When marketers evaluate all of the digital communication channels at their disposal, they’re faced with a rich array of choices including the latest in social and mobile marketing. Social media marketing includes participation on social networking websites such as: Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, video and photo sharing websites including YouTube and Flickr, blogging, microblogging (Twitter), podcasts, forums, product reviews (Amazon) and social bookmarking websites. Like email marketing, these channels help companies disseminate information to large audiences rapidly and cost-effectively.
Omniture and The CMO Club conducted a Digital Marketing Survey in May of 2009 wherein 102 CMOs were asked to rate the relative effectiveness of digital marketing media. While most respondents, or 78 percent, found email marketing most effective, online communities and blogs were also successful for 33 percent of the respondents, a strong statistic considering the low cost of entry and relatively young nature of social media. Most online consumers engage with a variety of online communications and activities and have different preferences and tastes. Studies like this underscore the importance of including a full range of interactive and mobile marketing vehicles in your digital marketing campaigns.
Today’s businesses should be using all of these complementary media outlets – email, social networks and mobile marketing – to most effectively connect and communicate with their current and prospective customers.
Networking with Customers
With companies incorporating interactive and digital strategies more frequently into their campaign mixes, Forrester Research has predicted the highest rate of growth for social media over the next five years*. Social networking venues do not necessarily increase leads, nor do they populate a company’s prospect database. But social networking does give organizations the opportunity to share information in a one-to-many format authenticated by consumer and peer reports, comments and endorsements, extend their brand reach and learn even more about their audiences – from age and sex to education level, social patterns, preferences and tastes. At the same time, social networking websites give customers the ability to research companies more thoroughly, read peer reviews and develop a comprehensive business profile before they ever make a purchase. For both parties, social networking offers a means to foster trust and long-term loyalty.
Blogging and microblogging further nurture that relationship, providing a vehicle for companies to tout their expertise, promote new products, share news and stay connected without being pushy. Blog comments offer real-time feedback and encourage a worthwhile dialog among the two parties, helping businesses better understand their customer’s needs. Blogs and microblogs increase brand visibility, improve search engine rankings and word-of-mouth marketing. Companies can further use posts to gain visibility within premium publications at little to no cost simply through mentions or links from web media, press or high-profile industry bloggers.
The Power of Email and Mobile Marketing
Mobile phones, and especially smart phones, have become indispensable assets for both personal and business productivity, acting as a means for digital interactions, such as sending text messages, browsing the Internet or reviewing email correspondence, on-the-run. It is also one of the most personal devices, as most of us carry our phones with us just about everywhere we go. And therefore, communications and marketing messages received on the phone have the highest degree of relevance, and ultimately, success for the users.
Different from their social media counterparts, email and mobile marketing are more direct one-to-one communication vehicles. This means the degree of relevance and targeted messaging can return some of the most successful and measurable campaigns.
As a result, mobile and email marketing have become important sales and marketing tools, and traditionally viewed as the “desktop” communication, email is becoming increasingly mobile as well with increasing popularity of smart phones.
Companies may use email and mobile marketing to reach customers and prospects instantly – wherever they may be. Email and mobile marketing are immediate and cost-effective, enabling the push-pull features and personalized content consumers want.
Connecting the Pieces
As various social and interactive communication channels enter and leave the marketplace, CMOs can gain the strongest impact by blending all of these communication channels into one comprehensive interactive marketing strategy.
Cross-promotional efforts can help companies spread the word as new online marketing platforms are launched, boosting follower interest and opt-in. Below are 10 popular strategies companies use to maximize their digital marketing mix.
1. Use email marketing newsletters to announce new LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter feeds, directing readers to social networking websites for sign-up.
2. Use Twitter to link followers to your latest email newsletter publication or blog article online to fuel interest and re-tweets.
3. Change email newsletter registration sections to include an option for joining the company’s social networks.
4. Use the sidebar on your email marketing newsletter to list all company social networking profiles, and use social networking profiles to gather email newsletter sign-ups.
5. Invite customers to participate in YouTube viral marketing video contests that show real consumers using and enjoying your products or solutions.
6. Read and respond to comments within social networks, developing newsletter or blog articles around topics readers discuss the most.
7. Launch a regular Q&A section in your company’s email newsletter that specifically addresses reader questions across all social networking platforms.
8. Include a link to your help forum or YouTube video tutorial within purchase confirmation emails.
9. Include a social bookmark console on product pages in case readers want to share your website or products with others.
10. Join relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups, assigning knowledgeable representatives within your company to answer questions, thus positioning your company as a valuable industry resource.
When businesses share, network and create a dialog with their customers using various interactive marketing strategies, they show the public that they truly care about their customer’s experience before, during and after the sale.
* According to the company’s Interactive Advertising Model published on July 7, 2009.