Email + Social: 'Tis the Season
By Stephanie Colleton
The next six weeks are make or break for marketers in many industries including retail, business-to-business and non-profits. Both email and social can play big roles in the success of the season.
For many retailers, the revenue brought in through their email program during this time is critical. So it’s time to pull out all the stops.
Many marketers ramp up email frequency during this time. This strategy can work for some, but in other cases it can lead to subscriber fatigue or an increase in the rate of subscribers who mark your email as spam. If you do plan on increasing frequency, keep an eye on complaint rates and be sure to offer your subscribers options such as reduced frequency. This is also an important time to add those social options to your preference center or unsubscribe page.
There are a number of other ways to leverage social media for email and vice versa during the holidays. Consider incorporating customer comments and product ratings into holiday emails.
Monitor chatter from social media to help you identify what the hottest trends are and then feature those products more prominently in your email promotions. Since people may be buying gifts that they don’t know much about themselves, help them by providing product comparison guides and then promote the guides through email, social and on web product pages. Take from two to five of your products and create a grid that lays out the features in a simple way that allows them to make the best choice.
And be sure to promote your hassle free returns policy to ease any of those concerns. Make some simple how-to videos that show product assembly or use and promote them in email, in your blog and throughout social media. Let’s face it, seeing the assembled, shiny, new, red bike under the tree is MUCH better than having it still in the box. Grateful parents will become loyal customers.
Retailers are not the only ones who need to adjust their marketing strategy in the end of Q4. B2B marketers should be taking advantage of prospects and customers who may have a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy for their annual budgets. If they haven’t yet used up their 2011 funds for IT/marketing/software/consulting this is an ideal time to make sure you are optimizing both email and social so that your business’ name is top of mind during this period.
It’s also the time of year to thank your customers for their business during the past year. Maybe take a break from the basket o’ cheese/crackers/cured meats and instead send an online animated thank you note and that allows your clients to make a donation to the charity of their choice.
Speaking of charities, this is also a key time of year for non-profits. Non-profits marketing to consumers and businesses need to make sure their email and social channels are working together during this crucial period when people give more thought to giving back to the community and to helping those in need. Videos that demonstrate the work and value of the charity can be posted in both channels with prominent calls to action that allow the videos to easily be shared.
Organizations could even promote the idea above – having businesses contribute to a cause in lieu of client gifts – to companies they’ve worked with before.
For many online marketers, traffic is about to spike big time. Be prepared to take advantage of it by having email and social working together. Make sure your shop is gleaming and the red carpet is rolled out for your best customers and new ones as well.
Stephanie Colleton is director, strategic services for email deliverability and security firm Return Path.