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How social sharing is working for SMBs

Simon Grabowski
How social sharing is working for SMBs Simon Grabowski

The buzz around social media marketing is so loud, it may be turning off some SMB marketers. But in a tough economy, it's almost more important for small businesses to take advantage of promising trends than for large marketing departments that have deep pockets and global brands.

Unfortunately, many small- and medium-sized businesses don't have the staff or the budget to invest in "unproven" tactics, even when they reach the tsunami stage, as has happened with social media. So how are these small-business marketers responding to the pressure to "get social"?

Get connected. Want to meet up with the companies that are leading email marketing into the future? Check out the exhibit hall at ad:tech New York, Nov. 3-4. Learn more.

According to a study my company conducted on email marketing trends, almost 89 percent of SMB customers said they intended to increase social sharing in 2010. We followed up on our original findings with a new email marketing and social media sharing report, and the results summarized below tell us there are some aspects of social media integration that need to be better understood before they can be leveraged by this marketing segment.

Social media study overview
The report analyzed integration and sharing using Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Digg in almost 500 million emails sent by GetResponse customers. We tracked the two most popular social marketing tactics:

  • Integrating (or publishing) links to current campaigns, newsletters, contests, etc., on Twitter account pages

  • Including one to five social media sharing icons in messages before sending

Social media integration highlights

  • Emails that included at least one social sharing option generated a more than 30 percent higher CTR than emails with no social sharing options.

  • Emails that included at least three social sharing icons generated a more than 55 percent higher CTR than messages without any sharing options.

  • 60 percent of all social emails included only one sharing icon. Only 11.2 percent of social emails included three icons or more.

  • Twitter was the most popular social sharing option, included in 67.2 percent of all social emails; Facebook came in a close second at 62.7 percent.

  • Emails shared on Twitter returned CTRs of 10.2 percent -- more than 40 percent higher than messages not linked to any social media.

  • Almost 19 percent of SMB marketers (GetResponse users) used the Twitter integration feature (linked their campaigns to Twitter) at least once. Only 13.5 percent included social sharing options.

We were encouraged that email marketers were using Twitter and Facebook quite aggressively, but saw a huge missed opportunity in social sharing. Perhaps the practice of hitting "send" and waiting for a response has become too ingrained? Or perhaps we need to tone down the hype and present a more compelling argument.

Why social media for SMBs?
To help persuade the doubters, here are some compelling stats and tips on how to "get social" with your email marketing: 

Audience reach. These data are truly jaw-dropping, but just think of these millions as potential paying customers. For example:

  • eMarketer estimates that 57.5 percent of internet users, or 127 million people, will use a social network at least once a month in 2010.

  • By 2014, nearly two-thirds of all internet users, or 164.9 million people, will be regular users of social networks.

Brand proliferation. These data might surprise you. Many think of social sharing as a form of frivolous conversation among bored and mostly young users. Not so. When you and your subscribers share your email marketing with online social networks, the average consumer you're reaching is 37 years old. And the top reasons for sharing: product information and recommendations.

Sales and sign ups. According to MarketingSherpa, 49 percent of Twitter users said they made an online purchase because of an email, compared to 33 percent of all email users. And this comScore report tells you that social media users spend. 

When you factor in the plethora of sites where you can post a sign-up form for your newsletter, product demo, webinar, etc., the "network" effect can build your mailing list faster than you thought possible.

Viral marketing. This one's easy: Facebook has more than 400 million active users worldwide, each with about 130 "friends." Meanwhile, Twitter users are currently posting 55 million tweets per day. When you integrate with Twitter, or offer social media sharing to your readers, your message could ripple across the internet in blogs, emails, social media pages, and fan pages and back to your website, potentially reaching thousands of prospects and customers. That's the power of sharing. 

Getting started with social media integration
The following tips on how to get "social" with your email marketing take very little time to implement. But once your targets are engaged, it's essential that you then listen and respond. So when you're creating your strategy, allow plenty of time for interaction and feedback.

  • Integrate (publish) email marketing campaigns on your Twitter brand page.

  • Tweet new email marketing offers, blog updates, events, and news.

  • Place links to media coverage, offers, newsletters, etc., on social media pages.

  • Add sign-up forms to email messages, social media pages, blogs, and websites.

  • Include "follow us" links in email messages, blogs, etc. If you include on your homepage, track to make sure you're not losing visitors to social media.

  • Broadcast blog entries to your email marketing list.

  • Integrate your social media activities. Think "network." For example, you might tell your Twitter followers about something on your Facebook fan page.

And so on and so on. If this seems daunting, simply cross-reference your busiest social networks. It's only a sentence, but again, it leverages the power of sharing.

The key to SMB social marketing success is to explore and plan out a social media strategy that your unique business can support over time. Make it yours, but make it a conversation that's too good to end!

Simon Grabowski is the founder of GetResponse.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet. 


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