This post is by Jeff Judge, co-founder and CEO of Signal, a Chicago-based company that offers businesses a simple product that unifies e-mail, mobile and social marketing in a single platform. Recently named #108 on the 2011 Inc. 500 List, you can get more insights from Signal on Twitter, Facebook and on their blog.
In a world with more than 800 million Facebook users and more than 200 million new tweets per day, few doubt social media’s importance in building customer relationships. Less recognized, however, is the tremendous opportunity that social media presents to help you build your e-mail and SMS subscriber lists and forge even stronger bonds with your best customers.
As people who have clearly expressed an interest in your company, your social media followers are an ideal audience for your cross-channel marketing efforts. By getting them to join your e-mail and SMS lists, you will be able to give your biggest advocates offers that are more personalized, when and how they prefer to receive them.
How can you use social media to successfully grow your SMS and e-mail lists? We’ve seen these approaches work well for our clients:
- Drive people to a Web form on Facebook or Twitter. Adding a Web form as a tab on your Facebook account or sending a tweet with a link to your form on Twitter is a simple yet powerful way to introduce fans and followers to your subscription list. A common mistake people make is assuming that gaining someone as a fan or follower on a social network is akin to having them opted-in to your subscription list … it’s not. Facebook communications, for example, lack precise segmentation and if your content isn’t consistently compelling to your fans, it can result in a low EdgeRank and your posts may not even be displaying in fans’ News Feeds. By adding that fan to your subscription list, you can deepen the relationship by sending personalized and targeted content via e-mail or SMS. With SMS, you can be confident your customers will open and read your messages, as 83% of all text messages are read in the first hour of receipt.
- Encourage people to text to receive a coupon or offer. Offering incentives for opting-in is a good way to spur your list’s growth. This is probably the most successful tactic employed by Signal customers to encourage list participation. Culver’s, a Midwestern fast-food chain offers new subscribers a free value meal for joining its eClub on Facebook and a free scoop of frozen custard for joining its Text Club. The movie and game rental company Redbox has had success doing this by offering customers a free rental in return for joining its list.
- Run a sweepstakes or other social promotion. The second most popular list-growth tactic is using social promotions to drive subscriptions. Sweepstakes, voting contests or trivia campaigns both engage your followers while also allowing you to add them to your e-mail or SMS lists as the price of entry. Signal customer Memphis Car Audio recently ran a social sweepstakes tied to e-mail collection. By offering a trip for two to the Brazil premiere of the movie “Fast Five,” the company successfully reinforced its brand, drove in-store traffic and added more than 93,000 subscribers to its e-mail list.
- Offer referral bonuses. A common tactic used by your favorite daily deals site, rewards for referrals, can be a powerful tool for leveraging social media to accelerate list growth. Ask all new subscribers to refer their friends to also join and give them the option to do so via Facebook and Twitter, right from the confirmation page they get after signing up via your Web form. You can give each friend an offer or coupon for joining, and give the referrer a special offer of even greater value if they refer a specified number of friends.
Gathering the mobile, e-mail and social information of your best customers will allow you to construct a universal profile of them. Managing this information over a single platform, you can get a clearer picture of their communication preferences, profiles and buying habits than you previously thought possible. For instance, you may learn that some of your customers prefer receiving information about your brand solely via social media, while others respond better to a morning e-mail or a timely text message.
Learning more about your customers will enable you to offer the kind of highly targeted deals that create brand loyalty and repeat business. And getting your social followers to join your e-mail and SMS lists is a great place to start.