Executive Summary

Email isn't the opposite of social, even though some people try to position it that way. Like any communication between human beings, email Is social.

However, email and social media sites are not the same. Each has strengths and limitations. Used together, they can be a powertul combination.

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Infographic available here: http://blog.getresponse.com/social-sharing-boosts-email-ctr


Since the goal of marketing is to grow the business, we'll examine how email and social tactics can be combined to produce growth:

  • Grow by attracting a target demographic
  • Grow sales by engaging audiences
  • Grow profits by achieving higher conversion
  • Grow customer base by improving retention
  • Grow qualified leads through referrals

Which social channels are best for implementing these growth tactics? Based on our research and experience, no single channel is optimal.

Email converts sales better than social media. But growing your email marketing list using email-only is an uphill battle.

Social media channels can expose your brand to new markets. But many businesses still struggle to convert those new contacts into customers.

Smart marketers use social media referrals to attract a wider audience and email marketing for the person-to-person work of engagement, retention and conversion.

In this whitepaper, we give you the facts and figures for 2012.

And we offer techniques you can implement today to build true brand loyalty and to create that mysterious, valuable marketing phenomenon called ... buzz!

Email converts sales better than social media.

Part One: Market Research

We examined independent studies from reputable sources. And we performed our own research using data collected from GetResponse users (using anonymous, confidential means only.)

Research on Social Sites

Think of the size of your email list. Then think of each subscriber's social accounts. How many friends or followers does each have? What if at least one subscriber shares your newsletter?

See the potential there?

Here are the latest stats on number of active users on social sites:

  • Facebook: 1 billion
  • Twitter: 200 million
  • Linkedln: 200 million
  • YouTube: 800 million
  • Google Plus: 135 million
  • Instagram: 100 million
  • Pinterest: 40 million

These numbers are impressive, and marketers can't resist diving into social media sites to spread their message.

But the harsh reality of social media is that it has low conversion rates, compared to email.

Social media has lower conversion rates

Email Accounts

According to research, there are more than 3 billion email accounts across the globe, and approximately 294 billion emails are sent per day.*

This means email has nearly 3 times as many user accounts as Facebook and Twitter combined. Facebook and Twitter combined make up just 0.2% of the number of emails sent each day**

Permission email

The harsh reality of email is that roughly 78% of all emails are marked as spam, either by the recipient, the recipient's Internet Service Provider (ISP) or any of several organizations that provide email filtering services.

For marketers, this means that using email to contact cold prospects no longer works - email is not a push medium. People are unwilling to tolerate emails unless they have granted the sender explicit permission.

But when permission has been granted and confirmed, email turns into gold.

The "2012 Marketing Channel and Engagement Benchmark Survey" found 63% of respondents cited email as the channel with the best ROI.

Email was the channel most likely to get more investment in 2012. According to a survey of business leaders, 60% planned to increase their email marketing budget. Social media was the next most popular at 55%.

The Direct Marketing Association*** "2012 Response Rate Report" showed that "email has the highest return on investment (ROI) compared to other marketing channels. The ROI for email is $28.50 compared, for example, to just $7 for direct mail.

These numbers support the value of email.

But an email marketing list is still a closed system. For growth, you need a steady supply of fresh leads.


Social Media Plus Email Marketing

According to MarketingSherpa (2011), social media tops the list for trends most likely to affect an organization's email program. Email marketers are looking to develop relationships through email marketing and social media working together.


We recently updated last year's research which found that social sharing boosted email click-through ratio (CTR) up to 115%.

This year, the most important finding is that the CTR of the messages that included social sharing rose dramatically from last year. Our 2012 research shows that social sharing boosts email CTR by 158% compared to last year's 115%.

