5 Social E-Mail Trends to Watch
Social e-mail sharing, where recipients share noteworthy e-mails with their friends on social networks such as Facebook and MySpace or spread them via Twitter, is the new frontier for today's e-mail marketers.
But as promising as it is, social sharing remains uncharted territory to marketers who want to break new trails but don't know what to expect beyond the next mountain range.
Silverpop last year published a study of e-mail social sharing practices earlier this year called "E-Mails Gone Viral: Measuring 'Share to Social' Performance." Here are some key findings from the study:
1. Share-to-social extends reach.
Using actual numbers from study subjects and an average of 100 friends in a user's social network, social sharing delivered an average 24.3 percent increase in reach. On top of that, the shared messages generated, on average, an additional 1 percent of opens.
2. Facebook rules, but …
All the e-mail messages studied included a link to share them on Facebook, and that social site along with MySpace and Twitter accounted for the majority of messages shared to networks. Links shared to Bebo, Delicious and LinkedIn, however, actually drew a higher percentage of clicks.
3. Brands in subject lines tend to beat offers.
While specific creative elements didn't seem to factor heavily into an e-mail's "shareworthiness," the study found that the e-mails most frequently shared were more likely to feature brands or product names in the subject line rather than specific offers.
4. Sharing activity lasts about one week.
As with e-mail in the inbox, the majority of opens and clicks of shared e-mails occur in the first couple of days following posting on a social site. On average, the last click on shared e-mail messages occurs about seven days after the initial share, with activity ranging from one day to 44 days.
5. New benchmarks measure e-mail social activity.
The study created a set of new measurements specifically for measuring share-to-social activity. Definitions and results for this study include the following:
- Social e-mail click rate. This refers to the additional clicks on shared links per delivered e-mail message. For the study, the social e-mail click rate was 0.5 percent overall, ranging from less than 0.1 percent to 38.7 percent.
- Social e-mail view rate. This refers to how many additional people viewed a message after it was posted on a social network. The study's social e-mail view rate averaged 1 percent, with 3.9 percent for the top 25 percent of performers.
- Social network effectiveness rate. This refers to how well a social network drives additional views. Facebook was far and away the top performer, with an average of 68 percent. This means that, on average, 68 percent of share-link clicks resulted in e-mails being viewed from a post on Facebook. Twitter (5 percent) and MySpace (4.6 percent) were a distant second and third.
Takeaways and best practices
Simply dropping a Facebook or Twitter link into your e-mail messages isn't enough to get your recipients to share them on their social networks. After all, 35 percent of the e-mail messages analyzed for this study generated no clicks on social-sharing links. Social sharing takes effort. To be successful, consider the following best practices:
- Educate your readers. Explain how the sharing process works and why recipients would want to pass your messages along.
- Reward your persuaders. Track which subscribers share most frequently. Reward them with offers, inside information or other special treatment.
- Design for sharing. Group all your viral features to capture both social networkers and e-mail forwarders. Don’t overlook any opportunity to go viral. Designate certain messages to focus specifically on social sharing and list building. Design e-mails from the subject line to the offer to copy and sharing link placement to encourage sharing, particularly from your most influential sharers.
Loren McDonald is the vice president of industry relations for Silverpop, an Atlanta-based provider of engagement marketing tools. Reach Loren at email@example.com.