Practical Ecommerce

10 Tips for Integrating Email and Social Media

Is social media diluting email marketing?

For many ecommerce merchants, email marketing remains a staple. In a recent interview with Practical eCommerce, Listrak CEO Ross Kramer said, “We just came back from Etail [trade show] this week, and from the retailers that I was talking to up there, email is driving 20 to 25 percent of their overall revenue.” Kramer went on to say that only about 1 percent of overall orders was driven from social. Listrak, to be clear, is an email marketing provider.

But the debate should not be email or social media. It should be email and social media. In this article, I will discuss the benefits of integrating social media and email. Here are ten practical ideas for making that happen.

1. Email Can Drive Traffic to Blog Content

Email and blogs are digital companions. Blogs can become the content source for email newsletters and, conversely, email can call attention to blog posts.

2. Social Media Can Be an Amplifier

Many email-sending platforms now include social bookmarking and sharing options. For example, popular email platform Constant Contact allows users to place a social sharing “toolbar” at the top of the newsletter template that enables subscribers to Like, tweet and bookmark email content. Some platforms will even tweet a link to a web-based version of the email to Twitter followers once it is published.

3. Conversations Can Lead to Conversions

Social media is a conversational medium, but it can also serve to enhance conversions, such as email subscriptions. Promotional posts that encourage subscriptions are not inappropriate so long as they are used only occasionally — and in the proper context.

Consider Facebook, for example. Not only can conversations that lead to conversions take place on a business Fan page wall, but tabs can be set up that are dedicated to email subscriptions. “Fangating” techniques can also be implemented that require subscriptions before being able to access special offers, discount coupons or ebook downloads, for example.

4. Social Media Can Fill the Gap

Most small businesses only send email marketing messages periodically — such as monthly newsletters or occasional special offers. By providing more frequent updates — Facebook status updates, tweets and blog posts — social media can fill those gaps and help keep a brand top-of-mind with consumers.

5. Social Media is an Email Alternative

People like to have options and not everyone likes email. Therefore, social media can serve as a viable alternative for those who would prefer to receive information by other means.

6. Social Networks Rely on Email

Social networks rely on email to notify users of transactions. Whether comments to Facebook status updates, new Twitter followers, or conversation threads on LinkedIn discussions groups, email is the reliable option to notify social network users.

7. Email is an Accepted Promotional Channel

While the focus of social media is conversational, quite the opposite is true of email. It is widely accepted as a promotional channel. Email drives conversions, while social media engenders greater loyalty among existing customers.

8. Email Has Permanence

Social media is “just in time” marketing. Its nature is real-time, a stream of consciousness. Therefore, it works well when information needs to be shared quickly. The downside is that it is also transient. A tweet sent now is forgotten in an hour. Email, on the other hand, has greater stability. Email messages can be archived for a more lasting effect.

9. Email and Social Media Can Be Personal

Depending on the number of fields contained in an email subscriber list — name, address, company — messages can be personalized to appear more relevant to the subscriber. Social media is inherently personal. In email, personalization comes by means of a database. In social, it comes by virtue of person-to-person interactions.

10. Social Media is Another Touchpoint

Used in an integrated fashion, social media is one touchpoint along a continuum of customer connection and interaction that also includes email. The two can work in tandem along with other forms of marketing and advertising.


Email and social media are not adversaries. Both can build brand awareness, retain customer loyalty, gain new subscribers and generate more sales.

Paul Chaney

Paul Chaney

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Comments ( 2 )

  1. Jal2372 August 27, 2011 Reply

    Hi Thank you for this info. You are right it should not be one or the other but how to implement them.

  2. Monica Sims August 30, 2011 Reply

    Great post, Paul. Totally agree that social and email need to be combined to be most effective.

    Two things I would add…
    1) Do special promotions/offers that are exclusive to social media channels. This way you encourage people to follow you on those channels but you also make it worth their while to do so.

    2) On tip #4 above, I would also mention that if you are sending out a monthly newsletter, Social Media can even out your traffic over the month. It can help you avoid those peaks and valleys and instead keep your traffic at an even pace through out the month.

    Finally, iContact has a full integration of social media into emails. Customers can easily add social share buttons throughout the email. You can read more about it here: