GOOD ALL ON THEIR OWN, BUT BETTER TOGETHER
Marketers have long understood the utility of email marketing and social media marketing independently, but integrating the two channels maximizes the reach and effectiveness of both. One could say, in fact, that the two are better together — like peanut butter and chocolate.
- The benefits of email and social marketing integration include organic list growth, real-time metrics to inform and enhance messaging and content, and opportunities to customize content and target social influencers.
- Integration should not be a retrofit, but should be planned as an early, collaborative strategy to reach business goals.
- A number of relatively easy-to-implement tactics allow marketers to use email to drive social engagement and social engagement to drive email opt-in.
This POV explores the value of email and social media and explains how they can be blended for more effective results.
THE VALUE OF EMAIL AND APPEAL OF SOCIAL CONNECTION
Even amid reports of the demise of email, it remains fundamental to practically every online activity in which users participate. Think back to the last time you were on the Internet. It could be your favorite store, a music sharing site or even your favorite social media platform. What did you use to login? Chances are, your user name was your email address. In this day and age, email addresses have become the most common identifier for a unique individual using the Internet. Email is still the workhorse of marketers, accounting for greater than 10 percent of sales among 55 percent of companies, according to Econsultancy’s Email Marketing Industry Census 2014.
On the flipside, people consistently log in to social channels to engage with their peers, news outlets, brands and everything in between. Content shared through social platforms can be tailored so that it’s valuable and relevant to consumers, and its reach extends even further when your biggest supporters share content on your behalf. On top of this, metrics of engagement are freely available, so it’s easy to quantify results in real time.
SO WHY SHOULD PHARMA MARKETERS INTEGRATE EMAIL AND SOCIAL MARKETING?
Leveraging the two channels in tandem can help pharma brands maximize both reach and effectiveness. Here’s how:
- Both are desired channels for healthcare information. According to an Accenture study of 2,000 U.S. patients, people commonly search for health information in a number of channels, including digital channels. Of those patients included in the study, 64 percent said they would agree to give a pharma company their personal information in exchange for free and meaningful content. Additionally, 38 percent said they also want to interact with pharmaceutical companies through social channels.
- Social sharing drives email list growth. List growth is often a key measurement for pharma brand marketers, though finding that audience can be a challenge. Social sharing allows your subscribers to share your content with their contacts, providing valuable exposure to prospects that you have been unable to reach. This can organically build your list when those contacts find your message relevant and opt-in to communications.
- Active email readers lead to active social sharers. Patients often consider word-of-mouth reviews of drug performance as a credible source of information, but it can be difficult for pharma marketers to capture successful patient stories. Utilizing email service providers to pinpoint customers that frequently share email content provides a unique opportunity for pharma marketers to design customized campaign content to leverage the voice of social influencers.
- Insights from one channel can inform the other. Social media engagement metrics can inform and enhance email marketing efforts by providing rich insight into what is resonating with customers and vice versa.
- Wider channel options enable tailored channel preferences. Not all people have the same communication preferences, and providing multiple touchpoints and channels (social and email) allows your audience to choose where they engage with your brand.
- Channel variety offers variability in content and tone. There are prescribed best practices in email marketing, but the wide variety of social channels and audience demographics allow you to take advantage of different forms of communication in different platforms. For example, you may employ a formal tone in an email newsletter, but opt for a casual voice on Twitter.
WHEN AND HOW TO MIX PEANUT BUTTER WITH CHOCOLATE
The most effective way to integrate email and social is to implement a collaborative strategy from inception. First, identify business goals and customer communication strategies for achieving those goals. Once identified at the high level, bring the email and social media experts together to determine the programs and tactics that will sync up best to reach the objectives.
SIMPLE WAYS TO USE EMAIL TO DRIVE SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT
- Incorporate social “connect” and “share” buttons on all emails.
- Provide the opportunity to connect to brand social pages on both opt-in and opt-out pages.
- Add retweet links to emails that autopopulate to make sharing easy.
- Send a dedicated email invitation to “connect” to social properties.
- Analyze email program results to identify social content.
SIMPLE WAYS TO USE SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT TO DRIVE EMAIL OPT-IN
- Periodically prompt for email opt-in through Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn posts. Consider a dedicated Facebook tab for email opt-in.
- Include a link to email opt-in on the last slide of any SlideShare presentation or within an end-of-video bumper on YouTube.
- Extend email creative by linking to web versions on social properties or showcasing it on a Pinterest board.
- Conduct surveys and contests on social channels to encourage email opt-in.
- Use social analytics to drive email content.
“Integrated marketing is obviously common sense, but amazingly still not common practice.” – Peter Fisk, CEO, The Chartered Institute of Marketing
AND, DON’T FORGET…
Without air-tight FDA guidelines on pharma participation in social channels, it can be easy to ignore social channels altogether or to think of them as a short-term campaign. There is no shortage of inactive pharma social properties to prove that point. Social media for pharma requires a commitment to staying active, as well as compliant. Social media marketing is not a campaign; there is no end date.
On the other hand, the one-way communication of email is the more tried-and-true of the two channels, leveraged in many pharmaceutical CRM programs today. But the volume of consumer email only keeps growing, and it can be difficult to break through the noise. Marketers who limit their consumer communications to emails and websites alone are missing important opportunities to connect with customers.
It’s true that there are evangelists of both peanut butter and chocolate, just as there are champions for both email and social media marketing. However, we have seen them work even better together for our pharma clients. Pharma marketers should plan ahead for integration and allocate resource commitments for the long term in order to leverage the powerful combination of email and social media marketing. These efforts can pay dividends when you achieve that magical flavor combination that builds solid relationships with today’s patient populations.