We’ve all seen it happen: a trusted individual recommends or suggests something. It’s a powerful way to not only convey a message, but also elicit a response. That’s why it’s important for email marketers to understand the value of social media sharing. Having prospects and customers receive, open and pay attention to your email message is good, but having them then share the message further via email or other social media is great. Customer-instigated sharing across social media channels acts as a force multiplier that can significantly ratchet up the effectiveness of an email marketing campaign, both in reach and impact.
Most marketers track the basics of email marketing: deliverability (i.e., bounces), opens (i.e., renders), clicks, unsubscribes and spam complaints. Add social sharing to that list in order to begin to understand the dynamic between your email subscribers and their social influence. If you’re tracking social activity and influence in another system, try to match the influence back to your CRM database by asking subscribers to provide their Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn handle.
If you pay for data from Facebook or other social networks, you can match data via email address. Be prepared, however, to see a low match rate between your email file and the email addresses on record at the social network. Many consumers use different email addresses for different purposes.
At the minimum, the data you see in your email marketing system — e.g., social sharing, link clicks and any self-reported data on social behavior — will at least give you an idea of what social activities are most important to your subscribers. It appears there’s a pretty wide variance by time of day for a retailer. Sale promotions sent on weekends were shared with social networks much more frequently than those sent during the week. Therefore, retailers were able to adjust the timing and content of their messages to feature social shopping activities.
In addition, time of day during the week was tested to see if there’s a correlation to opening email on a PC versus a mobile device. Sharing can happen from each, but often occurs more frequently on mobile devices.
There are a few factors to consider when analyzing social activity:
- Cadence: Be aware that the footprint of each message grows as it’s shared. You may need to adjust the pace of certain messages to adapt to this longer tail.
- Influence: Reach alone isn’t the key metric; impact and conversion are what truly matter. Track which social media channels provide the most conversions.
- Influencers: Data collection and management allows you to identify your biggest brand advocates. Leverage their enthusiasm even more through special offers, enhanced communication and other promotions that recognize their status.
- Segmentation: Slicing social media data by channel, time, topic, etc., can help you identify patterns that make it easier to target future email messages.
- Privacy: Brands that overstep, spam or fail to disclose their intentions risk subscriber backlash. Cross the line and you’ll be contending with negative social media sharing.
Word-of-mouth today doesn’t just happen one-to-one in-person; it happens inbox-to-inbox and across a wide range of social media platforms. Learn to harness the power of this social media sharing and you’ll improve the reach and effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns.
What are your biggest challenges when it comes to tracking and encouraging social sharing via email? Share your experiences in the comments section below.