How E-Mail Recipients Use Social Sharing Links

Social media “share” links generate clicks in e-mail campaigns for an average of 6.8 days, according to a study by Silverpop to be released on Wednesday.

The report found the links sometimes produce clicks for over 40 days after the original send. However, as with “traditional e-mail,” the majority of clicks for e-mail messages shared via social networks occurred in the first two days. Eighteen percent of messages evaluated had viral activity for more than 2 weeks.

Dubbed “E-mails Gone Viral: Measuring ‘Share-to-Social’ Performance,” Silverpop’s report uses stats pulled from commercial messages incorporating “share” buttons for Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg, etc. The Atlanta-based e-mail marketing services provider reviewed 562 campaigns. The messages were sent from 98 business-to-consumer companies and 16 business-to-business firms, totaling more than 54 million recipients.

The report tracked two different kinds of clicks. First, clicks that occurred within the original message body on the “share” buttons that let viewers post a hyperlinked version of the email at their social network. Second, when viewers clicked on the post, taking them off the proprietary social media site while opening what amounts to a Web version of the original e-mail.

Every e-mail evaluated for the study included a button to Facebook, while MySpace, Twitter and Digg were the next most frequently included sites. Interestingly, Bebo, Delicious, LinkedIn, and Reddit actually had a higher percentage rate of “share” click-throughs among traffic coming from the networks.

“Networks like LinkedIn tend to be a little more specific, and the people active in them are probably more in tune with the idea of social sharing,” said Loren McDonald, VP of industry relations, Silverpop. “There was also probably a greater match with the recipient at the actual network — where the content really resonated.”

LinkedIn was a distant fifth in terms of overall presence. But within the B2B category, it’s notable that 83 percent of the campaigns involved a click-through to the networking site.

Meanwhile, 83 percent of the e-mails slotted the social media links at the bottom of the design. Somewhat surprisingly, the study found it mattered little where the links were placed; the difference in click data between at the top and below-the-fold was nominal.

While specific creative elements didn’t seem to profoundly affect an e-mail’s viral performance, the study revealed that most frequently shared e-mails carried a brand name or specific product in the subject line rather than an offer like a percentage discount.

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