Reports of the death of email are wildly exaggerated. Seventy-five percent of adults – across all age groups except 65+ – prefer companies communicate with them through email. With various studies showing 4000% ROI on email marketing, companies should love email back.

But what about social media? Isn’t that where all the action is?

Some of it. There’s no doubt that social media contributed to the relative decline in email usage, but recent McKinsey research shows that emails still lead to more purchases and higher value purchases than social media.

We can even take the email ROI studies with a monstrous grain of salt and cut down those expectation by half – enjoying a 2000% ROI on a marketing effort is nothing to sneer at.

Email Social Media is the New Peanut Butter & Jelly

Socialize Your Emails Marketing Process

When you combine the fairly low costs of email and social media, you’re approaching the edge of even greater ROI. Promoting sign-ups for your emails or newsletter through your social media accounts is an effective way to adding people to your list, but that’s not what I’m focusing on here.

Socializing your email, meaning to incorporate social media access and tactics, into your emails amplifies the reach and value of your email marketing campaign. Growing your list with new subscribers is only one of the benefits of socializing your email.

The other great benefit is that it brings the power of what makes social media valuable – enabling actual interaction between your company and your customers/prospects – into email. As you make it easy for your readers to share your emails and its content, you give them more ways to interact with your brand, and you’ll learn more about your community, be able to identify influencers, and strengthen your mutual connection.

So let’s get into some basic and advanced tactics for you to capitalize on socializing your email.

Social Email Musts

The most basic tactic is including social media buttons in your emails so people can join your social networks. At the bottom of a Content Marketing Institute email, you’ll see:

CMI has two clear calls-to-action here: Connect with them at any of the social media sites and forward this email to a friend.

Sociallize Your Email - Forward to a Friend

You can add both these calls-to-action at the top of your email, the bottom, or along the side. The point is – make it easy for them to connect with you through social media and include the overt ask that they share your email. Asking them to forward the email is the second basic tactic.

However, you also want to let them to share the email through social media. Here’s how MarketingProfs Today does it:

Sociallize Your Email - In This Issue

In addition to including an email sharing option, this email gives readers a one-click option to share the email through social media. Now you’ve given your readers tools to be ambassadors.

You don’t need to include both kinds of social media icons in your emails. Based on where your greatest engagement with your community is, you can prioritize either encouraging people towards connecting with you on social media or extending the reach of your emails/newsletter by having current subscribers find you new subscribers.

Regardless of which call-to-action a row of social media icons will have, make it clear what will happen when a reader clicks on one.

Take a look at this common display of social media icons taken from an email list I subscribe to:

Sociallize Your Email - Social Media Icons

It looks clean and lovely, but I don’t know what’s going to happen when I click. Can I share the email through these buttons or am I joining their network?

Conclusion: Include your call-to-action with your social media icons.

One more “Basic Plus” tactic: Include social media connection icons in your post-subscription thank you and unsubscribe pages.

Socializing Email Beyond the Basics

Any email service provider (ESP) worth using is already making it very easy for you to implement the basic tactics. Many also provide the means for more precise engagement. Going back to the MarketingProfs Today email:

Sociallize Your Email - Share Icons

These icons let readers share a specific bit of your content with their community from right within your email. People are always looking for good content to share, so make it easy for them to share yours.

Other types of social media functionality ESPs may provide include:

  • Taking readers to a specific piece of content on your Facebook or Google+ page, or Twitter stream; particularly useful when you want to get comments and engagement on a specific post
  • Predefine custom content that will appear as a tweet or Facebook update.

Search the help section of your ESP to find out the exact scope of its social media sharing capabilities and how to use them.

Creating Social Media Specific Emails

Send an email dedicated to letting your subscribers know how they can share these emails and its content. This is a great email to send if you’re just adding social media icons to your emails, but can also be done as a “hey, have you noticed…” type email. Highlight where the icons are located (they should always be in the same place in your emails) and what your readers can do with them.

Once you start getting some social shares through your email, you can use analytics to identify which users are high volume sharers and which tools they’re using.

Create a new list segment, say for “Twitter Ambassadors” as an example. You can now send Twitter-centric emails to this group with multiple pre-defined tweets.

Promote a social media contest you’re running and include an explicit call-to-action for them to share this contest with their followers. Or perhaps make Twitter-related calls-to-action like asking a relevant question for users to answer in a tweet with a campaign hashtag. Or maybe it’s an Instagram or Tumblr campaign that makes the most sense for your community.

This is the kind of good information your social email analytics will tell you.

Your subscribers’ interaction with you via social media is another source of email content.

Remember, sharing is a two-way street and people love to know you’re listening back. Write an email highlighting the best responses or contest entries to the Twitter campaign you sent out to your “Twitter Ambassadors” list, but send this round-up email to your entire list.

Did someone take the initiative and create some really nice content on one of their social media profiles – thank them for it with an email. It may give other subscribers some ideas.

What are your social email ideas? You can share them below in the comments section.