Social Media: How to Deepen Participant Relationships

12 Tips to Build Your House File  (Because Email Converts!)

Build relationships Despite its engagement focus, social media can be a difficult environment in which to build deep, long-term customer relationships.

Most social media participants fall into the 90% join but lurk, 9% do something easy such as sharing where limited effort or investment is required and 1% are your advocates. As a result, it’s difficult to continue these relationships outside social media to generate yield profitable revenues. Therefore, build an email house file, which has a significantly higher conversion rate, to extend interactions and increase sales. 

At Affiliate Summit East, Hunter Boyle of email marketing firm AWeber provided an action packed session focused on building your house file. Here are twelve tips inspired by Boyle’s talk to build your house file and extend your social media engagement via email.

  1. Listen to what prospects want. Knowing your prospects and customers is critical. While you can develop a marketing persona and a social media persona, it’s better to ask prospects what their needs and problems are. Survey readers either online or in your responder email. Ask: ”What’s the biggest problem I can help you with right now?” Consolidate the answers into a spreadsheet to determine trends and use this information in planning your editorial calendar.
  2. Encourage registration with pop-ups and lightboxes. Despite being annoying, pop-ups and lightboxes significantly increase your ability to build your house email file. On his Awaken Your Inner Hero blog, Christopher Penn tested removing the pop-ups and found that his signups fell off significantly. AWeber found that pop-ups are most annoying when they appear in the first five seconds. When you add a pop-up or lightbox, test each element such as the call-to-action, logo and time to show to ensure it’s optimized for your audience. 
  3. Make it easy to find your registration form. Don’t bury your email signup form. Add a tab to your navigation for “Free updates.” This is useful on your blog as well as Facebook. Make it easy for people who want more of your content to sign up to receive it. Using this technique, Derek Halpern captured 2% of his blog traffic with a 20% conversion rate. This makes sense since these people are seeking you out. (Here are more Derek Halpern insights.)  Derek Halpern blog example
  4. Know that location, location, location, matters for email registrations. Place your email opt-in forms near content ideally in the upper right hand corner. Also take a page from traditional direct marketers and use more than one registration link or form in your content.
  5. Leverage social proof to encourage registrations. Like best seller lists, social proof shows that you’re blog or website is worth using. Where possible incorporate a combination of third party credentials like Top Ten Social Media Examiner Blogger or show that other people like it with quotes or reviews.
  6. Offer valuable content in the form of e-books for free. This is a popular marketing approach. It must add value to your target audience by solving their problems. Where appropriate, assign a value to the content so that prospects who register feel like they got quality information.
  7. Develop a free webinar series. This is similar to offering value information they want in another format. This can be useful for a series of lessons. The key is how the elements are packaged together since many firms offer webinars these days.
  8. Take the high road to guest blogging. Specifically, find guest blogs that put your bio/link prominently above the fold enabling you to maximize traffic back to your own site.
  9. Extend the value of your autoresponders. Instead of sending a plain vanilla email, use your confirmation or welcome email to get new registrants acclimated. Consider using tailored landing pages. The objective is to get registrants into your website and active while they’re still excited about your offering.
  10. Keep a swipe file. A swipe file is a folder where you keep examples of other people’s content such as emailings and blog posts that attract your attention. This can be your competitors, peers or other sites. The important aspect is that they include an idea you think you can spin differently for your market. The idea is to apply the concept to your marketing, not copy the content!
  11. Continue testing. To improve your results, schedule your tests. The biggest challenge is the time and money involved. (Note: A great resource for learning about testing is Which Test Won that provides weekly examples of tests.)
  12. Track your results. To understand what’s working, it’s critical to measure your efforts. Among the metrics to monitor are your delivery rate, open rate, click-through rate, conversion rate, opt-in rate, spam report rate and unsubscribe rate.

To build social media relationships and increase conversions, you need to extend your communications outside of social media. By building your email house file, you can provide value to your prospects and control the communications rather than wait for them to return your social media page or execution.

What other techniques have you used to extend your social media relationships by building your email house file?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit:

  • Handshake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sahajameditation/4625408407/
  • Hunter Boyle photo: Heidi Cohen
Note: Lightbox example added. 
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  • iancleary

    Great post and some great insights provided by Hunter. If I follow someone on twitter and they follow back and I believe we have something business related in comment.
    I ask for their e-mail via direct message and then continue the conversation over email. This means I can kick start the relationship. I’m not selling and I do everything possible to avoid selling at this stage. I’m just helping build the relationship through e-mail.

    • Heidi Cohen

      Ian–While your approach works well for people who are on Twitter, it doesn’t address the issue of building a house file that you own and can control. The point here is not only to extend the relationship which you’re doing but also to be able to communicate with people who are interested in your content without taking sharing actions. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

      • iancleary

        Got it!! Thanks for your feedback. I enjoy reading your posts. All the best, Ian

    • http://twitter.com/hunterboyle Hunter Boyle

      Thanks for the comment, Ian. While I’m not on Twitter 24/7, I can tell you that taking that extra step sets you apart from most people using that tool. I’m sure that’s a big help in developing relationships that go beyond the occasional tweet. Like that beer we’re going to have at CMW …? ;)

      Cheers — Hunter

      • iancleary

        I think it might be more than one!!! Looking forward to it.