April 23, 2013
Case Study

Social Email Integration: Sony Electronics nets 3,000 clickthroughs from email to

SUMMARY: Email and social media both have an important part to play in the conversation between company and consumer, and should be strategically, operationally and tactically aligned.

In this case study, read how Sony Electronics integrated Pinterest into its product sends. The resulting campaign from this integration won Gold in the Best Email Innovation category in MarketingSherpa’s Email Marketing Awards 2013.
by Courtney Eckerle, Reporter


The challenge facing the email team at Sony Electronics was to find a way to build engagement in their sends to further the overarching goal of encouraging customers to buy their products.

The answer came in the form of Sony's recently launched Pinterest page. While email and social media marketers may normally stay separate on many projects, this one would be a great benefit to both teams.

Since the Pinterest page was newly rolled out, the social media team happened to need a platform to build awareness and attract followers.

For the email team, leveraging social content from Pinterest in the email sends was the opportunity they needed to drive engagement.

Reaching out to email subscribers through integrating social media into email content allowed for Sony to drive conversion, as well as customer conversation, by utilizing Pinterest's uniquely visual platform as a showcase for products.

The campaign the team at Sony would create went on to win Gold in the Best Email Innovation category in MarketingSherpa's Email Marketing Awards 2013. Let's take a look at the campaign …


Afsaneh Jahangiri, Senior Marketing Specialist, Sony Electronics, said there were a few goals from social media and email integration her team was hoping to meet.

"First of all, we wanted to make sure our email subscribers were aware of the new, highly visual social media site … and also we wanted to let them know of Sony's brand's presence on Pinterest," she said.

Jahangiri said her team also saw it as a unique opportunity to "drive deeper engagement over our integration of email and social media channels," and build a base of brand advocates.

Driving engagement through integration of email and social media channels has recently been a "key focus" for 'Sony, she said. Although it had been lighter in the past than in this campaign, which Jahangiri saw a "great opportunity" for a full-scale integration effort.

The campaign kicked off with a Pinterest dedicated email to Sony subscribers to promote the boards, as well as educating subscribers who might not be familiar with Pinterest, and grew to include product-based sends as well as including Sony's e-commerce site.

Step #1. Send a dedicated email about brand pages on the social network

The integration campaign kicked off in May 2012 with a dedicated Pinterest email to Sony subscribers, according to Jahangiri. The subject line for the send read, "Let Our Pinterest Page Spark Your Imagination — Follow Us and Start Pinning."

"We wanted to introduce Pinterest to our subscribers, we wanted to let them know that Sony is now on Pinterest, and we wanted to acquire new followers," she said.

Another goal of the send was educating customers who might not have been familiar with the platform, and encouraging subscribers to begin interacting and pinning their favorite products.

The email opens with the greeting "Pin. Collect. Share." and has a short paragraph describing the service as "a site where you can create online pinboards and share photos and videos from anywhere — including places like Sony.com and Sony emails."

The email then suggests subscribers follow "these popular Sony boards" which includes one displaying Sony cameras and photography, "Behind the Lens," as well as a sale items board, and even a board featuring "Old School Sony Ads."

The very bottom of the email features individual pins with the headline, "The buzz — see cool images being pinned from our boards," with the ability to immediately begin pinning those images with the "Pin it" button.

Step #2. Re-send email to non-openers

Two weeks after the Pinterest-dedicated email was sent out, a re-send of the same email to those subscribers who had not opened it the first time around.

Sony "typically does re-sends on key campaigns … to people who didn't open it," according to Jahangiri.

The time frame of two weeks after the first send was chosen because her team prefers to take the time after deploying an email to view the results and engagement, and then strategize on opportunities from there.

"The success was really overwhelming. We've found that featuring Pinterest persistently showed increased engagement, which is really big for us. It also helped develop brand advocates and drive revenue as well," she said.

The re-send was done to ensure subscribers who may have missed the first send would have another chance to engage with Sony's Pinterest page, and increase the positive results that Jahangiri's team saw from the first send.

The re-send drove 15% increase in subscriber growth, as well as contributing to a "significant jump in followers."

Step #3. Include social media sharing in email sends about products

After such positive results, Jahangiri's team decided to integrate Pinterest into some of their product launch emails, as well as in trigger sends to consumers who had just purchased a product.

The first opportunity to integrate Pinterest in a product-focused email was in Sony’s VAIO summer line-up product launch.

