About a decade ago, you could realistically avoid social media and email marketing and still potentially have a healthy demand generation program for your business. Sure enough, many did - they're not the easiest branches of digital marketing to dive into, and many would avoid them for simpler options if they could.
Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. Even more so, one begets the other - there’s no escaping the two because both tactics go hand in hand as crucial components of modern growth marketing strategies.
The fear is unwarranted, however - the beauty of both of these is that they play off each other wonderfully. Social media drives email marketing success, which in turn drives social media engagement. Really, the do-si-do of these 2 modes can scale long-term viral growth.
What is Email Marketing?
Email marketing is in broad strokes, a strategy where one sends a group of people, usually subscribers or a customer base, marketing messages via email. Email marketing is quite effective in generating revenue for a simple reason - it's driven by obvious, value-driven and measurable calls to action.
According to the State of Email Marketing Survey Summary Report by Ascend2, email marketing was dominating the digital marketing landscape. They found that both direct sales and other complex sales channels relied on the efficiency of email marketing to reach buyers.
More recently in 2019, Ascend2 has found in their recent Email Marketing Survey Summary report that 64% of marketing influencers find email marketing to be improving, but 21% consider the marketing strategy to be getting worse. In other words, email marketing is in flux for a variety of reasons. Looking at the progression of the two reports, it makes sense why marketing influencers need social media to grow the email list and supplement the effectiveness of email marketing.
The role of Social Media
When social media is integrated with email marketing, it results in robust end-to-end digital marketing outreach. Social media expands the reach of the brand and ultimately drives traffic to email lists. Part of why it's especially effective is that Social Media is already a communication medium - leads who are receptive to communication on social media are already primed to sign up for further communication via email marketing.
The quickest (but maybe not the best) way to use social media to grow an email list is by including the email sign-up form on the company's various social media channels. Every time a visitor comes on the page, they're invited and encouraged to sign up to the email list - already primed via their interaction on social.
First Things First: How to Get Started Growing an Email List
First, offer a freebie, known often as a lead magnet, to visitors coming to the page in exchange for their email address. The lead magnet needs to be a resource that meets the needs of the potential subscriber. It can be an ebook, video, checklist, worksheet, or course, and it needs to be a downloadable asset.
For example, a brand that's targeting a small business owner concerned about using video marketing to grow their business can use a course with tips on how to use video to increase revenue as the lead magnet. The good news is that one can use more than one lead magnet by creating a learning center or resource tab. For example, look at how visual.ly does it.
The second tip is to create a dedicated landing page that features the lead magnet and sign-up form to join the email list. This page is referred to as the squeeze page, and its conversion rates will make or break your email marketing success.
Five ways to continue growing the email list using social media
Make it easy to share
Making content easily shareable means more people will see it. Rely on already existing subscribers on the email list who’ve already received the lead magnet resource like an ebook or checklist to get the word out about the resource. Create a squeeze page that thanks subscribers for using the resource and encourage them to share the landing page where others can get the resources as well.
Configure like buttons for all social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, among others. It’s discussed below how important it is to follow bloggers and influencers in the same space as the brand on Twitter and other channels. Well, this is why. By following them and incentivizing them to follow back and join the email list, they provide access to their audience by advocating the company's products and services - network effects!
Let’s start with the more straightforward tasks that can be done immediately to grow your list. On the Facebook page, you can place the URL for the best lead magnet resource in the main posting field and also in the description box. It’s wise rotating these occasionally.
Facebook experiences traffic from over 2 billion users every month. Using Facebook ads are an inexpensive way to gain high exposure to your lead magnets.
Before setting up the ad, the brand's Facebook business page needs to be connected to their Facebook business manager account. Next, create an Ad account.
Now it is time to create the ad. Click on the Facebook Ad manager and select Conversions as the objective of the ad. Give the ad a name and then click on the "next" tab. Define the target audience for the ad by using a retargeting pixel or targeting the competition's audience in the "detailed targeting" section.
Pixel-based retargeting redisplays the brand's sign-up form and lead magnet to any anonymous visitor to the Facebook page. A neat trick that is facilitated by the Facebook retargeting pixel is the use of custom audiences to create new audiences. All one needs to do is upload the company's current email list to create a custom audience that is similar to the customers on the current email list. Now target this lookalike audience using the custom audiences field and promote the lead magnet to them.
(Remember to exclude the current customers from the ad, so it doesn't reach customers who have already bought the products or services.)
Facebook Page Cover Photo
Use the description for the cover photo to insert the URL for the lead magnet onto the Facebook page. Alternatively, place the link to the website's landing page in the cover photo description.
