social media sites.

How well are the big brands doing?

In our newly published Hitting the Mark 2010-11 annual benchmark report, we analysed and scored email campaigns sent by 36 top UK retail brands. Retailers were given marks if they included:

  • Social media sharing links to Twitter, Facebook and/or Linked In
  • Links to their own social media pages
  • Links to their own blog

The results

Average score: 2 out of 13

This section returned some of the lowest scores in the entire report. It’s clear that whilst
retailers are getting switched on to using social media in their marketing mix, they have yet to appreciate the importance of integrating this with their email marketing.

33% of the retailers we surveyed had no links to social media sites in their email campaigns.
‘Share on social network’ links were even harder to find, with just 16% of the retailers
including them in their email.

The biggest shock though came with the score for links to the retailers’ blogs. We found just
11% of the emails we studied included links to a blog. Of those with no blog link, 7 had a blog
that they could have linked to. Blogs are a great way for businesses to show their human side,
and to give a voice to their brand and to their customers. Relevant blog content is highly rated by Google and can help with SEO and search engine visibility. All the retailers in our survey should be using their email campaigns to drive traffic and readership to their blog.

topshop big

Here, Topshop includes one-click social network sharing links, plus links to their own Twitter and Facebook pages, their blog and their tell a friend page. All these easy to find actions will help Topshop to spread their message virally and raise their profile in the social media channels most important to their target audience.

Best practice guidelines

  • Know the networks that your contacts and target market use. There’s no point linking
    your email to LinkedIn if your target market love Digg! Take some time to research
    the social networking habits and preferences of your target market. If in doubt, put a short online survey together and ask them how they use social media
  • Keep your messages simple. Remember, a complicated message will not be understood, read and definitely not shared! Keep the proposition in your email campaign a singleminded and understandable one
  • Talk to your tribes. Identify the different groups within your customer base and learn what motivates them and what makes them different from each other. Again, online surveys can help to build the picture and profiles you need
  • Address these motivators in your targeted email content, to create compelling and ‘group specific’ content that was just made for social media sharing. If your message isn’t relevant, it won’t be shared
  • Make it easy for recipients to post your email and for new readers to signup
  • Include prominent ‘social network sharing links’ in your email template. And don’t forget to include a prominent link to your subscriber page so new readers can sign up to your email list and help to build your database with relevant, engaged prospects
  • Include links to your blog and to your organisation’s own social media pages, eg
    Twitter and Facebook
  • Give your recipients a reason to share. Ask yourself, why would someone want to share your email? Does your message add value to the recipient and their friends or colleagues? Will posting your email give them kudos? Or do you have a competition or promotion for people to enter?

Click here to see the full table of results for social media and email marketing in Hitting the Mark 2010-11.