Guest Post by: Jon Stokes

Yesterday I attended an email marketing roundtable hosted by Econsultancy. Having a social media agency’s perspective gave me a good opportunity to learn how email marketers currently view social media, as the new communication channel was discussed frequently.

Email has a well established track record of delivering ROI, whereas discussions continue in terms of social media’s value. However, information offered by Econsultancy and Adestra from their 2011 email marketing industry census suggests that there are opportunities for the two channels to integrate further:

  • 72% of the companies surveyed by Econsultancy did not measure how email marketing impacted social media activity (just 1% responded that they use sophisticated measurement)
  • At present under a quarter of companies (23%) say their email is currently well integrated with CRM data. The future of email will involve further development of integration with web analytics and social media data.

In addition to Econsultancy’s findings, interesting opinions and findings were shared in the discussion:

  • The extremely personal nature of an inbox is significant, and email marketers have to offer something of value in order to maintain access to it.
  • The proportion of emails that are opened on mobile devices varies from 2-20%, which tends to be affected by industry (publishing was cited as an example of the higher end) – as the number of people using mobile devices to access social media grows, perhaps we can expect further convergence of email and social messages in a mobile-optimised format.
  • One suggestion is to use email to send a digest of a brand’s social media activity – offering a summary of the week’s most interesting blog posts, tweets and Facebook activity might catch the attention of people who do not have the time to constantly follow a variety of social channels, and might give a reminder to visit.

It is understandable that social media skeptics will hold email marketing close to their hearts – it has a solid history of delivering results, and is relatively simple to track – whereas the new kid on the block remains elusive in both these areas. In my opinion, social media and email are not mutually exclusive – those who learn to implement both in a strategic  and integrated manner will learn and communicate far more effectively than those who treat both channels separately.

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