Email Beats Social Networks for Online Offer Sharing: Study

SocialTwist Finds People Prefer to Pass Along Privately, Particularly for Personal Products

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Email beats social networks Facebook and Twitter combined as the top medium for sharing online coupons and other offers, according to new research from SocialTwist, a company that specializes in giving consumers incentives to share deals online.

SocialTwist has run online couponing programs for such marketers as Kimberly-Clark Corp., Reckitt Benckiser, Kraft, Coca-Cola Co., and ConAgra Foods as well as retailer Dollar General. Its programs use email and social media and typically give consumers a higher incentive when they share an offer with friends rather than just use than it for themselves.

From a SocialTwist campaign for Coke Zero
From a SocialTwist campaign for Coke Zero

A Twitter search on just about any packaged-goods brand shows much of the chatter to be about promotional offers. But deal-sharing is actually far more prevalent beyond the gaze of social-media search, based on SocialTwist's experience across more than 40 campaigns for consumer-packaged goods marketers.

The firm found that 55.4% of brand advocates used e-mail to share information vs. only 2.6% using Twitter and 41.8% using Facebook.

But e-mail proved to be the most-effective channel for reaching consumers who "engage and convert," as SocialTwist puts it, which is to say those who click on offers and redeem them. Across its campaigns, 50.8% of new consumers were reached via email, vs. 26.8% via Twitter and 22% via Facebook.

So while Twitter may be the least-popular medium for SocialTwist offer sharing, it punches well above its weight in terms of reach -- when an offer is retweeted, it tends to get a lot more exposure than say a forwarded email. Twitter also over-indexed when it came to conversions, accounting for 16.8% of offer redemptions though it accounted for only 2.6% of shares.

The trend toward email being the leading sharing medium "was a surprise" when SocialTwist first noticed it 18 month ago, said Chief Marketing Officer Vijay Sundaram.

He believes it's because "e-mail is still a personal, one-to-one medium." People are more likely to use e-mail to share offers about personal-care and luxury products that they may not necessarily want the whole world to know they're interested in, Mr. Sundaram said, while they're somewhat more likely to use social networks to share offers about less-personal household products.

The SocialTwist study also found that the old Pareto Principle applies to social deal sharing: 10% of influencers were responsible for 85% of "all desired marketing outcomes" such as coupon downloads and redemptions. And the study found personal-care products generate more engagement with and redemption of offers than household products, though Social Twist said social-marketing methods work for both categories.

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