by Denise Cooper

Recently a colleague in the hospitality industry asked for my thoughts on integrating social and email. While I generally took for granted that most hotels were doing this already, additional research proved that was not the case.

Given the myriad definitions in the industry of what it means to integrate social media into current email platforms/strategies/tools, I thought the most useful approach would be to offer a few basic ideas and tactics.

Social Content Sharing: First and foremost the ability to share the content of an email in a multitude of different ways not only via traditional "forward to a friend" technology, but more importantly sharing this content across social media platforms is pivotal. The ability to tweet hotel deal offers from an email or share the entire email in this fashion creates ways for the email to gain broader exposure. Consider also a visual sharing opportunity of the deal on Pinterest for example. Calls to action can help here: simply ask the recipients to share the email and they will reward you with an action. Additional thought should go into creating the original email assets surrounding such a deal as the associated photo and commentary should be social friendly and conversational.

Social Linking: Although very basic, many hotels still fail to do this. Simply and consistently linking the email to the hotel's social media pages in either the header or footer is a best practice. This may include providing incentives to "like" or "follow" the hotel's/brand's page.

Build the Database: Database acquisition through social integration with email offers almost endless possibilities. Consider as each email or offer within an email is shared on social channels, the opportunity is always there to provide an email signup and even incent the individual to keep the word of mouth going. Share with a friend and accumulate points or share with 10 friends and get 50% off a night's stay are examples.

Newsletter Signup Across Social Channels: And even more fundamentally, make certain all social channels offer the chance to sign up for the hotel newsletter or specials and packages notifications. Create a direct feed from social app to your email database.

Email Segmentation: Database mining creates an opportunity to review which of your email recipients tends to share your email content most frequently. Segmenting your database in this way can be very valuable in demonstrating the "influencers" in your list. Purposely marketing to this group and offering incentives to them can prove highly productive. Additional perspective can be had by data mining Facebook Insights. Understand audience trends and offer promotions and information that appear to be meaningful to this audience. Send to active Facebook users. In addition through Facebook advertising, capture "like audiences" and feed them to an email signup form, gaining more qualified prospects.

Social Listening: By tapping into social listening tools and posting different themes daily, engagement can be monitored and email offers/information can be created from this testing.

Social Campaigns Supported By Email: Campaign management is another perfect opportunity to use the powerful synergy between email marketing and social media. Launching a social media campaign, which integrates supportive emails to existing and prospective database subscribers can and will extend the reach of the social campaign.

Social Enabled eCRM: eCRM offers additional ways of integrating social. Consider offering a link to the property's Facebook app on a pre-stay or on-property email. The app might list all local "off the beaten path" tips and tricks once they arrive at the hotel and could offer ways to make reservations or connect with restaurants, events and activities in the area. Reservation confirmations and really all eCRM communication should include the opportunity to connect with the property on the main social channels.

Socially Shared Feedback: Email can also be used from a post stay or post experience perspective suggesting the guest provide a review of the experience on their favorite social media channels.

There are dozens of ways to integrate social media and email. These are just a few of the most basic ideas.

About Denise Cooper

Denise leads the GCommerce marketing team with more than 30 years of experience in marketing and sales. As the creators of the GCommerce Innovation Lab, Denise and her team are constantly testing new marketing strategies and techniques to create incremental revenue for hotel and travel industry clients. Denise's focus includes strategic marketing, social media, online media buys, reputation management and mobile strategies.

Contact: Denise Cooper, VP Marketing

dcooper@gcommercesolutions.com / 435.214.5133

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