There are 2 types of email shares:

  1. “I’m sharing this because the content is so compelling.”
  2. “I’m sharing this because I need more input from some one else to take further action.”

I’m going to answer the question assuming that you’re looking for direction on achieving the former. Emails in the latter category are often transactional in nature — account updates, password resets, payment information, shipping notifications, or receipts.

An email forward is a signal that you’re fulfilling and probably exceeding subscriber expectations with the content of your message. This is a wonderful goal for any email marketer.

Here’s a basic framework for achieving that goal:

  • Exceptional Content – Create content that is so remarkable, so irresistible.. that email recipients have no choice but to share with their family, friends and co-workers. Deliver a promotion so amazing that people feel like they are sharing a “can’t miss” opportunity. Build urgency by making the opportunity time sensitive or expiring.
  • Segment, Segment, Segment – The likelihood of forwarding increases as a function of how well your content matches audience expectations. The smaller the audience you can target, the better the audience <> content fit, the more likely a forward will occur. Segmentation is your primary vehicle for achieving this fit. You can segment your list based on past purchase or browsing behavior, geography, demographics, or custom parameters that matter for your constituents. The point is that a “batch and blast” approach will hinder your ability to generate forwards because it assumes that all subscribers are the same. They will prove you wrong by ignoring your message.
  • Compelling Experiences – Pushing the experiential limit of what’s possible in the inbox is a great way to generate forwards. Email marketers who incorporate interactivity, personalization and humor into their campaigns create a higher likelihood that recipients will share what they’ve received. Here’s a great example of interactivity from the fine team at Burberry: Burberry’s Interactive Scarf Personalizer Email
  • Ask for Forwarding – In the right situation, overtly ask recipients to share your campaign within their networks. Successfully incorporating the three strategies above will drive natural shares, but sometimes people just need a little extra nudge.

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Mike Arsenault
Mike Arsenault is the Founder & CEO of Rejoiner. He works with 350+ online retail & eCommerce companies like Hydroflask, Footjoy, GUESS, and Big Chill to help them grow faster using lifecycle email. He also once lived aboard a 36' sailboat in Boston.