One of the last panels that I caught at the New Marketing Experience conference in San Francisco touched on something that I’ve experienced: email marketing. Now, most of the conference had been about social media, Twitter, Facebook and the like, so what possible place could email marketing have in a talk that centered around new and inbound marketing? The answer: everything. Email isn’t going away anytime soon and is probably one of the most widely adopted forms of communication out there today. So why shouldn’t we talk about email marketing?

The panel at the New Marketing Experience consisted of Justin Levy of New Marketing Labs, Stu Carty of Constant Contact, DJ Waldow of Blue Sky Factory and Len Shneyder of the Unica Corporation. Here’s some of the highlights of the panel:

Email and social media can be integrated. Some email companies like Blue Sky Factory are using the social web as a means of getting information and education out there talking about how to best use email marketing. Whether it’s through workshops, sessions and panels arranged through a webinar, blog post, etc, there is a continued push towards getting more people aware about the advantages and pitfalls towards an email marketing campaign. And while there are a lot of companies focusing on using social media, both the two email marketing representatives, Waldow and Carty, say that email marketing campaigns like their’s, respectively, are continually growing. But as it relates to the marriage between email and social media, the advice that’s given is that you can have a “call to action” on your email that will allow your readers to share the email with their friends, family, constituents, etc. It can also be a trackable web address as well by using a URL shortener or Google Analytics tracking tag. Additional features to help make it social include having a “subscribe me” or a “share this” widget embedded that will help make your campaigns more viral, especially if your goal is to promote your product more.

It’s not either/or, but AND. Don’t think that just because email marketing is around that you need to choose between the two. It’s perfectly fine, and probably advisable to have both an email program and social media presence. It is, after all, just another touch point for your customers to get more information from you. According to the panel, the email campaigns can be used to tell your subscribers where to find you – imagine putting in your email links to your Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, etc. – it’s just a nice point of reference. And when people visit your website or social channels, you can easily point them to the area where they can opt-in and subscribe to receive your emails.

KISS stands for “Keep It Short…” Yes, you’re going to think that there are a lot of news that you want to share with your customers, but in the world of social media, we’re probably often more acclimated to the short and abbreviated version. The tip here is to keep your email that you send out short, but tell the important things. Then if the reader wants to learn more, they can then click through to a website that will contain more information about the news and other ways for them to share it – whether it’s on your company’s blog, Facebook page or a special site devoted exclusively to emails.

Learn where you’re sending it. With more people now on mobile devices like Blackberry’s, iPhones, Android and even Palm Pre devices, you’re going to have to adapt your style to make sure that your emails are accessible to everyone. That means that you’ll have to look at what people who are receiving emails online will be able to read. If that means that it’s taking them too long to read the entire thing, then you might want to shorten it up and have them open up a new browser to read the news that is really relevant for them. See the point I made earlier about KISS…

Low numbers could mean less valuable content. Don’t just sit there and keep sending out the same content over and over again expecting it to pick up. If your email numbers are dwindling – and that goes for people that either unsubscribe, mark it as spam or just don’t open the email, then you’re going to need to re-evaluate the content you’re sending out. Poll your readers and take a sample of what they’re interested in. Don’t keep pushing out information. Just like inbound marketing, you’re going to need to earn their trust and show that you can share valuable and relevant content with them.

You can read more about email marketing and get some helpful tips on Blue Sky Factory’s website and Constant Contact’s website.

Photo Credit: Kenneth Yeung

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