Emma staffers explain when & why they share emails with their social networks
I imagine you don't know this about me, but I've got a soft spot for furry four-legged critters. So every time that I get an email marketing campaign (like this one) full of cute, adoptable dogs, you can count on it being something that I share with every social network that I'm on.
Extra special email campaigns and causes seem to rise up, grow a pair of legs and earn a new life outside of the inbox.
The inclination to share hits everyone differently, so I spoke with four of Emma's social-savvy staffers to find out what makes them click the share button. Read on to see if you can spot a trend or two.
Jamie: I'm a big fan of giving back, whether it be to a cause on the world stage that strikes a chord with me or an adorable little leaguer going door-to-door selling candy bars for new uniforms.
Email is an invaluable tool for nonprofits to quickly and effectively raise awareness in a fast, cost-efficient and attention-grabbing way online.
So, as a recipient, I'm very likely to spread the word to my social networks if there's an immediate need, like a call for last-minute volunteers or emergency donations. Hitting that share button never felt so good!
Patrick: In short: relevance. Whether it's a sale at a shop, an upcoming event, a news article or a video I know my friends and followers will find hilarious, it has to be fully relevant for the people to whom I'm sharing.
If you're reaching me directly with information that's actually suitable to me, then one can assume that my social network friends and followers are – for the most part – like-minded and would appreciate receiving the same information.
Cliff: I usually share an email if it strikes a chord with me personally or professionally. If it's something that I feel a part of or something that inspires me, I'll share it.
But, before sharing anything on a social network, I always ask myself a couple of questions, such as "Does this post represent me?" and "Would my friends and followers find it interesting?" If my answers are "yes," then I'll share. I also ask myself questions like, "How many is too many when it comes to pictures of my dog?" and "Should I cool it with this many karaoke updates?" My filter tends to be stricter for the first two questions ... (Want to see a picture of my dog, Sir Henry Wiggles? Thought so.)
Seth: My reasons for sharing an email via a social networking site are largely content-driven.
Being a bit of a design nerd, for me that means anything design-related that I think is noteworthy and cool, and anything I think that people who have similar interests (the people I most frequently communicate with via the interwebs) might enjoy as well.
This may mean different things for different people – music-related news for the audiophiles and cat pictures for, well, pretty much everyone. Essentially anything I find interesting or informative is likely to make its way onto someone else's feed.
Making your emails more sharable …
Wish more folks were sharing your emails on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Here are a few quick tips:
Create a purposeful call to action in your email prompting your subscribers to share with their friends and social networks. You can even sweeten the deal by rewarding those power sharers. (Never hurts to ask, right?) Learn how to turn on social sharing for your emails.
Design a subscriber preference center, and give your audience the ability to choose what sort of content they want to be receiving.
In many ways, content strategy is about finding the most effective and memorable ways to tell your story. And the inbox is an ideal place to do just that. The problem is, most companies send promotion after promotion, and they forget they’ve got a bunch of real humans out there just waiting for something worthwhile to show up. They forget to make things personal. They forget to make things interesting. Eyes glaze over. Expectations are lowered. Emails get deleted.
That’s a shame because email really is the genre everyone reads — inbox-checking is some kind of national pastime at this point, somewhere between baseball and apple pie. And if someone is on your list, they’ve invited you to their inbox. You’ve made a connection with them (yay, you!). So don’t become one of those automatically deleted emails. Engage those folks. How? Craft your campaigns with a story in mind. When you tell a story instead of just selling a product or promoting a cause, your audience tunes in.
Three ways to tell a story about your company
Tell a slice of your story
You know those email campaigns that are so broad they basically mean nothing? They may say something like, “Introducing our new collection: We have something for everyone!” or “It’s springtime, so come back and visit!” Yeah, don’t do that. It doesn’t give your audience anything concrete to think about. Instead, pull out one particular glimpse of who you are.
That’s exactly what the store Anthropologie does with this dreamy slice of an email. Before this campaign arrived one day, I didn’t know I wanted to “indulge in a land of lemon and cardamom.” But I do now, officially and forever. I’ll admit that I think about this email nearly every time I walk past (or, more likely, walk into) one of their store locations. Instead of selling clothes, those Anthropologie spell-casters lured me in with a story. Does everything they sell have something to do with lemon or cardamom? Definitely not. It’s a hook, and a poetic hook to boot.
Stories aren’t math, but they do add up over time. And, as my closet will attest, stories sell clothes.
Hint at a story that could unfold
Let’s say you sell scarves. You could send an email with pretty pictures of your scarves. Sure, why not? You could announce that you’re selling your scarves for half-price. Sounds fine. But your readers have likely seen pictures of scarves before, unless they’re living in some kind of dystopian society where the vampire overlords have outlawed scarves. (Note to self: Write next teen novel sensation with vampire twist. They no longer sparkle, but they hate scarves!) And they’ve also likely seen scarves on sale before. Again, unless … oh, never mind.
But what if you think of the scarf as more than a product? What if your audience could see themselves enjoying that scarf? You could create a stylish how-to video that shows how to tie that scarf and look like a sophisticated Parisian. Or you could take pictures of your customers wearing your scarves around town. Either way, you’re setting a story in motion.
Latch onto a bigger story to be relevant
The most obvious kind of relevance happens every time Valentine’s Day or any other holiday rolls around. But you’re not limited by the calendar when it comes to connecting what you do with whatever’s happening in the world. You can also look to current events. When everyone in the entire world seemed to be talking about the royal wedding last year, Saveur food magazine emailed tips and recipes for hosting a British afternoon tea. When legendary chef Ferran Adria announced he was closing his restaurant in Spain, one travel magazine included trip itinerary ideas for Barcelona in its weekly email a few days later.
By finding a connection to what’s already on their minds, you’re giving your audience a way to participate in whatever the bigger story is — you’re tapping them into the zeitgeist. They’ll appreciate you for that, and they’ll remember that you’re a warm human, not just a sender of emails with one promotion after the next.
So what's next?
Set aside some time to think about the stories hiding amidst the products or services you offer. Help your audience experience what you’re all about, instead of telling them. This extra effort will give your audience a reason to pay attention — because, as everyone knows, even scarf-hating vampires find a good story irresistible.