I read a very interesting article the other day on the Marketing Sherpa blog highlighting how social media and email work together.  Some of the takeaways that stuck with me are statistics that were found in Merkle's study “View from the Social Inbox 2010”:

  • 42% of social media users check their email four times a day or more as opposed to 27% of those that do not use social media
  • 63% indicated that their email address for social media is the same for opt-in permission based email

What does this mean and how do they relate to each other?

First the obvious: social media users are two times more likely to be checking their email at least four times per day, disproving the long standing notion that email deployment should only occur Monday - Friday and in the morning.

Since social media users are regularly checking their inbox, email campaigns can be deployed at non-traditional times (evenings and weekends), with greater confidence that they will be viewed, and even better, acted upon.

For example, if a restaurant would like to offer a special for the weekend, they can deploy an email Friday afternoon knowing customers on their distribution lists will view their email.

Given this information, experimenting with non-traditional email send times can dramatically increase the ROI of certain campaigns.

Email as a Viral Marketing Catalyst

Social and Email 2With over 60% of social media users having the same email address for their social media accounts and opt-in permission emails, the barrier to share relative messages from one channel to the other is no longer limited.

Besides viewing the email and completing the Call to Action, the greatest benefit an engaged social media user can bring to an email distribution list is the potential of making the email message viral amongst their social network.

Social media users tend to have “friends/followers” who share the same interests amongst a variety of things.  As marketers, our challenge is to serve up relative content to the customer that they find worthy of sharing.

The Merkle study indicates that 20% of Facebook, MySpace and/or Twitter users have posted or shared an email/message from their opt-in permission emails. With highly engaged social media users checking their email four times a day, the potential of an email reaching beyond the original distribution list is high, a key catalyst to establishing a viral expansion loop.

In fact, Silverpop estimates that posted/shared messages on social networks reach around a 25% greater audience than an original email communication. It's amazing that your email distribution list could increase 25% through your recipients sharing with their social network.

Thinking back to the restaurant example from before, one email sent out Friday afternoon notifying your email distribution list of your weekend special could turn into a pretty significant ROI!

So how does this become a reality? If I knew the simple answer I would be making a lot more money writing this blog.  With that said, I think it all goes back to knowing your customer and keeping them engaged with your brand or product. The more you know about them, the more likely that you can present them with beneficial content, which may cause a ripple effect well beyond your original intended audience.