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3 Ways Social Media Is Changing Email Marketing

February 2, 2011 By Heather Fletcher
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Direct marketers are waiting to see what Facebook's new messaging platform and associated email addresses mean to email marketing before spending time and money on related campaigns, marketing vendors report. But social email strategies are already being considered by everyone from email service providers to marketing consultants. They believe social email should absolutely be taken seriously—right now.

Facebook's unveiling of its new messaging platform, which includes the introduction of email addresses, coincides with added social functionality in major email platforms. AOL, Hotmail and Yahoo are among the email providers who made major upgrades in 2010, says Tom Sather, director of professional services at New York-based email performance management company Return Path.

Already, some of those email provider upgrades are outshining Facebook's messaging capabilities, Sather says. Email marketers should consider advice about creating a social media strategy now, while keeping an eye on Facebook's messaging platform. 

Get in the social email game, or at least start creating the playbook, before you get trampled.

1. Customers receiving emails have no reason to break up with marketers—yet. “People still use email a lot for signing up to newsletters, transacting online, site sign-ups, notifications, etc.,” Sather says. “So they will be reluctant to use their address if it gets in the way of this experience. Also, email providers are already way ahead of the curve when it comes to email and not only offer the same features [as] Facebook Messages (like SMS) but they also offer a much richer experience.”

But, if the new social email platforms are more convenient and maintaining old relationships is more cumbersome, marketers may worry that consumers will just move on. Plus, more socially wired consumers may have already moved on, and platforms like Facebook Messages may provide an opening for marketers to get back in the game.

For instance, email is already low on the priority list for Jennifer Stauss Windrum, an Omaha-based freelance public relations and social media strategist who got her address a couple weeks ago. “My guess is that I will slowly integrate the Facebook email into my everyday use,” she says via her personal Gmail account. “Social media is my work, so I spend most of my time communicating via Facebook and/or Twitter and much less time answering emails. In fact, the way I start my day is: Check Twitter first, Facebook second and email … later!” 


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