When talking about new media marketing, our focus is often social media, which quickly gravitates to what’s newest such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Google+. While social media use is indeed on the rise, there are other, older siblings of social that still pull quite strong, such as email marketing. 

While email might not be as fun for marketers and industry talking heads to tweet about, it still carries a lot of weight. In fact, 61% of businesses plan on increasing their email marketing budget in the coming year, according to Social Media Examiner’s annual report. Small businesses are even more likely to do so. MarketingProfs also reported recently that email still leads the pack when it comes to influencing buying decisions.

Rather than competing with one another for budget, these two channels — email and social media — actually complement one another quite nicely and can work in tandem to produce an effective, integrated campaign. Email marketer VerticalResponse found that businesses that use email marketing and engage in social media see a 28% higher email open rate.

Here are a few tips on how you can make your email marketing efforts more social — and vice versa.

In Email …

  • Include Social Media Connect Icons — In your email design (which is a whole other topic to be approached carefully) find a way to integrate icons for the social platforms your brand is active on. These icons will link to your brand pages on each. This is an important distinction to include, as you should also…
  • Include Social Sharing Icons — These icons allow readers to share your email content with their social networks helping your brand’s ideas spread even further. Many applications such as VerticalResponse and Constant Contact have tools for easily adding these buttons to their pre-fab email templates.
  • Tailor Email Content Around Social Conversations — In your monthly newsletter (a popular type of email for brands of all shapes and sizes) drive readers to the content you post to your social channels. For example, if you posted photos from a recent event on Facebook send your email traffic here as well.
  • Ask to Connect More Bluntly — While the icons should do the trick, they are also becoming so commonplace in the marketing zeitgeist that your reader could tune them out. That’s why it’s a good idea to say it even more clearly within your email content. If it’s a newsletter, consider doing an article every now and then asking readers to connect on social media explaining very clearly what they’ll get out of it. If it’s a letter-style email, try closing with an ask like, “If you found this valuable, please consider taking a moment and sharing this with your social networks.”
  • Social Fan Spotlights — Speaking of getting something out of email and social media, most people love to be the center of attention. Why not take one of your most-active social media followers and interview them for your email newsletter? This also showcases an incentive to readers who might not be connected with you on social media yet.

In Social Media …

  • Use Social Channels to Mine for Newsletter Content — As you converse with your brand’s community on Facebook and Twitter find popular threads of discussion to explore via longer form content in your email newsletter (HINT: If your newsletter contains multiple articles, start with a quick blurb and have the reader follow a link to your website for the full article).
  • Post All-Hosted Email Links to Your Social Networks — This is a rather elementary step but many forget this. Email best practices remind us to have a link to a hosted version of your email content at the top of the message in the pre-header in case a client has images blocked. Be sure to share this link on your social channels as a reminder for fans to check their inboxes. You might also find fans that aren’t signed up for your email program which is why you also need to …
  • Include Sign-Up Forms in Social Media — Remember, social media platforms may evolve but, by and large, email is forever. Ultimately you want your fans and followers’ email addresses to offer more personal forms of follow up. Several email tools provide code or apps to create custom tabs on Facebook Pages but you can also simply include links on your info and profile pages on Google+ and Twitter. Don’t forget your blog as an obvious social channel for your email sign-up as well.
  • Say It With Video — People like video. In fact, according to comScore, 105.1 million Americans watch videos online each day. As you can’t play a video in an email (yet), make sure you are grabbing a screen-capture of your latest videos and including them in your emails. This visual cue is like clickable catnip for most readers who want to see what happens next.

Conclusion: Clicks & Conversations

Though social media is the shiny new thing, it’s important not to discard a channel that steadily produces results on an efficient budget. By connecting your email clicks with your social media conversations, you can easily and effectively create an integrated campaign with the very best new media has to offer your brand.

How are you connecting your social media and email marketing efforts?