Facebook Page Call to Action Button
This tab redirects traffic from the Facebook page to the landing page of the brand's website. Using the sign-up text option will link it directly to the squeeze page (landing page) of the website.
Driving list growth with Twitter is pretty straightforward - Twitter as a platform just requires some active management to drive steady traffic. The Twitter "Add your bio" section is a great place to start off.
Place the lead magnet URL in that section along with other details about the brand or individual. As people read this section, they have higher chances of clicking on the URL to see what the brand is about. The bio also shows up on Twitter search results, increasing the chances of being opened by more people. Keep the bio section clear of any hashtags to minimize the chances of leads being distracted from the lead magnet URL.
The more comprehensive approach will need some editorial thought into what to communicate and how frequently before you begin sending out any tweets. Research the keywords to include to generate the kind of leads the brand is looking for.
Once these two preparations are in place, start tweeting, retweeting, and following other brands and individuals in the same space. This may go on for a while as the brand gains a strong following. It is okay to entice people to follow the brand by offering gifts like free courses or ebooks.
Once the fan base has grown sufficiently invite the followers to join the email list to receive more targeted resources. An incentive here doesn't hurt as well. Perhaps a free checklist or worksheet. Besides, it is easier for followers to join the email list because they have built trust in the brand.
At this point, selling them some products or services is considered perfect timing - you’ve hit peak buying interest.
Advertise on Twitter
This works very similarly to Facebook Ads, where the brand can target custom audiences with tweets containing links to their lead magnets. To create a custom audience on Twitter, upload the current email list onto the platform's audience manager. Select the email list as a tailored audience and check the small box for targeting similar audiences to the tailored audience.
LinkedIn is the most popular professional social media channel with millions of experts and skilled individuals using the platform for work and business. To grow an email list on the platform, use the publication section which allows users to promote some of their content.
Link directly to the lead magnet like an ebook or to the website's landing page. The more frictionless and step-less this journey is, the higher your conversions will be.
Another useful lead magnet section on LinkedIn is the Projects section of the platform.
To access the publication and project sections go to the Add profile section and click on the drop-down arrow. Click on the accomplishments section to reveal the projects and publication sections.
With LinkedIn, you'll tend to attract a higher caliber of leads because it is a professional platform. The audience is more primed for buying/signing up BUT they demand a higher level of value and are far less susceptible to engaging with fluffy content.
Since visibility is everything in attracting leads, place the lead magnet URL in the contact info. This way, even people who aren't logged on to the platform can still see the URL.
LinkedIn ads target processionals and can land a very upmarket audience for your email list. The platform has made it very easy to configure and run ads by using the campaign manager.
To begin with, open the campaign manager and create an account.
Next, launch a campaign using either sponsored content or text ads. Text ads appear on the side and top of the LinkedIn member's page while sponsored content is naturally inserted in the member's feed. The advantage with sponsored content is that one ad can be creatively tweaked to run in different variations.
For simple ads, the text ads are the way to go. But for more elaborate ads choosing sponsored content would be ideal. The variations for sponsored content ads include showcasing a company page, updating to the company, or creating an entirely new ad.
And there you have it - a dirt simple trifecta of getting off the ground on social media marketing and email marketing. Just remember: done correctly, these 3 channels should funnel into a highly optimized squeeze page and drive predictable revenue - the holy grail of modern businesses.
Oh, and a bonus tip/strategy to help kick off your social-media-email-marketing-melage:
Create a social media challenge and invite members to be a part of it to hold the brand accountable. For example, one can create a 30-day everyday video creation challenge. Create a private Facebook group for participants to post inspiration to each other or hold each other accountable.
Encourage members to share about the challenge with stories of why they are creating personal videos and their journey of creativity. As more people join the challenge, they also get word of the brand and click on the lead magnet to find out more about the company.
These buyers will be particularly interested in keeping tabs on the company, making them the ideal fit to funnel towards an email marketing program/newsletter.
For increased engagement and even more growth of the email list, taking word of the challenge to other social media channels is crucial. Choose a hashtag to help visitors search and find the campaign easier wherever they log on to.
Here is the best part:
To keep a challenge fresh and relevant every day for 30 days, send task or inspirational messages each day of the challenge to participants via an autoresponder. An email marketing automation tool will send the messages every day without any prompting from anyone - your email grows your social, which grows your email, which grows your social, ad infinitum.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
The Email Marketing Renaissance
Email marketing is not dead as some clickbait headlines would like to make everyone believe (not by a longshot). However, to maximize marketing success it should no longer operate as a stand-alone strategy - it requires a strong social media infrastructure to parry off of.
Hopefully this guide offers a (albeit high-level) primer for building your social-email program. After the fundamentals are set, it becomes a game of numbers and optimization.