How Email Marketers Can Start Preparing for Google+ Now
By Julia Peavy
As an email marketer (or any marketer), you can’t seem to go anywhere without hearing about Google+. From how fast it has grown (25 million+) to what it is (a new way to share) and what it isn’t (a Facebook killer). Google+ is everywhere.
And yet, it can be difficult to determine if Google+ is the next big thing or just the newest social media kid on the block.
So, what does Google+ mean for email marketers? Should you care? While I can’t predict the future, here’s why email marketers should care and what they can start doing to prepare for Google+ or the next big thing.
For starters, Google+ reinforces email as a powerful sharing tool and provides even more reasons for subscribers to interact with their inboxes. Google+ allows you to share content via email (as well as with your Google+ circles).
And like Twitter, Google+ sends email notifications about your Google+ account activity. Someone adds you to a circle? Get an email. Tags you in a photo? Get an email. You get the point. Not only does this demonstrate that email is not dead, it means email marketers need to ensure their messages are more relevant and targeted than ever to stand out in the crowded inbox.
If Google+ does become the next big thing, email marketers need to be ready. Start coordinating with your social media team. While companies can’t create a Google+ business profile yet, email marketers need to have integration and testing plans in place when the Google+ business profiles are up.
Do you plan to run a standalone “add us to your circle” email campaign to your Gmail subscribers? Will you include an incentive to encourage this behavior? How will you define success? How will you incorporate Google+1 sharing icons into your email templates? Will you include Google +1 sharing icons for all content or only certain types of content (offers, each newsletter article, etc.)?
Is there a chance your company could provide customer support via a Hangout? If so, will you need to account for this in any transactional emails? Now is the time to determine how you will test and integrate the various potential Google+ elements into your already busy email schedule.
Here are some other things you can do now as you work on your email and Google+ integration plan:
• This may seem obvious, but set up your own Google+ account. Invite some friends. Create some circles. See how your +1 content shows up on Google+. Even though business profiles are still an unknown, getting a better understanding of Google+ now will make its integration into email more seamless in the future.
• Monitor the content on your website. What content, products, or offers are being shared via Google+ (and other social networks)? How many people are sharing your content on Google+? How much referral traffic comes from Google+? Content that drives sharing is also good content for your email marketing messages in most cases. Work this shareable content into your overall email marketing plans.
• Analyze how your subscribers are interacting with social media via email.While these elements are often part of every campaign, have you looked at them in their own right? Are subscribers actually clicking on your follow/like links? Are subscribers sharing your content (via FTAF or social media)? If so, what content is being shared? Use these data points to determine future tests and how to best integrate Google+ into your email program.
• Ensure the social media portion of your email programis in order. Test all social media sharing links. Is it easy for your email subscribers to share your content? How do the sharable text (and graphics) render when shared? Does it appropriately represent the email content?
• Review and test all email capture forms on your existing social media properties (or create email capture forms on your social media pages if they don’t exist). Are they working properly? Are they collecting the right amount of data? What learnings can you potentially leverage for email capture on Google+ business pages?
• Don’t forget the fundamentals. Target, test, analyze, repeat. If you aren’t sending email worth sharing, a new tool won’t add value to your program.
No matter if Google+ takes off or not, content sharing is here to stay. Google+ just further confirms that strategic sharing needs to be part of your email marketing plans. Reviewing and analyzing the social and sharing aspects of your email program now will prepare you for Google+ or whatever the next big thing might be.
About the Author: Julia Peavy is director, response consulting at email-certification and reputation-monitoring-services firm Return Path. Along with her colleague Stephanie Colleton, she will be writing the monthly Email + column. Together they will cover the integration of email with other marketing tools and strategies.