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View from Your Inbox
Boosting your social media profile can be easily done with a few ideas that fuse e-mail with your social connection.
Auto recycling businesses looking to maximize social media, but feel overwhelmed by the idea, have no fear. Doing so is as easy as integrating it into existing e-mail marketing programs.

I think I just heard a collective sigh of relief, so sit back and take note of these easy-to-implement ideas to add power to your promotions.

View from the Social Inbox – a study released in 2010 by Merkle, which is a large customer relationship marketing agency (www.merkleinc.com) – revealed an interesting statistic, uncovering good news for auto recyclers already accustomed  to utilizing e-mail-driven promotional campaigns.

The study found that active social networkers are also likely to be avid e-mail users. All told, the study found 42% of social networkers check their e-mail four or more times a day, as compared to just 27% of those who don’t socialize online.

Merkle’s Director of Research and Analytics, Lori Connolly, said, “There is no doubt that social media sites, such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have grown in popularity across demographics. Yet, we are seeing consistent social use of the e-mail channel, as well as evidence to support the idea that social networking and e-mail use are actually more related than previously thought.”

In the eBook, The Ultimate Guide to E-mail Marketing, Kevin Gao, software developer and CEO of Comm100 (www.comm100.com), an enterprise-level customer service and communication solutions company, makes similar observations.

Gao suggests, “Does it make sense for you to allocate all of your marketing resources to social media? No! E-mail marketing is still a very important part of any complete web marketing strategy. Of course, in the socially-networked world, you’ll need to combine your e-mail marketing and social media marketing strategies together to meet different goals.”

The Case to Preserve E-mail

Gao’s insightful ebook also makes the following points:

• E-mail marketing still provides the highest return on investment: This makes sense when you think about how little overhead or time it can take to send an extremely targeted e-mail to a very specific group of customers.
• Consumers and users do not switch e-mail addresses – but they do migrate social media: Do you remember MySpace? What? You don’t? ... Point made. If there is one thing that seems to be true of social media, it is that users will eventually migrate to another social network. That, however, is not true of e-mail addresses. Certainly, people sometimes change their e-mail address. But more frequently they simply add a secondary e-mail address and use their older e-mail address less often or for different purposes.
• Messages do not disappear from inboxes: Once you send an e-mail marketing message to a customer, that message remains in that individual’s e-mail inbox until the individual either reads it or actively chooses to delete it. Even if the user hasn’t read the e-mail, your e-mail subject line is still there in the inbox reminding the user of their relationship with your brand.
• E-mail marketing is targeted while social media is “One Size Fits All:” Your marketing database contains information that allows you to segment and target communications based on facts, such as purchasing history, gender, age, and even geographic location. Social media and social networks do not allow you to target messages effectively.
• Social Media is a brand engagement tool, not a direct sales tool: A great part of the reason that e-mail marketing continues to deliver the highest return on investment of all marketing channels is that how users behave on social media networks does not translate into direct sales. While social media users gather information and discuss products, they don’t necessarily buy products. Social media is very important for your brand engagement. It is not, however, typically a direct sales channel like e-mail marketing is.
• E-mail marketing and social media need to work together: Any good marketing plan is comprehensive. That means that, yes, your e-mail marketing and social media platform should work together. There should be opportunities for users to share e-mail content via social media networks and opportunities for users to join your e-mail marketing list via social media.

Merging Media: High End
Besides doing simple cross promotions, you can also invest in some new tools to get even more mileage out of your e-mail list. For the serious-about-social-marketing businesses, premium products are an investment in the future, and can yield significant results if used properly. These products are not for every auto recycling business, as the average yearly contract cost can reach around $60,000.

One service, StrongMail® Social Studio™ (www.strongmail.com), for example, enables you to filter your e-mail list for people who are known in social media as “top influencers” – or people who have a lot of active friends online.
The program identifies top social influencers by loading your e-mail address list into the software, and searches the Web for ones that are associated with heavy social media activity. This allows you to use this data to e-mail and offer these top influencers rewards and/or other offers in exchange for promoting your business to their friends, i.e., to alert them about your specials, discounts, and promotions. “The real value of social media marketing is to move beyond merely listening, to start driving actual revenue,” says Paul Bates, UK managing director at StrongMail.

You’ll find there are other programs similar to Social Studio that offer businesses virtual dashboards they can use to create, manage, and monitor offers to top influencers across a number of digital mediums, including e-mail, social, mobile, and Web.

ExactTarget’s Interactive Marketing Hub (www.exacttarget.com), for example, includes a CoTweet Social module, which enables businesses to manage their interactions with top influencers and others on multiple Twitter and
Facebook accounts, and includes a number of analytics tools and reports.

