Email marketing and marketing automation provider Silverpop just released a timely white paper (registration required) that gives new hope to B2B marketers looking for creative ways to increase response from email campaigns.
In “Emails Gone Viral: Measuring “Share to Social” Performance”, Silverpop provides compelling data that suggests adding social links to emails can have a significant effect on email reach (views), click-through, and response. The report is based on research that reviewed more than 500 email messages containing links to social networking sites.
Two important notes:
* 86 percent of the emails reviewed were from business-to-consumer companies, so B2B companies should be cautious about extrapolating the data as projections for their own markets
* conversely, and as Silverpop acknowledges, social sharing is a relatively new phenomenon. As social networks and social sharing take off, as they are and will, the impact that social links have on email performance should continue to increase.
Some of the key takeaways from the report:
* sharing links in emails generate clicks for an average of 6.8 days (far longer than one would expect from standard email response data)
* Facebook dominates amongst social networks, but again, this could be due to the report’s B2C bias. Bebo, LinkedIn and Delicious all performed well.
* the average click-through rate on social links is 0.5% (sounds low, but remember: these are clicks over-and-above the click-through rate your email would generate anyway) which Silverpop claims is far higher than CTRs on more standard “Forward-to-a-Friend” links
So does this mean that you should immediately add sharing links to all your emails? In a word: no. One issue that the Silverpop doesn’t address is the potential negative impact that social links may have on response – for example, is it possible that a prominent sharing link would cause a reader to click on that link instead of responding to the email itself? In other words, could social sharing potentially cannibalize email response, even while it expands an email’s reach?
Credit to Silverpop for emphasizing that it’s early days yet and that the answer is testing, and lots of it. Test emails with and without social links. Test their location in the email. Test text links vs. icons. Test multiple icons (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) vs. All-in-one icons (AddThis). Test links in landing pages, thank you pages, fulfillment emails, even lead nurturing campaigns. And keep testing until you find what works best for your specific audience.
Note: we have no formal business relationship with Silverpop, and they were not contacted for this post.