How do I measure the impact of social media on e-mail marketing?

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Social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are terrific complements to e-mail marketing. Social media links included in an e-mail are the equivalent of Forward to a Friend on steroids because of the viral nature of social media platforms. In fact, we've found that social sharing increases audience exposure by a factor three to five times over Forward to Friend.

Measuring how social media affects your e-mail efforts isn't that difficult because most e-mail service providers (ESPs) today offer social sharing-tracking as part of their metrics and reporting function. The key is increasing social sharing, growing your audience and measuring how that growth leads to increased sales.

Here are some best practices:

  • Reinforce the opportunity to sign up. It may seem odd to put a sign-up link in e-mails that go out to current subscribers, but you want to make it as easy as possible, when the e-mail is shared, for your new audience to sign up for your mailings.
  • Beef up your call to action. Because ESPs track only the first impression when an e-mail is shared, give all recipients a reason to connect directly with you by including a specific call to action. The call might be to download a white paper, enter a contest, etc. Make sure to use unique URLs or special landing pages to help you track where your new recipients are coming.
  • Offer incentives to share. One company offered a gift to subscribers who shared content and enticed 10 friends to sign up for their newsletter. With incentives like this, it has grown its list by nearly 15% in just a few months.
  • Design your e-mails for multiple platforms. Heavy social media users are likely to read your e-mail on a smartphone, so keep your call to action short and at the top of your e-mail. We've found that e-mails with minimal content and only one call to action perform the best.
  • Take care of your brand advocates. Tailor special e-mails targeted to your “power sharers.” Bring them in early to review new products and services.

Finally, once new members sign up, use measured marketing to monitor each lead source as it moves through the sales pipeline so you can determine what's working and where to allocate future efforts.

Carissa Newton is director of marketing for Delivra (, a provider of e-mail marketing software and services.

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