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Email and Social Media Form a Tighter Union in 2011

Making predictions at the start of a new year has become an American tradition. The marketing community has been busy at it! There have been plenty of articles, blog posts and tweets predicting what will happen in the marketing realm over the next 12 months.

I’ve noticed, though, that most of the prognostications have been on the future of social media. A word to the wise; don’t overlook the power of email marketing in 2011.

Yes, social media continues to gain momentum and is undergoing rapid adoption. But email remains the most dominant means of electronic communications and it will continue to be a critical marketing tool in 2011. Anyone who questions the value of email marketing need just consider Groupon’s $6 billion valuation, which is largely attributed to the company’s enormous opt-in email lists and associated CRM data.

What we will see in 2011 is a deeper integration of email and social media. Marketers will use social media to enhance their email campaigns to a greater degree than ever before.

The line between Email Service Providers (ESPs) and social media companies is starting to blur. ESPs are busy adding social media tools to their product lists. ESPs’ current offerings include Lyris’ Social Media Enhancer, Nutshell Mail from Constant Contact, Social Studio by StrongMail and Mail Chimp’s Social Sharing and SocialPro tools, to name a few.

So eager are ESPs to get a stronger foothold in this hot emerging media that some have bought social media companies. StrongMail now owns social media marketing tool provider PopularMedia, Constant Contact purchased social networking management tool Nutshell Mail and Exact Target acquired social media conversation management company Cotweet. Look for more M&A activity to come.

With all this going on, marketers are increasingly recognizing that email and social media should be complementary components of a single campaign. A recent study by StrongMail found that 71% of the companies surveyed have either already integrated their social media and email campaigns, or plan to do so in 2011. (Source: eMarketer)

With so much marketing noise coming at consumers, capturing and retaining buyers’ attention will only get harder in 2011. Marketers need to remember that social media should not be viewed as a standalone marketing method and email should not be relegated to yesterday’s news. The challenge and the fun for marketers will be to figure out how to effectively distribute compelling content across a combination of email and social media tools and services in such a way that it all works well together and gets the desired results.

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