How we communicate continues to evolve as tools and devices we use change. Research from the Online Publishers Association showed that communications accounted for 27 percent of users' time in 2009, down from 46 percent in 2003 while community, which wasn't measured in 2003, accounts for 13 percent of user time online. This shift is attributable to the fact that consumers use social media to communicate and engage with their friends and contacts because it's efficient and device indifferent. Interestingly, a Nielsen study found that high consumers of social media were also high consumers of e-mail. This may be attributed to the fact that many social media sites use e-mail addresses as a form of identification and to update members about their circle of acquaintances. And social media heavy users spend disproportionately more time online across functions.
To adapt to these dynamic trends, marketers are modifying their channels of communication to maintain contact with prospects and customers and to extend their reach across platforms. One way they are doing this is by adding features that enable consumers to share their communications with their social networks. In its benchmark study " Emails Gone Viral: Measuring 'Share to Social' Performance," Silverpop found that adding social sharing tools to e-mail provided an additional views by 1 percent on shared networks, increasing reach by 24.3 percent. While these results may appear low -- this additional reach is incremental to your e-mailing -- it comes with an endorsement and is significantly higher than the rate for forward-to-a-friend functionality. The reach can also improve with testing and better implementation. As with any social media site, most users are passive consumers of content and a small percentage of users create and contribute the great bulk of content.
Three Ways to Socialize Your E-mail Communications
Just adding social sharing links to your e-mail isn't sufficient to socialize your content. Silverpop found no social clicks on offered links in roughly one in three e-mails. Here are three recommendations to make your e-mailings more effective at driving social interactions.
Three Metrics to Assess Your E-mail Socialization Program
When assessing the impact of your social sharing e-mail program, remember as with any interactive marketing initiative, it takes testing and measurement to improve its effectiveness. Here are three of the salient metrics for your social sharing e-mail campaign:
Because e-mail is a critical communications tool for many marketers, extend its reach and relevance by creating social media friendly content and adding sharing tools. To increase the effectiveness of your e-mail socialization, test different factors including the placement and context of social media links within the e-mail, subject lines, the type of e-mail content, the number of social media links, the social networking sites offered, and your e-mail's target audience. It takes work, but cultivation of social media buzz can really extend the impact of your e-mail campaign.
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Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.
Heidi is also a popular speaker on current industry topics.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT