June 01, 2010
Best Practice

Using Social Sharing to Achieve Specific Email Goals: 5 Insights

SUMMARY: With all the talk about the integration of email and social media, many email marketers still wonder how social media can help with their email campaigns.

So we asked email marketers to rate the effectiveness of social sharing to achieve specific goals, such as increasing reach, generating leads or growing lists. You can see their answers in the featured chart, and read examples from marketers who put social sharing tactics in place.
For many marketers, integrating email and social media is seen as a way to increase the reach of messages. But email/social integration -- whether by adding social sharing buttons in messages, featuring social media content in emails, or reaching out to social followers with email offers -- can provide more than just extended reach.

Here’s what marketers had to say when we asked them to rate the effectiveness of social sharing to achieve specific marketing goals.

The Effectiveness of Social Sharing in Achieving Email Marketing Objectives

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Below, we explore these five goals in more detail, and provide insights from case study examples that show how combination of social media and email can be so effective.

Insight #1. Increase brand reputation and awareness

By giving your subscribers the ability to share email content with hundreds or thousands of their social network followers, you’re increasing your chances of being discovered by new subscribers and prospects.

For example, when the team at B2B newsletter publisher SmartBrief added social sharing buttons to articles featured in their emails, visits from the social networks where subscribers were sharing content exploded:
o Visits from LinkedIn increased 2,070%
o Visits from Twitter increased 1,680%
o Visits from Facebook increased 1,351%

The huge jump in traffic from those networks almost certainly featured many visitors who were encountering the SmartBrief brand for the first time.

"For the most part, it’s about visibility and showing the value of your publications, because this is the way people are sharing information with each other," says Rob Birgfield, Director, Audience Development, SmartBrief.

Insight #2. Extend the reach of email content into new markets

Increasing brand awareness and extending reach go hand-in-hand. Exactly how much social sharing can extend your reach depends on a host of factors, from the size your subscriber lists, to the depth and breadth of your subscribers’ social connections, and the potential appeal of your content as something that’s "share worthy."

But email service provider Silverpop recently analyzed a selection of their clients’ messages that contained social sharing buttons. They determined that email content shared with social networks increases the reach of that content 24.3% on average.

Insight #3. Increase ROI from email programs

Besides broader reach, social media channels provide a venue for additional messages that support your most important email marketing campaigns. And those supplementary messages can make your key email sends more effective.

For example, the team at baking supply company Wilton combined social media and email marketing to launch one of their best-selling products -- an annual "yearbook" of cake decorating ideas.

- They used Twitter and Facebook to build buzz prior to the product launch through tactics such as teasing book content and asking followers to guess the book’s cover image.

- Upon launch they conducted a standard email marketing campaign for the book

- Traffic to the yearbook page on Wilton.com doubled compared to the previous year, and helped generate a 65% increase in sales year over year.

"We created a dialog prior to product being released," says Eric Erwin, EVP Marketing & Product Development, Wilton. "We did not take a heavy-handed email approach and hammer our opt-in database over and over again."

Insight #4. Generate more qualified leads

For B2B marketers, the combination of email and social media offers a powerful way to stay in touch with prospects, distribute thought-leadership content or extend offers that can turn social followers or email subscribers into qualified leads.

But achieving the benefits of social sharing for lead generation can require more work than, say, sharing a simple consumer product offer with social followers. Pam O’Neal, VP Marketing, BreakingPoint Systems and her team have created a multifaceted email/social integration strategy that includes:
o Creating a monthly email newsletter from the company’s top blog posts
o Placing social sharing buttons on all content
o Maintaining LinkedIn groups with their own email communications
o Using email drip-marketing campaigns to drive prospects back to the website where they can request a meeting with a sales team

By combining email, social and SEO to attract prospects back to their site, the team was on track earlier this year to generate more than 50% of sales meetings from inbound web leads.

Insight #5. Accelerate the growth of email lists

It’s almost certain you won’t have 100% overlap between your email subscribers and your social media followers. That makes your social media audience a good target for your list growth campaigns.

Eric Erwin and the team at Wilton had success generating new opt-ins from social media. They created a Facebook wall posting that encouraged their Facebook fans to opt in to the Wilton newsletter and saw a 225% increase in opt-ins compared to the average daily signup rate.

Useful links related to this article

Learn how to integrate email and social media, and much more, at Sherpa’s new Social Marketing Training course

Members Library -- Share-to-Social Buttons Increase Newsletter Interaction: 6 Steps

Members Library -- Email and Social Media Integration: 5 Strategies to Grow Audiences and Design Campaigns

Members Library -- How to use Social Media and Email for Prospecting: 8 Essentials

Silverpop blog post describing the results of their social sharing study

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