In the Email 2.0 world, you should also give your subscribers the option of sharing your email content via social networks, social content sites and social bookmarking sites. Let's call it "Share with your network" -- or SWYN.
Many bloggers have made this method of sharing available to their readers for some time now. For instance, about 1% of my blog traffic now comes from social sites like Facebook, del.icio.us and StumbleUpon. If email marketers could match that level of sharing, for many companies that would equal the pass-along they get from FTAF -- which, again, roughly half of the top online retailers employ.
Given that fact, it's surprising that only one of the retailers that I track, Ralph Lauren, has made a full court press on social sharing of email content. The company started testing its "Share This Email!" banner back in June and has used it in its content-heavy emails ever since, including its emails about the Olympics.
Buy.com experimented with using Digg and del.icio.us links for the product listings in its emails early last year, but ended the test pretty quickly.
The news earlier this month that Silverpop has launched a Share-to-Social feature gives me hope that more email marketers will be exploring SWYN in near future. I expect other ESPs to match that offering in the months ahead, highlighting the social opportunity further.
Here are a few things to consider when looking at SWYN:
1. Is your audience active on social networks? Are they young, professional or tech-savvy?
2. If you're using social links on your Web site for products, videos or articles, what kind of usage are you seeing? If it's significant, it probably warrants testing SWYN in your emails.
3. While there is at least one vendor that will help you determine which social networks your customers/subscribers are on, you can include links to the networks that you believe are most relevant to start and then trim links based on results.
4. It's much cleaner to have the SWYN set up to share the entire email (as Ralph Lauren is doing) rather than individual promotions within an email (as Buy.com tried).
5. Do you send out both content-rich and promotion-heavy emails? Test to see which sees more sharing.
While I'm seeing significant integration among email and the store and catalog channels, there's still lots of siloing within the digital channels. Hardly any of the retailers that I track link to their blogs or Facebook pages, which is a missed opportunity. Email and social can play well together. SWYN is your friend.