As what some would call a “veteran” email marketer, I’ve taken some abuse in my time. For years when I told people what I did at a cocktail party or family holidays, the immediate response was always “so you’re a spammer.” I’ve weathered article after article proclaiming, “email marketing is dead.” I’ve worked with companies whose employees begrudgingly lent their talents to email, while all they really wanted to do was anything else.

But nothing hurts quite as bad as the rise of social media and the minimization of email marketing as a channel. This is even more infuriating because social media couldn’t exist without email. We all know that email drives social media engagement through notifications. You can’t sign up for a social account without an email account. But, what about the less obvious functions of email in relation to social media? Here are five ways email marketing influences you and your company’s social behavior:

•    Informs about movement within your social network

The role of email in the context of social media is to engage and promote. Social networking by definition is used to connect and share. The symbiosis between the two channels leads to increased engagement for both channels. For example, when one of your connections in LinkedIn receives a promotion or publishes a new blog, depending on your email preferences, you may get an email notification. Email both promotes and engages you based on events within your network and thereby is relevant.

•    Updates you when people are talking about you

Social media can be overwhelming and time consuming. If we spent as much time on social media websites as needed to not miss anything, we would miss everything else going on in our lives. Email notifications can update you on important events, especially those pertaining to you specifically. Think picture tags in Facebook. If someone other than me uploads a picture and tags me, I want to know about it.  Again, an email notification conveniently gives me a heads up without having to live on Facebook waiting for someone to upload an embarrassing photo.

•    Promotes your social presence to your email list and vice versa

You may already have a list of subscribers who have willingly handed over their email addresses hoping you will send them information about your company on a regular basis. If you are an eCommerce company, you likely have a list of customer email addresses that is used for confirmation or other transactional messaging.  Chances are some of the people behind those email addresses aren’t following you on your social accounts. Be sure you use email to create awareness of the other channels. I’m not talking about it as an aside to the main content of an email. Dedicate an entire email to your social media sites. If possible, include it as a triggered step in your welcome and re-engagement email series.  While you’re at it, add a subscribe functionality to your Facebook page and promote your newsletter sign-up page on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.

•    Enriches data about your subscriber or customer lists through social connect

From an email standpoint, one of the most appealing features of social networks is the data. As email marketers, we are always trying to learn more about our subscribers in an effort to message them effectively. This can be a long, slow process of asking for information and analyzing behavioral data.  Social networks, through social connect, give us the ability to learn more about our subscribers more quickly and, therefore, send relevant, customized messages.

•    Announces an event or contest on social media

Social media naturally lends itself to a more interactive experience in many cases. Often, contests are most effective when they “live” on a social site. However, you still need to get people there. Using email marketing to promote, amplify, and remind about an event can be effective for creating a crowd and building momentum over time.

As a marketer, I would be a failure if I didn’t point out that each of these touch points is an opportunity to engage, inform, and even sell. You will continue to learn more information about your subscribers through their behaviors interacting with your email content and can use that data to create more relevant messaging. With email, you can:

•    Target audiences
•    Serve dynamic content
•    Control cadence and messaging
•    Ultimately drive revenue, leads, or visits

In the end, it’s important to realize that both email and social media have their roles and strengths in marketing. When the end user is put at the center of our campaigns, we begin to realize that the use of one channel only makes the other stronger.

Author

With over 12 years of digital marketing experience, specializing in email marketing and customer retention, Liz Ryan is an innovative thought leader in the field. She has been published in a number of industry publications, including Mediapost’s Email Insider and eM+C, as well as interviewed for DM News and Hubspot. She is an ExactTarget Partner, Hubspot Inbound Marketing Partner, and Hootsuite Partner as well as Marketing Sherpa certified in B2B Marketing. Liz is the President and Founder of Relish Tray Media. You can find Liz’s company on Google+