October 1, 2009, 12:00 AM

Social sharing of e-mail expands reach of marketing campaigns, study finds

Share-to-social-network links in marketing e-mails produced a click rate larger than the click rate on forward-to-friend features, Silverpop finds in new study.

Though only about a year old, social sharing of marketing e-mails boosts click-throughs and open rates, according to a new study from e-mail services vendor Silverpop Systems Inc. A review of 562 e-mail messages sent to 54 million recipients from 114 companies using Silverpop’s Share-to-Social feature found that, without offering any incentives, social sharing click-through rates-meaning that consumers clicked on a link to post the e-mail`s content on their social profile page-were higher than the click rate for forward-to-a-friend features.

By contrast, clicks on standard forward-to-a friend links embedded in e-mails averaged a click-through rate of only a few tenths of 1%, the study found. Putting a web link for social sharing into an e-mail also lifted the open rate for that e-mail by an additional 1%, Silverpop says.

Silverpop’s Share-to-Social feature lets marketers place links in an e-mail that allow recipients to easily post the message to their profile page on any of eight social network sites. There, friends can see the message, make comments and even post the e-mail on their own profile pages.

“Combining e-mail and social networking can be very powerful,” says Loren McDonald, vice president of industry relations at Silverpop. With social network users on average connected to between 150 and 200 friends, McDonald adds, social sharing of e-mail allows marketers to reach an entirely new group of customers very similar to the ones they already have.

In other findings, the study determined that most opens and clicks on shared e-mails occurred in the first few days following their posting on a social site. The study recorded activity on the shared e-mails as late as 44 days after they were posted, but on average, the last click occurred about seven days after posting.

And while links to Facebook, MySpace and Twitter were most often included by marketers in e-mails they equipped for social sharing, the e-mails that had links to social networks Bebo, Delicious and LinkedIn were more often clicked on by visitors to social profile pages, once that e-mail content had been posted on a recipients’ page.

McDonald says the benchmark study established a baseline for future studies on how social sharing activity changes as it evolves into mainstream use among marketers.


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