SOURCE: StrongMail Systems

StrongMail Systems

June 15, 2009 08:00 ET

New StrongMail Survey Shows Social Media Is Emerging as a Direct Marketing Channel

Email Marketing and Social Media Are Top Two Areas of Increased Investment for Marketers in Second Half of 2009

REDWOOD CITY, CA--(Marketwire - June 15, 2009) - StrongMail Systems, Inc., the leading provider of commercial-grade solutions for marketing and transactional email, today announced new survey data that points to the emergence of social media as a direct marketing channel and significant planned investment in email marketing and social media programs in the second half of 2009. StrongMail also announced a new framework to help direct marketers effectively leverage the two channels beyond the common "sharing" tools offered by other providers. The results and recommendations outlined in this announcement are based on data from more than 500 marketers who responded to an online survey from May 21 to June 1, 2009.

According to the survey, there is still a widespread land-grab for ownership of social media within the various facets of marketing, with 29% of respondents stating that responsibility is owned by multiple departments. However, social media appears to be emerging as a direct channel with 36% of survey respondents stating that the direct marketing department owns social media. Surprisingly, only 9% of the respondents report that social media is owned by public relations departments, suggesting that marketing teams value social media more for its demand generation potential than awareness building. A paltry 5% have a dedicated social media department.

The survey also revealed that social media is a hot initiative with email marketers, with 66% planning to integrate the two channels in 2009, and 48% who have already formulated a strategy for achieving this initiative. Funding is also exceptionally strong for both channels. Of marketers planning to increase budgets in 2009, 83% will increase spend in email marketing, followed by social media at 62%.

The increased focus and investment in social media underscores the importance of applying resources properly; however, there is still widespread confusion regarding how a social media strategy for email marketing should be implemented. 55% of respondents report that one of their biggest challenges with integrating social media and email marketing is determining metrics by which to measure success. At 48%, establishing business goals for the program is a close second.

Based on these findings, it's clear that social media has grown to the stage where it needs an owner and a purpose within marketing. StrongMail believes that the intrinsic interconnection between social media and email make it an ideal direct channel. Email continues to drive engagement in social networks by alerting members of new content and updates, and the ability to communicate relevant messages within social networks is critical to a business' success in the medium.

In order to help direct marketers integrate social media into their email marketing programs, StrongMail has developed a social media framework that consists of the following three core capabilities:

Social Share

Social Share enables direct marketers to increase list growth and acquire new, highly valuable targets by allowing email recipients to share branded email content across the most popular social networks, blogs and email. Marketers can leverage Social Share to provide targeted offers to their email list that ignite a natural sharing response, inspiring others to opt-in for additional special offers.

Social Direct

A natural extension of email marketing, Social Direct puts the marketer in control to send targeted and personalized messages to vibrant and fast-growing social communities. Direct marketers can leverage new email technologies to communicate directly to social networks on Facebook via messages, status updates or wall posts.

Social Programs

Social Programs enables direct marketers to create powerful direct-response programs that leverage social media as the next generation of forward-to-a-friend. Social Programs integrates email, the Web and social networks to create true viral marketing programs in which consumers spend their own "Social Capital" to drive your brand, helping marketers finally deliver on the vision of viral marketing.

StrongMail also offers a suite of strategic and creative services designed to complement these capabilities and help email marketers maximize the effectiveness of the social media channel, including rewarding advocates for evangelizing brands and programs, as well as identifying, targeting and leveraging those recipients most active within their social networks.

"This new survey data confirms direct marketers' intent to integrate email with social media, and our three-pronged framework will help ensure that they are able to capitalize on its full potential," said Ryan Deutsch, vice president of strategic services and market development. "Leveraging social media is a valuable tool for meeting direct marketing objectives, but, like any good direct marketing campaign, they need to be tied to metrics such as purchases, new customer acquisition or customer retention. The metrics should be in line with the business's overall direct marketing objectives."

Infographics

--  Direct Marketing Owns Social Media in Majority of Companies
--  Top Challenges for Launching an Integrated Social Media Program
--  66% Plan to Integrate Social Media and Email Marketing in 2H 2009
--  Email Marketing and Social Media are Two Top Areas of Investment in 2H
    2009
    

Related Webinar: Social Media Strategies for Email Marketing

Join StrongMail and PopularMedia on June 25 for an interactive webinar that demonstrates how StrongMail's social media framework can help direct marketers fully leverage this lucrative channel. Register today at: http://www.strongmail.com/company/news-and-events/webinars/social-media-strategies

Survey Methodology

The StrongMail "2009 Marketing Trends" survey was conducted online by Zoomerang on behalf of StrongMail Systems. The poll, which gathered feedback from over 500 marketing executives in a wide range of industries, was conducted from May 21 to June 1, 2009.

About StrongMail Systems, Inc.

StrongMail's marketing and transactional email solutions enable businesses to deliver more relevant, timely and cost-effective messages. StrongMail gives email marketers the control and support they need to improve campaign performance, boost deliverability and lower costs, while also providing IT with superior deliverability and reliability. Combining an easy-to-use email marketing application, high-performance delivery system, and a wide range of deliverability, strategic and supporting services, StrongMail makes it possible for companies with all levels of resources and expertise to take advantage of its proven solutions. Headquartered in Redwood City, CA, StrongMail's clients include global leaders across virtually every industry. To learn more about StrongMail, please visit www.strongmail.com.