A record number of email marketers are planning to bridge the gap between online social networks and their email marketing campaigns, and the number of social email initiatives is expected to grow 367% this year, according to new research from Ball State University, the Email Marketer’s Club and ExactTarget.
The collaborative study, which was designed to gauge marketers’ opinions and plans for integrating email marketing with social networks, surveyed 351 email marketers in March and found that while only 13% leveraged the power of online networks last year to grow their email subscriber list, more than 46% plan to use social media and email together in 2009.
Moreover, the research also found that 88% of those who said they used social media and email together in 2008 plan to continue using it this year.
Despite surging demand for and interest in the integration between social sites and email among marketers, the study also found that success with such integration remains largely uncharted. This, ExactTarget said, is because consumers remain reluctant to invite marketers into social environments because they don’t want to see the channel overrun with irrelevant commercial messages.
Staying relevant and understanding the target audience will be increasingly key to overcoming these challenges, ExactTarget said.
“While the global reach, rapid adoption and high engagement found in social media have email marketers salivating at the potential these environments offer to engage with customers and prospects, the real challenge is how best to facilitate meaningful interactions,” said Morgan Stewart, ExactTarget’s director of research and strategy.
Stewart suggests that marketers who are able to align their messaging and carefully build a quality following within social networks will potentially see positive results.
More information about the study is available in a whitepaper, “Expanding the Reach of Email Through Social Networks,” available from ExactTarget.