Social Media Plus Email Marketing

Business Trends

We wanted to see what changed over the course of the year for our customers. Here's what we discovered:

  • The number of users who include social sharing buttons in emails increased from 18.3% in 2011 to 29.4% in 2012 - clearly an upward trend.
  • And 90% of email marketers who included social sharing buttons included Twitter icons, almost twice as much as the year before.
  • Facebook was included by even more marketers; almost 99% included a Facebook share icon, an increase of over 8% compared to 2011.
  • A Linkedln sharing icon was included by 68.1% - seven times more often than the previous year!
  • The emerging social networks also did well Google+ was included by 42% and Pinterest by 46% of marketers who used social sharing.
  • Most marketers used three social sharing icons (39%). Four or more icons were used by 37%, two icons by 15% while only 11% stuck with only one sharing icon.
  • Social media sharing buttons are considered the third most popular email list growth tactic (MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Report 2012) just after a website registration page and offline events.
  • Social media is also the second most popular channel to integrate with email (78%) just after website (86%).
  • Organizations are increasing budgets on social media and email marketing. The 2012 social media survey found that 87% of social media marketers also use email marketing; 93% plan to maintain or increase their use of email.

The conclusion? Time to share!

Part Two: Tactics for Combining Email with Social Media

Now let's review the most popular sharing techniques used by smart email marketers who recognize the synergy social media can add.

First we'll discuss newsletter tactics you can implement to extend your marketing reach to new niche markets. Next well talk about social media tactics for building your email marketing list.

By the end of this whitepaper, you'll have a grab bag full of ideas to help grow your business profitably.

Newsletter Tactics

Here are easy ways to let your readers know that it's important for them to help share your message and create buzz for your brand.

Promote your social sites

Invite readers to join your network. Let them know the What's In It For Me (WIIFM) factor, such as - get more great deals, express opinions, and stay up-to-date.

Promote your social sites

Ask them to like or follow your social profile. Use icons or simply hyperlink the call to action.

Promote your social sites

Invite readers to join your network.

Dedicate one of your follow-up emails to inviting your subscribers to join your community. Tell them what they gain - news, opinion sharing, meet other users.

Promote your social sites

Invite subscribers to interact and share their opinion, not just follow what you do. After all, social media is about two-way communication.

Promote your social sites
Make it easy to share

Use preformatted social sharing icons to encourage recipients to promote your newsletter content. Link them to the web archive where the newsletter is available online.

Make it easy to share
Make it fun to share

People share newsletters they think their friends will enjoy. Entertaining content creates buzz, likewise special offers, contests, events and giveaways.

Make it fun to share
Make it fun to share
Tell readers what to do

Without a call-to-action (CTA) subscribers may not realize what they should do and whether you're asking them to follow your social profiles or share the message with others.

Tell readers what to do
Tell readers what to do
Tell readers what to do
Location, location, location

Hiding the buttons deep at the bottom is less effective than placing them in a prominent place "above the fold" with a great description

Top placement:

Location, location, location
Location, location, location
Size matters

The buttons need to be noticeable; otherwise they're not worth including.

Size matters
Avoid icon clutter

The more icons you include, the more difficult it may be for recipients to make a decision.

Avoid icon clutter

Find out where your audience is and link only to those sites. B2C audiences are often on purely social sites like Facebook and Pinterest. If your business model is B2B, your audience is more likely to be on Linkedln. Social share stats help you identify which sites work best for you.

Be cool enough to share

Readers are reluctant to share sloppy, unattractive newsletters, so keep your design standards high. You can use generic icons or customize them to match your brand.

Be cool enough to share
Be cool enough to share

The buttons need to be noticeable

Viral sign-up form

Your Thank-you page* is the perfect time and place to request sharing. After all, they feel good about signing up and may want to tell their friends about you.

To make it quick and easy, place social sharing buttons with suggested text for retweets and Facebook shares. Both social sharing buttons should link to a special landing page promoting your newsletter campaign.

Viral sign-up form
Measure your results

It's difficult to measure how much your audience loves your brand, but it's easy to count Likes, Tweets, Pins, Linkedln Shares and +1s. The GetResponse statistics panel shows total shares on various platforms.

Measure your result

Social Media Tactics

With a few exceptions, people don't flock to social sites to conduct business. They show up for fun! But is your business fun?

Well, any business can be fun. For example, there's a Facebook page for people in Brazil who love Flellman's Mayonnaise. As of this writing, it has 1,332,267 Likes! If mayonnaise can be fun, so can your business.

