Social networking may be all the rage, but when it comes to sharing links, content, pictures and ideas-email remains the star. And not just by a little bit. According to a StrongMail study, "fully 86% of sharing activity related to social programs run on [their] platform in Q3 3009 was done via e-mail. Facebook got only 6% of shares, while another 4% were tweeted."
This is a very good reason for B2B marketers to focus on making it easy to assimilate and share your ideas. It's one thing to have a prospect click forward and send on your eNewsletter or a link to your webpage. It's quite another to have them express ideas about why they think it's important. You need to help them with that.
A lot of people send me links to stuff with a "Hey, check this out..." type of message. Unless I really trust the source, I delete or let it sit there to see if the person will prod me a bit if they don't hear back. I'm busy, just like your prospects. Information is flying fast and freely at a rate that's hard to keep up with.
Referral from a trusted source also drives higher page views. According to ShareThis, emails sharing information not only create higher click through rates(CTR) but account for an average of 2.95 pages viewed per CTR. I'm pretty darn sure that this is due to the level of relevance for the recipient.
You see, when people know and trust the source, they're more likely to respond because they perceive that the person is sending something they'll find valuable. That should send a clear signal to marketers about the importance of:
- Getting to know your prospects really well.
- Segmenting your lists for improved relevance.
- Building credibility with each touch point.
- Designing "pass along" into your email/nurturing programs.
- Embracing storytelling to help prospects share your ideas.
- Ensuring your email message itself is valuable - not just the content you link to.
Attaining this nirvana of 1-to-1 communications may still be a bit out of reach, but B2B marketers can get a lot closer than they think if they're willing to put their time in on the front end when they design their communications programs.
In fact, if you discover you have a lot of influencers (vs. decision makers) in your database, spend some time developing a program designed to gain exposure to the decision makers you're trying to reach via a sharing strategy. If the content you're providing is helpful to a peer or colleague, they just may share it. After all, we all want to be helpful and appreciated...right?
Databases should not be used for one-size-fits-all distribution of your email programs.
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