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Send to a friend in email marketing

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Monday November 13, 2006 )

For starters, the company would already have the senders name and email address – so why ask for it again. Requiring the sender to include a message also seems a bit unreasonable. After all, one of the ideas behind the send to a friend concept is meant to be convenience. Put up blocks and people will just get frustrated or send the email on the old fashioned way, you know, the “forward” feature that every email client already provides :).

The survey also found that in many cases, the message could only be forwarded on to 1 person using the send to a friend feature. That can somewhat stymie a viral marketing goal.

Another big issue mentioned was that nearly half of those companies surveyed did not include a highly visible privacy statement. People need reassurance that the email addresses they enter won’t be automatically added to the companies’ list for further contact.

Send to a friend is a great idea as it allows marketers to better track the success of their campaigns and is *meant* to act as a trigger for consumers to forward emails on to their colleagues; but it would seem in many cases, it’s not being used as a trigger, more as a bullet.

Read more of the Send to a Friend Benchmark Study

Learn more about email marketing and autoresponder software

Free tell a friend script for your web site

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Only 44% of major retailers surveyed are using send to a friend (STAF) in their email marketing and according to a recent report, many are using practices that negatively impact on this potentially powerful viral marketing feature.

Before I get into some of the statistics from the survey, why bother with this feature in the first place? Surely people know how to use the forward feature, right?

Maybe so, but it’s been demonstrated time and time again that people need to be told, or should I say, urged, to take certain actions. If that weren’t the case, we’d never use the term “Buy now!” or “Sale ends Saturday, hurry!” in marketing. Calls to action are very important, but also so is the ability to track and gauge the effectiveness of a campaign in order to further refine it.

For example, you’re just running through your email and the last thing you’re probably thinking of is about your pal Joe. You open a marketing blurb with an interesting offer and you’re still not thinking about Joe; but in the email is a strategically placed suggestion, e.g. “have a friend who may be interested in this?”

Friend = Joe

The association between the word “friend” and your pal’s name may now spring to mind and if the marketer has done their job properly with the implementation of the send to a friend aspect; chances are you might forward it on to Joe (and others) using the feature.

Joe then receives your email and as it’s been sent by you, it’s basically been given a level of recommendation and credibility. He’s more likely to read the blurb. Joe may then buy the product and/or also forward it on to a few of his friends.

Meanwhile, the company who sent the original email is able to track with more accuracy as to the effectiveness of the campaign. Essentially, it’s a basic viral marketing strategy with some high fallutin’ metrics thrown in.

Back to some statistics from the survey, which was run by RetailEmail.Blogspot. It’s an interesting report well worth a read which also gives examples of how various major retailers implement send to a friend functionality in their email marketing.

Of the 39 major retailers in survey who offer send to a friend (STAF):

92% use a link in the email which leads to a form
8% embed the form in the email itself.

It appears that many of the retailers providing send to a friend do set up blocks which can discourage recipients from using the feature. For example:

49% required the senders name
18% asked for the senders email address
59% required the sender to include a message

For starters, the company would already have the senders name and email address – so why ask for it again. Requiring the sender to include a message also seems a bit unreasonable. After all, one of the ideas behind the send to a friend concept is meant to be convenience. Put up blocks and people will just get frustrated or send the email on the old fashioned way, you know, the “forward” feature that every email client already provides :).

The survey also found that in many cases, the message could only be forwarded on to 1 person using the send to a friend feature. That can somewhat stymie a viral marketing goal.

Another big issue mentioned was that nearly half of those companies surveyed did not include a highly visible privacy statement. People need reassurance that the email addresses they enter won’t be automatically added to the companies’ list for further contact.

Send to a friend is a great idea as it allows marketers to better track the success of their campaigns and is *meant* to act as a trigger for consumers to forward emails on to their colleagues; but it would seem in many cases, it’s not being used as a trigger, more as a bullet.

Read more of the Send to a Friend Benchmark Study

Learn more about email marketing and autoresponder software

Free tell a friend script for your web site



 

 
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