I recently came across Contactlab’s European E-mail Marketing Consumer Report 2010 and found some very interesting statistics regarding the content sharing behavior of European email users. It’s a large report at 40 some pages, but a few questions about sharing newsletter content via social networks caught my eye and I wanted to briefly touch on that subject here.

When asked if they had ever shared a newsletter with friends on a social network, the overwhelming response was negative with 73% saying no, they hadn’t. Breaking down 27% who did share by country, Italy had the highest percentage with 41% while the United Kingdom and Germany were at the bottom with 17% and 15% respectively.

When those who did share a newsletter via social were asked why, 59% stated they shared the newsletter content via social because it was interesting. The next most popular reason for sharing was a discount offer which ranked number one among 36%.

Nice to see that at least among the Europeans surveyed here, the main reason to share was because the content of the newsletter was interesting, meaning it was relevant to them. Perhaps even a good discount offer isn’t going to trump relevancy when it comes to sharing something from a newsletter.

Encourage sharing by making your content relevant and the sharing easy

What about the reasons for not sharing an email marketing newsletter via social? When asked that question, 59% stated they don’t like distributing promotional messages. Even more intriguing was the second most stated reason for not doing it; not knowing how. Of those surveyed, 17% said they didn’t know how to share content from a newsletter via social. When it was broken down by country, the highest percentage was in the U.K. at 26%, followed by users in Spain and Italy at 22% and 20% respectively. At the other end of the scale, only 5% of Germans reported the same issue.

Obviously we’d all love people to share our content, but are email marketers really encouraging people enough? All you really need to do is ask people to share your newsletter on social just as you would ask them to forward to a friend. Of course, this requires that your emails are rich with relevant and engaging content which people would just love to pass along.

It all seems reasonably straight forward here:

  • Produce newsletter content which is relevant and engaging which makes people look good when they share it with friends.
  • Ask people to share your content by working the invitation to do so wherever it fits in your newsletter.
  • Have sharing buttons displayed prominently in your newsletter. Put them at the top, bottom and even after each piece of sharable content.

No matter what you do, there’s no guarantee people will share your newsletter content with friends via social media, but it’s a good bet they won’t if you don’t bother to ask.

More about (social and email) content sharing.

Originally posted on Social Email Marketing and moved as part of a topical integration of our blogs.