How to align your email marketing and social media strategies

This is a guest post from Stella Mwangi from Keyhole, a social media hashtag analytics company.

You’re probably using email marketing to promote your eCommerce business. You’re also, most likely, using social media to separately promote your eCommerce business. But do you ever cross-pollinate between the two?

When you sync up your email marketing strategy with your social media marketing strategy, you can achieve more with both. So instead of trying to figure out whether email marketing is better than social media or vice versa for a particular campaign, marketing message, or other initiative… why not promote it in both spots?

The importance of email marketing is well documented. More than 90 percent of internet users in the U.S. use email, and four out of five people check it daily. Email persists as the most effective form of digital marketing and as an integral part of the way we communicate. When a person subscribes to receive emails from your brand, it’s the equivalent of letting a salesperson from that brand into their living room.

However… most people don’t just let any stranger into their living room. That’s where social media comes in. Social media is a means for you to build trust and raise brand awareness in a way that feels like less of a “commitment” to a potential customer than joining an email list. Statistics also show that the average person spends at least two hours per day checking social media; it’s where your customers are, so it’s where you should be as well.

For most businesses, social media offers an affordable, authentic opportunity to introduce your brand to audiences around the world. It also helps determine what your ideal audience looks like, what content they like, and who they listen to.

From extending the reach of your campaigns to getting more subscribers on your list, aligning email marketing with your social marketing could be a significant boost to your eCommerce business. 

Why should you align your social media and email marketing?

Here are three key reasons why you should turn your social media and email efforts into one cohesive marketing machine.

1. Grow your list through your subscribers’ social networks

When you make it easy (and worthwhile) for your customers to spread the word about your email list, it can lead to a significant rise in your list growth rate. And social media might just be the easiest place for people to share your email list with their friends. Of course, it’s (sadly) rare that lots of people will spread the word about a business’s email list unprompted and/or un-incentivized, so your best bet is to offer some kind of reward for sharing your list on social media.

Here’s an example from the delivery service Skip the Dishes that encourages its subscribers to share on their social channels in exchange for delivery credits. They make it easy for their customers to grab their own unique referral link, which they can then post on their various social accounts.

A way to have customers refer email subscribers via social media.

Of course, you can also grow your social media following through your email list (we’ll cover some strategies for doing so later in the article).

2. Give your fans multiple ways to interact with your brand

Ideally, you want your customers and potential customers subscribing to your list and following all of your different social media accounts. Fans of your brand will subscribe to your email list and also follow you on social media—if you give them a reason to do so. Make sure you use the strengths of each platform to offer something valuable and different to your customers. For instance, email is often better for closing a sale; social is great for two-way interaction.

3. Boost the potential reach of your message

When you integrate your social media and email strategy, you can amplify the reach of your message, building mental availability with your customers. That is, the more familiar customers are with your brand and the more that they feel like they’re seeing you “everywhere,” the more likely it is that they’ll think of you when they’re ready to buy. And what better way to seem like you’re ubiquitous than by appearing in their inbox and all over their various social media channels?

How to grow your email list with your social media following (and vice versa)

Your email list might just be your best place to source new social media followers. Your social media followers might just be your best potential pool of new email subscribers. Here are some of the best ways to use these two marketing challenges to feed into one another.

1. Showcase your social presence throughout your email campaigns

Let your email subscribers know that you exist on social media. You can do this by: 

  • Cross-posting social photos and videos. If you have some awesome, eye-popping photos for either Facebook or Instagram, consider adding them to your email body or newsletter.
  • Add social icons in your email footer. This is one of the simplest ways to feature social media in your email. Just add relevant social icons in your footer to passively let your subscribers know they can find you on social media.
  • Showcasing what you do on social media that’s different from email. You want to answer the question: “If I’m already on your email list, why do I also need to follow you on social media?” Use your emails to answer that question by giving subscribers a peek at what they could be getting if they also follow you on social media.

2. Don’t forget to ask

While it’s good to showcase your social media content and include the various icons in your emails, sometimes you need to be even more direct—and just ask your subscribers to follow you. 

Here’s how Wayfair asks their email subscribers to join them on social media (and even share their user-generated content). They offer a hashtag to be able to track user posts and get hashtag analytics from this content.

Wayfair wants you to share.

One of the best times to ask your subscribers to follow you is in your welcome email series. Their excitement about your brand is quite high at that moment, plus you send the signal that you want to maintain an active, engaged relationship with them from the get-go.

3. Use social landing pages to grow your email list 

This is an important but easily overlooked tactic. While many of your social media promotions will likely send people to your product pages to make a purchase, there’s a long term benefit in sending people to an email list opt-in landing page as well. After all, once someone’s on your list, you can really nurture your relationship with them and, potentially, turn them into a repeat customer and brand advocate.

Instagram is a great place to do this. Since customers have the ability to shop for your products within Instagram, the link in your bio doesn’t necessarily have to go to your store’s homepage or a product page—instead, it can go to a landing page, offering a lead magnet to subscribe.

4. Brag about your awesome email list on social media

Just as you promote your social media channels on email, you can also promote your email list via social media.

