6 Ways to Encourage Influencer Behavior Through Email Marketing

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BY  JENN FERNANDES We all know that a data-driven email marketing strategy can help us refine, define, and effectively engage our subs...

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We all know that a data-driven email marketing strategy can help us refine, define, and effectively engage our subscribers. But, another key piece of your marketing strategy is engaging your brand influencers.

What is a brand influencer? An influencer is someone who shares and posts your website and social content, broadening the reach of our brand to their networks. Often, what’s overlooked is influencer strategy for your email campaigns (yes, I said email).
There’s a few ways influencers can share your email:
  • Forwarding your email: When someone forwards your email, it means they click the “Forward” button within their email client, or your link in the email to “Forward to a Friend.” Litmus Analytics will track the button click so you can see how many times your email is forwarded.
  • Social sharing: This is when someone clicks on social media icons embedded in your email to share your call-to-action, shares the email itself on social, or otherwise mentions your brand on social media as the result of a call-to-action within your email.
According to our own Viral Email Report, social sharing expands your reach, while email forwards drive more conversions. Since we know that email marketing represents the largest ROI of any marketing channel (38:1 to be exact), it’s key to create compelling mailings that lend themselves to these two influencer functions.
Below are some handy tips and tricks for effectively using and increasing your influencers via email:

1. KNOW YOUR REAL INFLUENCERS

It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s hugely important to spend your time effectively targeting those who are or can be influencers. Targeting folks who are doing more than just opening your email will help you develop your true influencer network. Vicky Ge, Marketing Manager of Trade Books, at Amazon.com talks more about defining your influencers by their behaviors and how to target them with the correct communcations strategy.

2. SIMPLIFY YOUR EMAIL’S MESSAGE & DESIGN

Simple emails with a single subject make it easy for subscribers to want to forward to their networks. They don’t have to spend the time picking apart what’s important or what type of information their network will find useful.
In addition to clear messaging, your email design and content hierarchy should be easy to navigate for your subscribers, especially those are who receiving this message secondhand. Consider the ways your design can relay the most important message or call-to-action (CTA) effectively and concisely.
Subscription service Ipsy does an excellent job simplifying the messaging and design of their mailings, so it’s tailored, right to the point, and easy to forward. Plus, they take it a step further and even craft simplified messaging around this action—both my friend and I know how to “Get Started” and what we get. Take a look at the simple, yet effective, email below for inspiration.

3. PERSONALIZE THE CONTENT FOR YOUR SUBSCRIBERS

Personalizing your content can increase that 1:1 subscriber experience. But, did you know that personalizing content actually helps to contribute to forwards and reach as well? In our Viral Email Report, we noted that among the more than 200 emails we examined from among the top 1% of most viral commercial emails, 8.9% contained personal or personalized content.
But, personalization goes beyond a first and last name in your mailing. It’s about providing content relevant to the subscriber and their interaction with your brand. This could be as simple as showing something they browsed on your site, to as sophisticated as photos from an event that they attended. Using this kind of personalized content makes it so relevant that your subscribers will want to share it with their networks.
AirBnb does an excellent job of tracking where in the world subscribers are looking and following up with personalized, relevant content. AirBnb sent along the email below after they saw I was thinking of traveling to Galway, Ireland, but hadn’t booked yet. Did I forward this email onto my travel mates? You bet I did! Personalizing the content to what I wanted to see made me want to share this experience with my closest network.

4. ALLOW USERS TO EASILY CUSTOMIZE OR PERSONALIZE THE EXPERIENCE FOR THEIR NETWORK

Personalizing the experience for the subscriber is key to help encourage sharing and forwarding. But providing easy ways for your subscriber to personalize the email before they send to their network may help to encourage reach as well.
Whether it’s canned or boilerplate language that you provide to your users to customize or share across social, or a full email that they can easily customize, the more and more you can make your content relevant to what they, and their networks, want to see, the better.
Honey, a browser extension for appending coupon codes at checkout and providing shopping incentives, personalizes the experience, but also allows this subscriber to personalize it for their network. You can see they’ve added a link at the bottom of their weekly incentives emails, so subscribers can “Customize a Invite” to a friend. This link then brings you to customizable sharing page, complete with unique, shortened URL to share.

5. PROMOTE COLLECTIVE (AND EASY TO USE) REWARDS

Of course you want to your subscribers to forward to their friends, family, and networks to then interact and open your mailing, thus broadening its reach. But many subscribers may not be wooed by a prominent “Forward to Friend” or “Share With Your Network” link. Instead, you can broaden the reach of your network by incentivizing the action.
For example, create a campaign for users to forward the email, right with an incentive like a coupon code or discount baked in the email. Let’s face it, we are lazy and distracted as subscribers, so making sharing with your network as easy as possible, and adding a reward, is ideal. However, do it with caution—you may run the risk of attracting price-sensitive consumers over brand loyal customers.
Take this example from HelloFresh. They directly offer a collective reward. The design and thus action for the subscriber to take is easy to understand. Plus, a little peer pressure to make sure both complete the action never hurts, right?

6. PAIR EMAIL + SOCIAL TO GROW YOUR SUBSCRIBER BASE

Integrating social media into your email can provide a springboard for your subscribers to share with their networks and increase your subscriber list organically. Using email to drive social engagement can continue the conversation and boost interactions with email.
The easiest way to enable your subscribers to share socially is to add sharing buttons! Including icons or links to your social profiles or with click-to-tweet functionality at the top or bottom of your email is so easy 76% of email marketers already do it.
Other ways to increase social sharing can be running a social-oriented campaign or promoting a social contest. We used gamification for Litmus Live 2016 (formerly known as The Email Design Conference) to generate a ton of excitement and reveal our surprise third conference city. Only after we received 500 shares (through tweets, forwards, and Community posts) did we tell people that Litmus Live is coming to San Francisco Sept. 15-16.
This prompted a lot of tweeting not just about the conference, but about the design of our email and how much they loved it, generating some serious buzz on social. You can track social shares either by using a service like Click-to-Tweet, which includes automatic link tracking, or through UTM codes. If you’re running a contest, using rules like including a hashtag or your company handle can help you track it directly in your social media service, so you know exactly how the campaign is working.

DISCOVER YOUR EMAIL INFLUENCERS

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