The decision to integrate email and social media strategies is a no-brainer.

The true essence of digital marketing lies in the fact that it isn’t a standalone domain, function or platform. It’s more like the sum of different components that each has its rightful place in the overall plan of action.

Social and email have their own set of evangelists. Most tout the legendary 4300% ROI figure as definitive proof of email’s superiority. Econsultancy’s Email Marketing Industry Census has found that companies have consistently attributed around 20% of their total sales to email marketing over the past three years. Further, a quarter of all respondents rate its ability to provide ROI as “Excellent.”

The proponents of social, on the other hand, love to focus on the fact that almost 52% of adults use multiple social media channels and bring up ease of maintaining omni-channel presence as a game changer.

While the rest of the internet is bickering, let us take a step back and review why the question of ‘Social vs. Email’ is redundant.

Interactions on social media are more informal and accelerated. There is a definite sense of connecting in real time! Each platform or social network also has its own unique purpose and user base. Facebook is the mecca of keeping in touch with friends and family. Twitter is the fast track to influencer interactions. Pinterest is good for e-commerce businesses with a variety of products and Instagram caters to the shutterbugs in businesses and buyers.

Email on the other hand is universally appealing. It is consumers’ most preferred medium of communication. In fact according to a study by MarketingSherpa, it is the only digital channel that outperforms traditional avenues like postal mail and television ads. Email isn’t as responsive as social but the probability of hooking targets from all sections of the market irrespective of social preferences is high and distractions are limited.

1. The Rationale for Social-Email Integration

At their core, email and social can be likened to each other. Way back in 2011 Jay Baer published a killer Slideshare that offers a unique twist to the social-email question. Over the course of 27 slides, Baer proved that integrating social and email is not only desirable but also easy because the performance of content on both avenues can be judged through very similar metrics (which makes the marketers’ jobs a breeze). According to Baer,

  • Email Subscribes = Social Media Likes/Follows
  • Email Unsubscribes = Social Media Un-likes/Unfollows
  • Email Opens = Social Media Impressions/Views
  • Email Link Clicks = Social Link Clicks
  • Email Forwards = Social Shares/Re-pins/Retweets

A classic win-win situation! It just makes sense to augment the interactivity of social with email campaigns and introduce more excitement into inboxes by taking the conversation to the social sphere. What’s not to like about that?

Eric Krattenstein, CMO of email marketing software Mailify rightly pointed out the how social media lent credibility to a brand when he talked to Natasha D Smith of Direct Marketing News. “People like to go online and see (if) brands are active on social media. It tells the customers that they’re being heard, and that they can get a response in real time,” Krattenstein said.

65% of the top B2B marketers in social media lead generation have already integrated social with email. That should say something about the viability of the move and its ultimate payoff! It is likely that you already practice social-email integration to some degree:

  • Placing social media buttons in email footers, encouraging readers to check out Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social pages for accelerated and more personal interactions.
  • Encouraging fans and social peeps to sign up for email updates or newsletters through strategically placed CTA buttons on network-specific posts.
  • Inviting VIP buyers to join exclusive groups on social for more value delivered through real time interactions.

So here are four strategic moves that you may not be making. Or need to tweak in order to optimise the usefulness of the integration.

2. Using Email Subscriber Lists on Social

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter all allow you to upload .csv files of your email subscriber lists so that these individuals can be targeted on social platforms as well. The ultimate goal of social and email integration is to create a user base common to both media.

And this is the easiest way to go about doing it. Once the lists are in the system, the email addresses are matched with the addresses of account holders to create an audience of existing buyers and prospects who can be then seeded with relevant offers, invitations to follow pages, and more.

The following retargeting ad from Expedia is a great example of the practice. It follows up an email query about room availability at the Whistler Hotel with a very timely Facebook reminder that makes use of urgency as a persuasion switch.


Facebook in particular allows you to squeeze more from your email lists on social with Lookalike Audiences. This option helps you target prospects who have similar interests and preferences to the people on email lists that you’ve already uploaded to the system. Once you identify who they are you can request these individuals to come like your page or ask them to sign up to your email list for a freebie.

The key to cracking this is to use your email marketing software to create multiple email lists segmented by factors (such as previous purchase behaviour, geolocation, age of relationship, stage in drip funnel, etc.) that are critical to that particular campaign. The more narrowly you target these audiences, the more likely they are to act in your favour. Most email marketing tools give you the power to export CSV lists of your subscribers with little effort, making retargeting them on social a no-hassle, low-cost and effective cross-channel tactic.

3. Direct Email Sharing and Social Pitching

Make it easy for your readers to share your emails on their social platforms through direct sharing methods. Make sure that you spell out the difference between the buttons encouraging them to join your social tribe and those asking them to share the content of the email on their streams and walls. You never know when it could be a touch too confusing.

You could try and pull a Chris Brogan and by pitching the privileges of signing up for your newsletter on your social accounts.


The Segue Move

This is a quick and simple tactic that has high returns. In music, segue is a directive to the performer to make a transition from the current section to the next without a break. With that in mind, look at this email:


The idea is to open a contest using email (where you have your readers’ full attention) and then execute it on a social platform (which is by nature distracting) of your choosing. The transition is smooth and seamless. Subscribers who are not a part of your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram community can be subtly encouraged (not required) to follow or like your page and then interact with a post in order to qualify for the prize.

Based on the results of your segue campaign, you can further segment your CRM database to separate socially active subscribers from those who are more email focused and then try to find platform-specific opportunities to interact with the former.

4. Bringing Social to Email and Email to Social

Nothing integrates email and social like optimal leverage and cross-posting of content. You can use images or video clips from Instagram or Vine in your emails and entice subscribers to cross the divide and enter your social realm for more timely updates. Another option is to embed social media feeds into your emails a la National Geographic to encourage subscribers to engage and participate in conversations right from their inbox.


Conversely, you can post your emails (or snippets of content from them) as status updates on your social networks, expanding the reach of your email content and giving more incentive to your followers to sign up for exclusive updates. For instance, you could set up Pinterest boards with screenshots from newsletters and a link to your sign up page.

Over to You

Once you understand the basic premise of the social-email integration, you can innovate your way to success with custom strategies that utilise your business strengths to the fullest. Make no mistake – both email and social help you reach and win customers; even if they’re apples and oranges to each other as communication media, they serve the same basic purpose. Incorporating both these channels into right online marketing strategy can help your business get more transactions and conversions.

Ultimately, the goal is to get as close as possible to the customer and nudge them along the sales funnel. Just be yourself and remember that the bottom line is to consolidate your omni-channel presence in a way that your content delivers maximum value to your audience.

Tracy Vides
Tracy Vides

Tracy Vides is a writer, researcher and content strategist, who firmly believes in the power of communication, collaboration and social media to leverage small business! She is an avid blogger with posts featured on Steamfeed, Sprout Content, She Owns It and elsewhere. Catch her on Twitter @TracyVides.