One way to do this is with Twitter Cards, which allow subscribers to sign up for an email list without having to leave the social media platform. On Facebook, you can add a subscribe form right there on your Facebook Page. You can also create normal social media posts hyping your emails and encouraging followers to subscribe. 

How to promote your email list via a tweet.

5. Collect emails through social contests and giveaways

Social contests and giveaways continue to grow in popularity and are a great way to engage your social media following. Ask your followers to sign up for your email list and in return, give them a chance to win a prize. Make sure that you offer a worthwhile prize to get your followers excited about earning entries. 

Promoting a contest to build subscribers via social media.

Tips for aligning your email marketing and social media strategies

Now that we’ve covered the main benefits of integrating your email marketing and social media strategies and discussed how to use the two channels to boost one another, let’s take a deeper dive into how to do multi-channel marketing the right way.

1. Sync up your promotional calendar

When you are creating your email marketing calendar, make sure to sync it with your social media marketing calendar. This way, whenever you are promoting something via email, you will also be doing the same on social media, or vice versa.

Of course, sometimes you won’t want to run an offer on email and social—if the promotions are always identical, there’s less of an incentive for a customer to follow or subscribe to you on both. However, in cases like a BFCM sale or major product launch, you’ll absolutely want to keep your email and social promotions in sync.

2. Match all your brand creatives

When customers follow you on social media and email, you’re reinforcing your brand to them over and over. When you keep your branding, color scheme, tone, and creative assets consistent across all channels, it helps to cement your brand in the customer’s mind.

If your branding is mismatched or inconsistent across your different marketing channels, you’re missing out on this key opportunity to reinforce your brand.

3. User-generated content brings your brand to life

The benefits of using user-generated content to promote your business are immense. Above all else, user-generated content increases your credibility and makes potential customers trust you. Use social media to collect customer reviews, testimonials, and pictures of your product in action, then share them with your email list to promote your brand’s products in an organic, credible way. 

Here’s an email example from clothing brand Charlotte Russe that features user-generated content to show real people wearing their products. In the process, it also promotes their Instagram (using their email list to build their following).

UGC and promoting on email.
Via: Pixlee.

4. Retarget social media ads to interested email subscribers

You’re probably spending at least some, if not all, of your advertising budget to promote your eCommerce business via social media ads. The problem is, not everyone who sees an ad on social media will be ready to buy in that moment. (Only a quarter of people who’ve clicked on a Facebook ad say they’ve gone on to make a purchase.) Social media ad traffic is at the top of the sales funnel—you’re making someone aware of your product, and it can be a long journey to the bottom of the funnel when they’re ready to purchase.

First, that means rather than having all of your ads go directly to product pages, you should consider routing some social ad traffic to an email opt-in landing page. Offer a lead magnet, encourage the prospect to join your email list, and nurture the customer relationship from there until they’re ready to buy.

And second, that means you could better target your social ads to improve your return on ad spend. One way to do that: retarget your ads to your email subscribers. You can upload your email list to Facebook to target those people specifically with your ads. Since they’re already aware of your store and your products, those ads will hit them when they’re further along the sales funnel, and therefore more likely to buy. (You can also use your list to have Facebook put together a lookalike audience, which, again, could be a more targeted group of prospects.)

To determine what kind of content best resonates with your target market, look into a reputable social media analytics tool. This will give you a birds-eye view on the most engaging content from your brand, your competitors, and your industry. 

Key takeaways

When stores ask whether they should focus on email marketing or social media marketing, we say: Why not both? When your email and social media strategies work in concert, you can improve your reach on both platforms and use both to effectively drive more sales.

There are three main reasons you should align your email marketing and social media marketing strategies:

  • Grow your list through your subscribers’ social networks. Gain access to lots of new prospects when your subscribers promote your list on social media—then use your email marketing to nurture those prospects into customers.
  • Give your fans multiple ways to interact with your brand. Offer different types of value via email and social media to incentivize your fans to follow you on both.
  • Boost the potential reach of your message. Build mental availability by reaching your customers through both email and social media.

Your email list can help you grow your social media following, and vice versa. Here are some of the best ways to accomplish that:

  • Showcase your social media in your emails. Use your emails to promote your social media accounts—and make it clear what extra value they provide.
  • Don’t forget to ask. Sometimes getting your subscribers to follow you on social media is just as simple as asking. Your welcome email series is a good time to make that ask.
  • Use social landing pages to grow your list. Use the link in your social media bio to take followers to a landing page where they can join your email list.
  • Brag about your list on social media. Regularly mention your email list on social media, and take advantage of things like Twitter Cards to make it seamless to subscribe.
  • Collect emails through social contests. Grow your list with a contest for your social media followers.

And finally, there are plenty of ways you can go about aligning your email marketing and social media strategies to maximize both.

  • Sync your promotional calendar. Sync up your email and social media calendars to make sure you take a unified approach to major promotions.
  • Match your brand creative cross-platform. Reinforce your brand in your customers’ minds by maintaining a consistent presentation across email and social media.
  • Use social media to collect user-generated content for emails. Collect customer reviews, testimonials, and photos through social media, then share your UGC in your emails for a boost of credibility.
  • Retarget social media ads to email subscribers. Get more value out of your social media ads by targeting email list subscribers.

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