Another module within the package, Sites, enables you, or your Web designer, to create, design and deploy Web pages that are embedded with links to your presence on Facebook, Twitter and similar social networks.
Still another program with similar capabilities is the Responsys Interact Suite, from Responsys (www.responsys.
com/suite/index.php).

Merging Media: DIY
As the fusion between social media and e-mail marketing gels at your business, here are some tactics to consider when combining the two.

• The easiest way, and one you most likely already do, is to begin fusing your social media efforts with your e-mail marketing to ensure that each effort includes an element of the other. This simply means always embedding your company’s e-mail address in any activity you engage in on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, and having all your social media links in any e-mail you send.
• Use social media to alert customers to e-mail activity, such as special promotions, announcements, and events.
• Use social media to drive opt-in on your e-mail list. For Facebook, for example, provide a post to both “like” your page and to register to be a part of your e-mail marketing database. Mention a “Welcome” offer or coupon that they will receive to join the list. 

On Twitter, tease about a pending e-mail campaign they won’t want to miss, with a link for the sign-up form.
Also, embedding share-to-social links in your e-mails (add-ons that are found in most e-mail marketing tools, like Constant Contact, etc.) to drive content sharing across channels. This instantly offers clickable access to dozens of your social networking sites.

• Maximize testimonials. Customer accolades look good on a company Web site, but for some, they look even better on your Facebook page.

You can solicit testimonials by e-mailing new customers shortly after a visit, and inviting them to submit a review. Initially, post glowing responses on your Web site, and then – with permission – on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks as well.

For even more mileage, ask your customer to repost the submitted testimonial to his/her own Twitter, Facebook and similar feeds, and offer a small reward or compensation as incentive.

Do the same for any spontaneous testimonials from your customers that pop-up on Facebook and Twitter, with permission from the author, of course.

• Be Liked. The Like button on Facebook is a coveted click in the marketing world. When someone likes your business on Facebook, your product or service becomes quantifiably more important, and more desirable.
• Hold contests. The immediacy of social networks perfectly lends itself to time-sensitive contests. Hold an answer-the-question contest once a week, rewarding the first person with the right answer with a valuable prize or free service. And, of course, use e-mail to stoke interest, and report on the contest winners.
• Go where your customers hang out. If they don’t tweet, invest your time elsewhere. n

Caryn Smith is the editor of Automotive Recycling magazine. Joe Dysart is a freelance writer.

THE 5 PROVEN E-MAIL PRACTICES TO DRIVE REVENUE

In an ExactTarget 2012 report, 66% of consumers say they’ve made a purchase as a result of receiving an e-mail and 77% of consumers surveyed prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications via e-mail than any other channel. Despite the growth of mobile and social channels, e-mail is the channel consumers choose when it comes to driving revenue and ongoing engagement with companies. Here are some of ExactTarget’s tips for e-mail success:

1) Gain Subscribers: Consider your Web site, printed receipts, on-location signage, the online purchase process, events, or tradeshows to capture e-mail addresses; test different opt-in techniques; choose several opt-in methods and track them to determine your most successful source of new subscribers; and, get social – if your subscriber list has hit a plateau, you may be overlooking a captive audience, your Facebook fans! A simple sign-up form will drive e-mail opt-ins.

2) Improve deliverability: Maintain a consistent “From” name; and, double check your subject line to  avoid spam filters by excluding the following characters and terms: RE:, FW:, Hello, Free, Special Offer, text in ALL CAPS, and exclamation points!!!

3) Design for clicks: Design for mobile – ExactTarget surveys show that more than half of consumers (53%) use a smartphone to check e-mail at least several times per day; and, put your most important information in the upper left quadrant – research proves that the human eye scans e-mail in an “F” pattern.

4) Drive engagement: A recent study by eMarketer revealed that 56% of U.S. e-mail users unsubscribe to a business e-mail list because the content was no longer relevant. Use all the data you know about your subscribers—gender, job title, hobbies, and interests, purchase history, browsing history, social media presence, etc. to create interesting e-mails.

5) Use automation: Automate a welcome program (easily accomplished with most e-mail marketing tools, like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact); capitalize on cross-sell and up-sell opportunities and include offers on related products or services when you send e-mail receipts or online transaction confirmations. E-mails like this are easily automated and allow you to maximize your customer data to boost revenue opportunities.

— Excepts from www.ExactTarget.com. Want more tips and tricks from ExactTarget?
Visit www.ExactTarget.com/Resources for other helpful downloads.

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