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Can Your Social Data Be Used to Develop Email Campaigns?

emaildata_blogA/B testing can be a nightmare. Especially with email programs.

The testing concept has to be determined, the content has to be built, the programs have to be developed within a marketing automation solution for each part of the test, the emails have to be proofed, the distribution has to be set, the emails have to be sent, and, finally, the analysis has to be made. It can be exhausting, and not always with the expected reward of understanding. The disparity between CTRs and open rates may be too minimal, the sample set may not be strong enough, the content may not be right…or a million other issues.

If you’re a community manager, there’s a good chance you’ve heard these complaints from your conversion manager or email marketing team. There’s also a good chance you do your own A/B testing with social content, and find similar pain points.

…So why aren’t you working together?

As a community manager, you have the ability – and the data – to conduct quick, easy A/B tests on Twitter, Facebook, or other networks that can help inform your email marketing team. It’s important to remember that people interact with social content differently than they do email, but you can still gain some crucial insight with a quicker turnaround time on social than your email team can.

How can you help? Here are some tips for telling A/B tests that your email marketing team can use:

A/B Test Subject Lines as Tweets:

A/B testing headlines for an email campaign can be grueling. It’s a big investment to create campaigns, send them to your audience, and then gauge their response in order to gain some insight for the next campaign…but on social, we get to be more agile. Help your email marketing team out. Work with them by A/B testing subject lines as Tweets. While the measurable actions against a Tweet (favorites, retweets, @replies) are different than they are against an email (opens and click-throughs), you can provide some quick analysis based on the disparity in response from one Tweet to the other.

Post options for subject lines as Tweets: Include links to related content. This is something we do regularly at Simply Measured. Take the below example of the exact same content shared with two different sets of copy:

Measure the response (both negative and positive): Then share learnings to your email team so they can make more informed choices. This may take more than one iteration as you hone in on the right subject lines to use. In the case above, we found that the second option performed better. There could be multiple reasons for this: using the personal pronoun of “your” resonated with people. The term “data” performs better than “stats”.  Google+ is more of a hot topic than LinkedIn. The sensational language in the first one was a turn-off. Whatever your findings or intuition, share with your email team. This should be a collaborative effort.

A/B Test Newsletter Content

If your team sends a regular email newsletter that includes content from your blog or website, you have a unique understanding of which content performs the best. Share that info.

Gather data on social visits to specific content: Google Analytics makes this easy and gives you a great understanding of which content drives the most value for your branded content.

Identify top performing posts by social shares: Which content are people willing to put their stamp on by sharing with friends? This is a sign that it’s engaging and will catch readers’ eyes when they see it in their inbox. Our conversion manager Nate and I do this on a weekly basis, analyzing which content generated the most interest organically on social during the prior week. This is a big part of our decision-making process when it comes to our weekly newsletter.

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Inform Send Times

There are a lot of resources out there that help an email marketer determine send times. But your audience is different than every other audience, and those benchmarks may not be specific enough. Use your social data to help identify the best time and day for your email team to send the newsletter. When is your audience online and engaging with content?

Pull the time and day data for engagement:  This can be done on any network, but the most telling will be Twitter and/or Facebook. First, take a broad look at how your audience is interacting overall.

Segment out the Tweets with links: This should help you get a better representation of when your audience is willing to engage with blog content. When are they engaging with linked content? This means they have time to read (or at least click through) to your posts or gated content. Use that info to your advantage.

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Challenge Intuition and Audience Interests

Your email marketing team has data based off previous sends, which is invaluable, but can also miss key components because those sends were informed by your own intuition. This is a blessing and a curse. Validate – or challenge – that intuition by analyzing your social audience. What are they interested in? Are there specific topics that they care about more than others? Are these reflected in your email campaigns?

  • Perform an audience analysis and look for key trends in their profiles, as well as their Tweets.
  • Perform a Klout analysis to identify what your audience members are considered experts about.
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Bear in mind as you do this that you’ll be able to provide qualitative insight that’s backed by quantitative data. There’s not an exact 1:1 relationship between social engagement and email engagement, but if your marketing programs are targeting correctly, the overlap should be significant.

What interesting ways do you leverage social data across your marketing team? Let us know in the comments!


Kevin Shively

I lead marketing for Simply Measured. Recovering journalist. My team is embarrassed of my hilarious jokes. Firm believer that the best marketers are the best storytellers and the best storytellers use the best data.

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