That's the expression. The older? Email advertising. It's just so 2010. The new? Social…networking, evidence, marketing.
Just examine the proliferation and popularity of social media platforms — Facebook alone has 1.94 billion daily active users — and the rising use of social advertisements. Facebook again leads the charge, earning $7.857 billion in the first quarter of 2017 from advertising revenue.
So, goodbye email. Hello everything social. That's the manner of the future.
But the thing is, nobody told email that it's past its prime. In actuality, it has been run circles around the rest of the advertising tactics.
The latest research says there are roughly 3.7 billion email users worldwide (makes Facebook look puny by comparison, no?) . We send a collective 269 billion emails each day, and that's predicted to hit just under 320 billion by 2021.
Email is far from obsolete. It's far-reaching. It's effective.
Worldwide email users is forecast to hit 4.1 billion by 2021. That's an yearly growth rate of 3%.
In a survey of retail professionals, 80%+ listed email promoting as the top channel for both retention and acquisition.
Email is 40x more effective for customer acquisition than Facebook and Twitter combined
Marketers generated 174% more conversions with email than social media
Email sees an average click-through rate of 3.57%, compared to 0.07% for Facebook and 0.03% for Twitter
86% of online consumers want to receive promotional emails at least monthly, 61% at least weekly, and 15% daily.
Email is where it's at. Still. It absolutely must be part of your advertising program.
~ Derek Halpern, Founder of Social Triggers
Harsh, but so very correct.
But here's the kicker: you can make your email marketing — a wonderful tactic all by itself — even better. In the email vs social debate, it's not an either/or option.
Use both. Together.
The Power of Social Proof
This is not an article on email marketing best practices, per se. There are loads of those out there. Instead, we're going to look at only one tactic. Just one often overlooked strategy you should be using with your email marketing.
Social proof. And it is a good deal more than just social media.
Together, it combines the power and effectiveness of email with the popularity and psychology of social proof. That's a dynamic duo.
Ever opt for a restaurant because of how many rave reviews it had on Yelp, or decided to subscribe to an online business because of the number of fans, likes, or followers they have?
To put it differently, people trust people, not ads or self-promotion. We want to see or hear or read about others using, enjoying, and succeeding with a product or service before committing to it ourselves.
It plays off our basic human need to belong. Our behavior is influenced by what the majority is already doing. We want in that group.
Social proof is so compelling that Robert Cialdini made it one of his six “weapons” of persuasion in his landmark book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.
You want to have that kind of strength in your email campaigns. And you can get it.
Email + Social Proof = The Social Email
Adding a dose of social proof to your emails is simple, and there are lots of ways that you could do it. Finding the right one is a mixture of research and testing on your audience.
Ratings, reviews, media logos, testimonials, endorsements, trust badges, shares, social counts, case studies, user-generated content, and more.
To get started, try these 4 workhorses and build from there.
Show Them the Numbers
Everyone gets numbers. Simple. Straightforward. In case you've got 207,000 subscribers, mention it. If 87% of first-time buyers become repeat customers, tell them. If users save an average of $73/week using your service, highlight it. In case you've got 22,000 clients, include it in your headline or subject line.
Impressive numbers establish trust, improve your credibility, and appeal to our sense of wanting to belong. Use it.
While you're at it, make it simple for them to share your email content by including social sharing buttons. Just keep it reasonable: 2-3 appears to be the sweet spot. Too much choice and they won't bother. Neil Patel saw a 29% decrease in sharingwhen he went from 3 to 5 sharing buttons.
What's the Word?
Reviews, ratings, and testimonials are the easiest and most effective way to leverage social proof.
Nearly 70% of Americans turn to review sites when making a buy decision, while 82% look for recommendations. Remarkably, 84% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
So include them at the bottom of your email. Use real photos of real people whenever possible. Link to favorable review websites.
You can even feed this machine by employing a “Review This Item” link in confirmation and receipt emails. 70% will leave a review if asked according to BrightLocal.
The Halo Effect
By including the names and logos of well-known brands that you work with or have used your product, media outlets that have featured you or your brand, or awards you've won, you can harness the power of the halo effect.
Because people already know and trust recognizable brand names and logos, they tend to have a higher, more positive opinion of you by association. And that typically means more conversions.
It's best to use logos that link directly to the corresponding article, press release, or website. Quicksprout saw their CVR dip by 9.9% when they removed logos from their site.
The more famous and favorable the logo or award, the stronger the halo effect for you. An “As Featured In” or “Awarded/Certified” blurb in your email signature shows them you're legit and can be trusted.
The Case Study Nudge
For more expensive purchases or lengthier commitments, you may choose to include a case study to give them an extra little push.
Case studies are social proof to the nth degree, your greatest hits, your best side to the camera and best foot forward. It shows exactly how real people or businesses are using your product to wild success in the real world.
Necessary for a one-time purchase of $25? Probably not. But a recurring monthly fee of $399? It provides the excess proof they may need to pull that trigger.
Entice them with a brief headline — “See how I increased ROI by 348% for John Doe” — and link to the case study in your email signature.
Getting It Done
Most email marketing solutions like MailChimp, SmartMail, and AWeber have tools and integration to make it simple. That's your best bet.
Plugins can aid with social counters, reviews, ratings, and social sharing.
Analytics can provide conversion and traffic numbers.
An email signature generator like these from Hubspot or Exclaimer can simplify including everything you want.
Use screen capture services like Skitch.
The tools are readily available. It's your choice to find and use them in these and other ways. Make it a core strategy on your email channel. Look to others for inspiration.
Exceedingly powerful and incredibly irresistible. That's the final result of email and social proof.