viralHaving a campaign ‘go viral’ would be a dream come true for most email marketers. Creating an email with such compelling content that your subscribers can’t help but share it the world over would be a true mark of success. However, creating a viral email is easier said than done, and if going viral is your only aim, you’re likely to lose sight of the main aim of your marketing campaign.

While there’s little chance of your average email marketing campaign being seen by millions of people the world over, there are a number of things you can do to encourage your subscribers to share your messages with their friends. This can be a simple way to grow your email list, increase visits to your site and improve sales.

Grow Your List

Before you even think about creating a potentially viral email, you need to make sure you have a high quality email list. If you send your email campaigns to a large number of people who are interested in your content, it’s only natural that some of them will want to share it.

There are a number of ways you can grow your email list, many of which you’ll already know about; having a sign up page on your website, putting links on social media, running a competition or offering a discount. Once you have sufficiently grown your list, you need to make sure you check it on a regular basis for inactive subscribers or ‘dead’ email addresses – you’re emails won’t be shared if no one is reading them!

Target the Right People

Once you have a good quality email list, it’s no good to just send the same email to every subscriber – not everyone will be interested in the same things or behave in the same way. You can segment your list based on subscriber behaviour, age, gender, purchase history etc. and target different emails to each section. This will help you create emails that will best match the interests of your subscribers. They will then be more likely to engage with the messages and share them with others.

Make Sharing Simple

Nowadays, the majority of marketing emails contain something like this at the bottom:

Nom Organics

Green Man Gaming

These buttons are designed to make it easy for your subscribers to share you messages via email or social media. However, they can easily be ignored tucked away at the bottom of an email – your subscribes will actively want to share the content (rather than be encouraged to share it).

You can give your subscribers a push in the right direction simply by asking them to share the email. Aweber include this on their email newsletters:

Here, they are encouraging their subscribers to share their messages, rather than just hoping they will by including links at the bottom. Sometimes, that is all it takes to improve the reach of a marketing email.

Incentivise Sharing

Sometimes, people want take the action that you want them to unless you give them something in return. Encourage your subscribers to share your messages by offering them an incentive.

In this example, Top Cashback are offering £20 for every friend you introduce to the service:

While not every company is able to pay people for sharing their message, there are a number of little things you can do to incentivise sharing. You can offer a discount (‘15% off for you and a friend), provide access to an exclusive whitepaper or ebook, or give additional entries to a competition for every share. Make sure it’s something that your company is able to provide and that your subscribers will respond to.

There’s no specific art to getting people to share your messages; it simply takes an understanding of the way email marketing works and how your subscribers behave. While your emails may not go viral the world over, by using these techniques, you will gradually see your reach grow and grow.