3 Things Email Marketers Can Learn from Social Media Week

The following guest post was written by Leah Kovach. Leah is on the demand generation team at Movable Ink.

Last week, I attended Social Media Week here in New York City. While the event was clearly focused on social media, many of the key points and ideas articulated have applications to the email marketing world. Here’s what the experts in social are saying:

Embrace platforms as they are

Several presentations addressed a question that comes to many marketers minds—whether it’s better to distribute the same piece of content on multiple channels or take the time to optimize content for each channel. While every brand is different, the general consensus at the event was that content optimized for the channel tends to perform better. For those working in social media, this makes sense, as each platform is completely different (both technically and as far as audience is concerned). But how does this idea relate to email?

I see it as a reminder that email doesn’t have to be just images and links; people can have phenomenal experiences without leaving their inbox. Technological developments (hint hint – like Movable Ink) have enabled email marketers to inject live polls, social feeds, video, web content, countdown timers, and more into their emails.

Additionally, schema.org markeup allows for further innovation in the inbox. Consumers can track packages, add songs to playlists, review flight information/restaurant reservations, and more. All in all, the inbox is a great place to be.

Trying to understand millennials is hard for everyone

Every presentation at the conference referenced millennial behavior at some point or another. The best point of the day came from Philippe von Borries, co-founder and CEO of Refinery 29. He noted that while the millennial generation shares certain features, they’re incredibly difficult to define because there are literally hundreds of millions of them. Trying to make a group that large fit one mold is impossible. Rather, people should focus on what millennials do have in common: their method of thinking. Millennials want to find purpose and meaning in life, have an aversion to traditional hierarchies, and value inclusivity. Von Borries argued that these values are rapidly spreading throughout the world and to all areas of life (social, political, etc) and are how we should think about the millennial generation.

So – let’s stop discussing millennial email behavior. Anyone born between 1980-2000 can be a ‘millennial’, meaning that your data contains people 16-36 years old. The life changes and events that happen to those ages are so incredibly different (prom vs attending college vs starting a family). If you can, break down your data by age even further, or start looking at different markers of success.

Stay on-brand and be yourself

The final takeaway is something you’ve heard before: stay on-brand and be yourself. Although I just argued above that millennials are hard to define as a group, one thing does unite them: their ability to spot a fake.

Millennials are experts at building up their personal brands (think: influencer marketing). Because of this, they’re also good at spotting fake, cheesy, and overly promotional messaging, which happens in both social media and email. So many inboxes are clogged with emails that are trying too hard and/or are overly promotional – the best emails don’t feel forced.