Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Email on Steriods

Email marketing isn’t going away any time soon. Can it be made more effective—even viral—by including social networking options in email? Silverpop thinks so and has a product to do just that. Their Share-to-Social product was introduced in early October, so it’s a bit hard to find examples of use, but the prospects are fascinating.

Basically the product allows Silverpop clients to embed links in their emails that allow recipients to easily post messages—social emails?—to their social network pages. It’s new, and there are no detailed case studies. Two users identified in the Silverpop white paper are and GodTube. According to the white paper:

• One of’s emails was posted on 50 different social network profile pages. That kind of customer endorsement turns email “push” marketing into a powerful “pull” campaign. (page 2)
• GodTube, a global technology company that creates social networking tools for the faith-based and family marketplace, achieved significant viral activity from its social email marketing campaign. An email sent with Silverpop’s Share-to-Social links had an open-to-click rate of 31 percent, and nearly 15 percent of those who clicked in the email posted the message to Facebook or MySpace. Astoundingly, 25 percent of the posted emails generated additional clicks, compared to MarketingSherpa’s estimated average clickthrough rate of just 2.5 percent for BtoC marketers using third-party lists. (page 4)

The potential communications impact is obvious. Beyond that the product allows the marketer to track the resulting messages, something that can’t be done on the social network sites themselves. According to the Getting Email Delivered blog:

The SilverPop service also offers tracking “which social network the recipient posted the message on, telling marketers which one achieved the best results. Silverpop creates a unique tracking code for every shared message, so marketers can tell, for example, that an email posted by a recipient on Facebook was opened 1,000 times while one posted on MySpace was only opened 100 times.”
Their tracking system even measures the number of click-throughs generated by the posting at a given Facebook or MySpace page, so you can know which of your user’s posts to Facebook or Myspace generated the most clicks. SilverPop suggests that you can use such tracking to spot and target influencers, saying that “Such sought-after influencers are easily identified and targeted. Lists of social influencers can be created in Silverpop’s solution with one click by simply viewing the “recipients who forwarded” list.”

Again, under ordinary circumstances you can’t track what’s happening to messages on social networking sites. Once they move from your own page, where you get limited stats, you don’t know what’s happening to them.

Here’s more on how it works for from Internet Retailer:

The widget, plugged into e-mails, allows to embed in the e-mail a set of links that allow recipients of the e-mail to easily share content of that e-mail on their Facebook or MySpace page, by automatically creating a thumbnail image and a blurb of the featured item the e-mail recipient wants to share. The e-mail recipient can then add this summarized content to her own social network site page, e-mail list or blog for distribution—and that content includes links that allow viewers to see the full, original e-mail which contains links back to to view and buy the product.

Silverpop says that in order to make this work the marketer must identify the “hot buttons” to which her audience responds and align messages closely to recipient interests. This capture from the white paper (page 3) is probably the best example of how the service works short of getting an email from a user. They also point out that once the content is posted on the social network page it’s under the control of the user, no longer the marketer.

It’s interesting to consider the two sites that are in the news as having successfully used this service. serves a target market—young mothers—that is notoriously communicative. Consider GodTube’s own stats on its audience. For different reasons both these target audience are responsive to particular messages and are eager to share with other people like themselves, including through their social networks.

If you have a good product—one that people will like to talk about and to share with their friends and families—then this type of email sharing is going to be of interest. For the right targets it's a great way to get your customers to share your messages with their own contacts--improving not only their reach, but also their credibility!

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