Even if you're not in the business of email marketing, you've probably heard the prediction that social media will eventually replace the need for email marketing. I beg to differ. While there's no doubt that social media has fundamentally changed the marketing landscape, email remains a powerful way to send and share information; there's a reason why companies such as Groupon, Daily Candy and Gilt Groupe rely on email to deliver their can't-miss deals and information.
To be sure, these brands also are avid users of social media, and they do a great job making sure their emails and offers are easily share-able on social networks. Social media is a partner, not a threat, to email marketing because together they strengthen your message, and provide new channels for getting in front of both new and potential customers.
Unfortunately, many businesses – especially smaller ones – simply do not have the time to figure out how to integrate social media and email marketing in an effective and measurable way. If you're crunched for time and want to get the most bang for your efforts, here are five easy ways to make your emails more social.
1. Include live "follow" buttons to your social media profiles in your email. Yes, perhaps I'm preaching to the choir, but you'd be surprised at how many companies still don't have them. A little HTML knowledge is all you need to accomplish this, and there are lots of different (and free) graphical buttons online for you to choose from.
2. Make sure your email service provider offers hosted versions of your emails. This is simply the email you've created hosted on a Web page, so that it can be accessed by anyone (e.g., someone who clicked on a link that was shared on a social network). Your email service provider should offer an easy way to insert a link that has been automagically created anywhere in your email.
3. Embed social sharing icons in your emails. These are different from the buttons I recommend in No. 1; these icons allow your recipients to post a link to the hosted version of your email on their social networks. Some email service providers provide tracking and reporting on how many people posted your email to their networks, which is valuable information about your email's overall effectiveness and relevance.
4. Make it as easy as possible for current subscribers to share your email by adding both "forward to a friend" and "sign up for emails" links in the email body. The "forward to a friend" link allows them to do exactly that; the "sign up for emails" link should lead to a landing page where their friend can simply type in his/her email address and automatically be added to your subscriber list.
5. Add an email sign-up form on your Facebook page. This is a fantastic way to let your Facebook fans know that you have an email newsletter they shouldn't miss. Simply create a separate tab on your page so that visitors will know exactly where they can sign up for more information. Include a reason or two why they should sign up, such as recent "email only" offers or promotions.
So, there you have it. You've got no excuses now!
Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse, a provider of email marketing, social media, online survey and direct mail marketing solutions.