So get busy. Here's how.

Share newsletters on social profiles

When you send out a newsletter, share it on your Facebook and Twitter profiles to maximize its reach.
TIP: Place a subscribe link in your email so that people from outside your list can sign up.

Measure your result
Place a sign-up form on Facebook

Turn your fans into subscribers. To collect new sign-ups and get more Customers, use the unique link of your sign-up tab in your Facebook ads and share it across other social media channels, as well as in your timeline posts.

Place a sign-up form on Facebook
Social sign up

Allowing new subscribers to use their Facebook account when signing up for your newsletter has some serious advantages:

  • Signing up with Facebook is faster, so visitors are more likely to sign up.
  • Most people use their primary email address on Facebook. This increases the chances of your newsletters being opened and read.
  • Facebook friends see who signs up for your newsletter, providing social proof of the value of your newsletter.
  • Subscribers who are active on social networks are more likely to share your newsletters with others.
  • The GetResponse "social web form" lets you include additional custom fields to collect information you need.
Social sign up
Run contests

Contests engage your audience in a friendly and fun activity. And they can deliver a bonanza of customer data and feedback you can use to improve your campaign ROI.

Running them on social media minimizes costs, maximizes returns, and builds your email list.

Run contests

Signing up with Facebook is faster

Here are a few pointers for planning a contest.

Theme: This can be as simple as an enter-to-win drawing or as complex as a competition judged by experts.

Prize: It doesn't have to be an iPad, but it needs to be exciting enough to get people to submit an entry form.

Rules: Summarize the rules, policies, and restrictions on the entry form and link to full details. Let participants know exactly how and when the winners will be chosen and announced.

Capture email addresses: The contest is a newsletter sign-up incentive, so include the following on your entry form:
By providing your email address, you give [[your company]] permission to email you with product updates, articles and news. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Promote: Make viral participation your goal. Start by announcing the contest to your existing subscribers, blog readers, and social contacts. Give them fun information to forward to friends and share on social media. Create a schedule and promote regularly on Facebook, Twitter, blog, social channels and advertising media.

Here are a few pointers for planning a contes


Ideally, your email marketing and social media programs should work hand in hand. Social media sites are perfect for expanding the reach of your marketing message.

Email marketing is perfect for building a stronger relationship with new contacts. Here's a handy checklist to keep both programs on track:

Define your target
Don't waste time and resources on social media sites that don't deliver ROI. Create a profile of your ideal subscriber, then find the social sites where they like to hang out. GetResponse provides 6 social media share buttons to add to newsletters with just a click. But be selective and add only as many as you can manage effectively
Make sharing intuitive
Make the buttons visible - definitely "above the fold." Use a clear call to action that makes sharing a natural, logical next step.
Incentivize participation
Offer a contest, survey, charity - anything that's entertaining or promotes something important.
Define objectives
Don't broadcast everything everywhere. Instead, design separate content for each social site, your blog and newsletter. The goal is to build a community-within-a-community feeling that members will want to share. However, it's perfectly OK to cross-promote content from one medium to another, so your most loyal fans have multiple opportunities to interact with your brand.
Encourage two-way communication
Invite your newsletter subscribers to share comments, ideas, and opinions on your social media channels.
Make your social channel a place for a relaxed style of communication. This is especially important in B2B marketing, where communication can be stuffy.
Add a personal touch
Link to the real people behind brands. Exchanging views with a brand's decision -makers can be a buzz booster.


Why do people flock to social media sites? They want to connect with cool people who are doing fun, interesting stuff. And they subscribe to your newsletter for exactly the same reason.

So put people first - be fun, be interesting, be cool! That way, you attract people who actually like you. And when you do business with people who like you, things get so much easier.

Note: And speaking of likable people - when you need a word of advice, reach out to our Customer Success Team. They love to help you, anytime.

Questions? Get in touch!

We are always here to inspire and help, so don't hesitate to contact us if you run into any problems or have any questions along the way of your Email Marketing Success.