The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

Informz Users Conference Big Idea - Email Really IS Social

Posted by Ray van Hilst on Tue, Sep 20, 2011



Yesterday was the kickoff of Informz’s first Users Conference.  The day was jam-packed with rooms full of Informz users and partners learning and sharing best practices relating to email marketing for associations and non-profits.  Topics included messaging, design, deliverability and other typical email marketing topics.

However the big idea I walked away with was how closely email marketing and social media are aligned and coexist successfully.

For all the talk of social media being the death of email, it’s clear not only is email marketing stronger than ever, but it is now permanently connected to social media efforts.

Social AND Email are built for Sharing - Let’s start with the fact social is all about sharing.  However according to a recent study, email is still the #1 way that web users share content with others and in 2010, 86% of you did it shared a piece of content through email.  Let’s face it, that impulse to hit “forward” on a funny or relevant email isn’t going away.

“Social and Email are BFFs” – It’s not often that you can use the phrase “BFF” in a business email so maybe it’s better to say “have a symbiotic relationship.”  Several speakers spoke of how they compliment each other.  Here are a couple of examples

      • Email can drive success in social media.  Make sure to promot your public outposts (e.g. Facebook and LinkedIn) and that content in your emails to increase engagement (and followers).

      • SMPS showed off their promotion encouraging members to add content and resources to their private online community… through an email campaign. With each email send, content was uploaded to the community adding member value through both social and email.

Email should be part of your Social Media Guidelines and Policies - While you are worried about social media policies and risk, have you considered email?  (Frankly, this one was my “A-HA moment” of the day.)

Organizations go to great lengths to document policies and guidelines about can be shared online and how to interact in social media, but little thought has been given to adding email to these guidelines.  Given how quickly and prevalent sharing of content is though social media this seems a no brainer, yet I’m sure many associations haven’t considered this in their guidelines.   If you don’t know where to start, check out this Social Media Policy primer from Socialfish – and then ask yourself where does your email marketing and outreach efforts fit into this.

Of course there were more great tips and takeaways. Here are a few memorable ones :

    • Transactional emails get opened since people are expecting them – use that opportunity to cross-promote other content.

    • More and more emails are being opened on mobile devices.  Design with mobile in mind by keeping your width to 600 pixels wide and not using sidebars.

    • Keep the HTML in your email simple.  This isn’t web design.

    • Embrace the power of “Diamond Writing” – Put the most important content at the top AND bottom of your email

The reality is that email marketing always has been and will be about great content.  The goal is to drive members and users to your website (and get them to do something). It is still the most powerful tool organizations have to reach out to their members and drive that traffic.  Use it wisely and you’ll be rewarded.

Topics: Communications, Ray van Hilst, Uncategorized, social media, informz, email marketing, social media guidelines

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