Waiting to include the Pin it button in product emails was a deliberate strategy, Jahangiri said, because Pinterest was "so new … we didn't want to include the Pin it buttons in emails prior to doing a big campaign to focus on Pinterest and tell the story of what Pinterest as a channel is."

She said they decided to use the Pin it button in their VAIO summer product send first because "we were promoting a new product and we thought it was the perfect opportunity."

Because of the high-interest by subscribers in their product launches, this send was also chosen so customers who opened up the email and were excited about the new Sony VAIO product could immediately pin and share.

Following that, she said her team has started including the Pin it buttons in three to four dedicated sends a month — about a third of their total sends.

They included the buttons based on campaign type, typically including it in sends where Jahangiri and her team want to foster a conversation with subscribers.

"When we feature products, and we're really allowed room to talk about the product, then typically we feature the Pin-it button," she said.

It was also decided to include the Pin it buttons in post-purchase triggered emails, with a large picture of the product purchased next to the button so, "customers of a new product can pin it to their boards, and brag about their new product," Jahangiri said.

The overall result of integrating Pinterest into their product-related email sends has been positive, she added, both for her email team and Sony’s social media team.

"'Pinnable' emails result in increased pinning activity for the product featured," she said. "It's really a way to inspire the community to evangelize our product, and it helps the email teams to reach a broader audience outside of the email channel."

Step #4. Show off products with the greatest social buzz

With the positive results they were seeing from the inclusion of Pinterest, Jahangiri and her team found a new way to include social content in their sends, and further encourage subscribers to become brand advocates.

They began including a Pinterest banner in monthly sends, including the top-pinned items from the website over the past month.

They decided to bring in this focus after Sony's e-commerce site started including the Pin it buttons next to products. After viewing the metrics, she said her team thought it would be "a good strategy to try to integrate the pins from the website into the emails and do a summary of the most pinned items of the month."

Jahangiri said this drove a lot of engagement, and resulted in many users clicking back to product pages on the website. Her team decided to continue on a monthly basis, and the banner drives around 2,900 visits to the e-commerce site each month.


"I think the modern path to purchase, these days, it is really across devices and across platforms. I realize that although our primary goal for our email channel is to drive sales … engagement is key," Jahangiri said.

Emails cannot always be expected to immediately drive a sale, she added, and sometimes "a customer needs a little bit more time — so it's great to have a place to point to where they can engage with our products, they can share with their followers and really talk about our product and look at them from a different perspective."

Dedicated Pinterest send

  • Open rate 67% above goal set for this send*

  • Clickthrough rate 16% above the goal set for this send

Resend email

  • 15% subscriber growth

VAIO summer line-up product launch

  • 3,000 clickthroughs to "pin"

  • Produced 172% of the "revenue per delivered email" goal

Triggered email send

  • 70% average open rate post-Pinterest integration

  • 18% average clickthrough rate

Most-pinned banner

  • Drives more than 2,900 visits to Sony's e-commerce website each month

  • Over 2% of all clickthroughs are to pin products

*Goals are set based on a combination of past performance and anticipated results, based on adjustments made through email optimization. There are different goals based on the type of email being sent.

"In the future, I want to experiment with more ways to drive pinning activity and also acquiring new followers using email," Jahangiri said, adding she will be partnering with Sony's social media team for a future integration.

Mainly, the goal going forward will be to give Sony Electronics pinners the "opportunity to sign up for emails without leaving the Pinterest environment."

Creative Samples

  1. Sony's Pinterest page

  2. Sony's dedicated Pinterest send

  3. VAIO summer product launch send

  4. Post-purchase triggered email

  5. Pinterest banner

  6. Sony’s e-commerce site


Sony Electronics

The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks — Sony's vendor

Related Resources

MarketingSherpa's Email Marketing Awards 2013, Free Awards Report — sponsored by Responsys

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013 Wrap-up: Top 5 takeaways for email marketers

Email Marketing: Only 21% of marketers integrating mobile with email

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013: Social media is email with fresh paint

Social Media Marketing: Social login or traditional website registration?

Email Plus Facebook Marketing: Fresh ideas from FreshPair

Growing Email Lists with Social Media: KFC's Facebook tool adds subscribers

Mining Gold through Email Integration: 3 lessons from MarketingSherpa Email Awards 2013 winners

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