Experian recently published research proving that an email marketing message that is shared within the social networking sphere delivers approximately five times as many forwards than a campaign email that features a single Forward To A Friend link. A surprising 2010 survey of major chain retailers in the United Kingdom showed that fully one third of all their email campaigns failed to include even a single link to social media sites, and 89% did not include links to a blog! In order to maximize the results from your social media and viral marketing strategies, and to avoid falling into the same traps as some really huge companies that should know better, here are the top ten steps to gaining social media success.

  • Integrate a prominent and visible Forward To A Friend link in your campaign emails. An astounding 64% of the surveyed retailers failed to do so.
  • Don’t expect that your prospects will utilize the Forward control on their email clients, as this redirection may create problems in rendering and viewing the email, and you won’t be able to precisely track who received the forwarded message and what aspect of it interested them.
  • Make sure that the forwarded email is clearly identified as arriving from the referrer so that the recipient doesn’t interpret it to be spam: the friend’s name must be shown either in the From or the Subject line.
  • Implement a Referring Message in the forwarded email such as “Janice Smith thought you might really like this offer.”
  • Include a Sign Up link on all of your campaigns’ emails so that the Friends Of Friends can fill out a form that will add them to your permission based email newsletter database.
  • Your potential referrers must be vividly aware that forwarding this email to their friends is not going to automatically include the friend to an unrequested mailing list or capture their personal data.
  • Learn the preferred social networks that your prospects and your target market utilize so that you don’t link your emails to LinkedIn when your customers hang out on Facebook. If you don’t know where your customers are, ask them: A brief online survey will reveal extremely valuable data about their favorite social networks.
  • Categorize the various groups (or “tribes”) that constitute your market, and make the effort to learn what motivates and differentiates them. The short survey just mentioned can open up a world of tribal understanding.
  • Once you have learned the motivators, segment your email content based on these tribal structures that are both compelling and also specifically intended to maximize the level of social network sharing. Remember that relevance is the number one factor in determining whether an email gets socially shared or not.
  • Design your email templates around a prominent link to your subscription page to assist new recipients in registering for your newsletters. Do everything possible to assuage their wariness of signing up by portraying the subscription content as informative, entertaining and relevant… and not a life sentence to the spamitentiary.

If you don’t have a blog, get one. If you don’t have a Facebook Fan Page, build one. Don’t make the mistakes that some major retailers are committing: Embrace social media to the fullest extent in every aspect of your email campaigns right now and watch your bottom line spike upwards!