Silverpop have just announced something pretty monumental for the email marketing industry: they're the first major ESP to bring the next big thing in today's marketing environment to the email marketing space – email marketing is going social.
It was only a matter of time that email marketing and social media would collide (I've been racking my brains for the last few months trying to find a way to marry the two) and kudos to Silverpop for bringing their version to market first.
Disclaimer: I’m no tech journalist or product reviewer, but I think this is big, great news - hence my quick breakdown of what their offering is and what, in my opinion, it means to email marketers. If you have an opinion or thought, don't hesitate to leave a comment.
A quick analysis
Called 'share-to-social', Silverpop's offering allows email marketers to include an 'Addthis'-style button to any outgoing email campaign sent using their platform. The addition of the button allows recipients to share their personalized email message with friends on the social network of their choice (although from what I can see, Facebook and MySpace update: and Digg are the only supported networks so far).
Once posted, any dynamic content in the original recipient’s email is kept intact after posting to a social page. An example (as per Silverpop) is that a geographically-segmented, personalized email announcing a Golf sale in Tucson would retain its dynamic attributes once posted to a social networking site. The same applies for a recipient of the same email in San Diego, whose content was targeted to them via email segmentation. Once they post the email content to their own social networking page, others will be able to see the sale details and attend the sale in San Diego. While from a marketer’s standpoint this functionality almost writes its own copy, it seems to assume that most ‘friends’ in a social network are local. As anyone who uses Facebook (or MySpace) will attest, most friends are far from local, effectively nullifying this functionality. However, it’s better to have it than not have it.
Regarding tracking, it seems Silverpop have really nailed it here. All posted campaigns contain a unique tracking code, allowing the original sender to not only report on which social network their message was posted on and how many clicks that network generated for future use, but also which recipients were responsible for future viral activity. This advanced tracking allows the email marketer to segment future lists and target content specific to the most (or least) active social networkers as they see fit. Furthermore, this same unique URL can be used to track conversions originating from those social sites, allowing the marketer to gauge which networks drove the most interest, interaction and conversion. As Silverpop put it:
One of the most powerful benefits of Silverpop’s Share-to-Social feature is its ability to pinpoint which recipients share your message on their social network and cause it to go viral. You’ll be able to quickly build list segments targeting recipients who post your message or who generate the most opens or clicks from their shared items. For the first time, you’ll be able to understand which recipients are your most influential and ardent evangelists. With a few clicks, you’ll be able to target those individuals with specific offers and content that rewards them for their efforts or encourages them to share new content.
What does this mean for email marketers?
Silverpop have addressed something that needed attention – as I said it was always coming, it was just a question of who did it first.
Social networks are on the rise. As I’ve stated in a previous article, just visit this page by Ignite Social Media and scroll down quickly. The overall prominence of left-to-right climbing is clear. They’re here to stay; humans are innately gregarious and socializing is in our blood.
What’s more, email marketing and social networks have always had a steady relationship. Email is not only the vehicle of choice for all communication between a social network and a new member, it also facilitates intra-network messaging and retention. While these methods aren’t always email marketing per se, they reflect the importance of email as a tool that compliments social networks and media. Effectively, Silverpop’s new offering inverses that relationship, making email the primary tool to engage and leverage the power of social networks.
It might be too early to tell, but it looks like Silverpop have hit a goldmine here. I’d assume they’ll start to roll out more social sites as their technology permits, and would be more than happy if they considered productizing this functionality as a standalone offering, complete with en suite reporting. They’d stand to make a whole lot more than restricting it for use on their platform alone, but we’ll see! If you know of anyone who has used it, or have creative related to it, post it here!