Inviting subscribers to share content with their friends and family in their trusted social networks is far more powerful than using forward-to-a-friend.
Flashback 1999. It seemed like a good idea at the time: create a form that your e-mail subscribers could use to forward your e-mail messages to their friends instead of clicking the "forward" button in their e-mail software.
A great feature for marketers trying to harness all of e-mail's power, especially its essential viral/social nature. No longer would marketers have to wonder how their messages were spreading. Now they could track how many readers clicked their "Forward to a Friend" links and how many referrals a message generated. Also, no longer would e-mail clients break images and links when forwarding the messages. What a gold mine!
Alas, forward-to-a-friend (FTAF) has some fatal flaws. Among them: it's still easier just to click the "forward" button and fill in a friend's e-mail address. And, there's the trust issue, because some subscribers don't trust marketers to behave responsibly with their own e-mail addresses, much less their friends' addresses.
The problem with FTAF is that it is marketer-centric, not customer-centric. In hindsight, it might be the stupidest idea e-mail marketers ever had, and its death is highly anticipated (at least by me).
Share-With-Your-Network Picks Up Where Forward-to-A-Friend Leaves Off
Today, more marketers are using two tools that could make forward-to-a-friend obsolete because they are easier to use, don't have the trust issue, and offer marketers more benefits:
Although more e-retailers use FTAF links in their promotions, newsletters, announcements, etc., than SWYN links, the social-network links are beginning to close the gap.
A new study from my colleague Chad White, Responsys research director and publisher of the daily Retail Email Blog, predicts that SWYN adoption will overtake FTAF in 12 to 18 months.
However, he also finds that community links are already far more popular in e-mail messages than either SWYN or FTAF.
Chad's research shows that 26 percent of the e-mail messages he tracks from major retailers include at least one SWYN link, compared with 44 percent of messages that feature a link to an FTAF form.
However, 75 percent of the retail e-mails he studied linked to at least one company-sponsored social network page, and that link was most often to the company's Facebook page.
Why SWYN Beats FTAF
Inviting subscribers to share content with their friends and family in their trusted social networks is far more powerful than using FTAF.
Bottom line: SWYN has greater reach, and is likely to be used by a customer, because it is customer-centric not marketer-centric.
And perhaps more importantly, the interplay in using e-mail and social together is more powerful than using the two separately. One of my clients grew their e-mail list more than 50 percent year-over-year. And a full one-third of the new subscribers came from a Facebook signup form.
Kill FTAF Now
All this leaves you wondering. Why did we ever invent the forward-to-a-friend feature? Did we really think customers couldn't find the forward button on their e-mail software?
In the last year, use of FTAF dropped from 48 percent to 44 percent.
I think we are not moving fast enough. Let's let it die. Actually, please kill it. Make a choice. Use your precious screen real estate for SWYN. And get rid of FTAF.
On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!
Ed Henrich is vice president of professional services for Responsys, leading the company's creative, campaign development, strategy, and analytics teams to produce award-winning and profitable client e-mail marketing programs. Ed is a pioneer in the e-mail marketing industry, having joined Post Communications (now Yesmail) in 1997 when it was a five-person startup. For eight years, he was the company's vice president of client services, then president. Before that, Ed was a venture capitalist at Internet Capital Group and a senior consultant with McKinsey & Company. A former Fulbright Scholar to Australia in Control Systems Engineering, Ed holds a PhD and an MS from UCLA and a BS from Drexel University. Follow him at his blog, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.
Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
12pm ET/9am PT
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
12pm ET/9am PT