Brand Advocates Choose Email Over Social For Referrals

SocialTwist-Distribution-of-Social-Sharing-New-Brand-Visitors-July2013SocialTwist has released the results of a study that spanned 18 months, 119 social marketing campaigns, and 3.2 million participating consumers. Designed to see how consumers interacted with its social referral program and progressed to becoming advocates, the SocialTwist study unearths a few interesting results with potentially broad implications. Perhaps the most interesting of those is that among the consumers who became advocates (by referring products or services to friends), a majority 55.4% chose to use email as their sharing channel, with Facebook following (41.8%) and Twitter (2.6%) mostly ignored.

The analysis covered campaigns from leading brands such as Western Union, Sara Lee and Kimberly Clark. The report shows that the brands reached roughly 3.2 million consumers running their campaigns that delivered deals and incentives, and that 19% of the social followers became advocates when encouraged via referral marketing programs. The amplification effect of the programs was quite impressive: those 19% who became followers (and numbered around 600,000) then referred products and services to more than 9 million social connections, boosting reach by 15 times. With 3% of those connections then becoming new customers, the end result was that the brands picked up close to an additional 10% of new customers from their initial 3.2 million.

But perhaps most surprising is that the social followers who referred the brands used email as their primary sharing channel. While some 85% of that their reach was obtained through Facebook sharing (as opposed to about 12% through email), more new customers were obtained through email (50.8%) than through Facebook (22%), Twitter (26.8%), Pinterest and LinkedIn (0.4%) combined.

As the researchers note, “marketers should avoid falling into perception traps – like email marketing is somehow vastly different from social marketing. Anything that connects consumers is social.” And in the case of email, it certainly seems to have the desired results.