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  • Using social sharing to increase e-mail marketing results

    Jul 29, 2014 by Alan J. Goldstein | No Comments Yet

    E-mail and postal are probably the two best methods of reaching out to highly targeted prospects, but it’s a real challenge to generate response rates that are high enough to make a difference.

    By making it easy for recipients to share your content via social sites such as Twitter and LinkedIN, you just might increase your readership, with the implicit stamp of approval that comes from a trusted third party recommendation. According to a recent study, e-mail with social sharing buttons enjoy click-through rates that are over 2.5 times that of those that do not.

    As a result, I decided to do an informal survey of the marketing e-mails I subscribe to. Most are from prominent, well-respected companies in fields such as publishing, marketing automation, finance and software.

    Use social sharing to increase e-mail marketing resultsThe results were eye-opening. Granted, my sample size was small (about 30 marketers), but this is what I found:

    Links to social media pages: 23%
    E-mail forwarding: 6%
    Social share buttons: 10%

    Issues in adding social media buttons

    There are four possible explanations for this data:

    1. Strategic decision: In some cases, a marketer might make a strategic decision to limit the actions the recipient can take, in order to maximize the focus on a conversion. This is certainly a legitimate concern, and I couldn’t imagine second guessing the conscious decisions that a seasoned marketer makes.

    2. Vendor limitations: Some service vendors make it easy to add both social links and sharing buttons, but you have to buy into their entire package for sending your e-mail. There are a whole host of reasons why you might not choose a specific vendor. Price might be one issue, but a greater concern might be that some of the larger, more prominent vendors insist that you only use heavily verified opt-in e-mail addresses. Their requirements might severely limit the size of your list and your use of e-mail for customer acquisition, even for the most legitimate marketers. Some vendors may also limit your ability to use custom designs for your e-mail and landing pages.

    3. Technical issues: As we discovered, making social links work on your e-mail without using a vendor’s packaged routine can be no small feat. The recommended sharing buttons require the use of javascript, and most e-mail clients strip out any javascript code causing the buttons not to appear, so this can be a non-starter.

    It took some doing to make this work. The solution on Twitter and LinkedIn ultimately proved pretty straightforward, but Facebook was a bit more of a challenge, requiring that we register an app with permissions to our website to make it work.

    4. The ostrich approach: Most of the organizations we receive e-mails from are using social media, and the lack of sharing and linking buttons may just be due to the marketers not thinking about it, or putting in the effort.

    While you may ultimately decide to not include social sharing or links on some (or perhaps all) of your marketing e-mail, it’s certainly worth actively considering. The lift in response alone makes it well worth the effort. The stamp of approval the recipient adds by forwarding your message adds real credibility on the part of a prospect that may never have heard of you before, and the attention it brings on the part of both the recommender and the person receiving the recommendation reinforces your message for both of them.

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