Social Influence Benchmark Report. December 2009

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1 Social Influence Benchmark Report December 2009

2 PUBLISHED BY: StrongMail Systems, Inc. StrongMail Systems UK, Ltd 1300 Island Drive, Suite 200 Prospect House, Crendon Street Redwood City, CA High Wycombe, Bucks Telephone: (650) HP13 6LA Facsimile: (650) Telephone: +44 (0) Copyright 2009 StrongMail Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of the contents of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of StrongMail Systems, Inc. STRONGMAIL and the STRONGMAIL logo are registered trademarks in the United States, other countries or both. All Rights Reserved. StrongMail Systems UK, Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales at 5 New Street Square, London EC4A 3TW. Reg. No VAT # GB Trading Address: Prospect House, Crendon Street, High Wycombe, Bucks HP13 6LA.

3 Report Overview and Methodology During the third quarter of 2009, StrongMail aggregated reporting data from social media programs run across the StrongMail Influencer platform. Influencer is a solution that enables marketers to turn their best customers into a highly effective channel for new customer acquisition. StrongMail Influencer enables marketers to: 1. Identify the key influencers within their current customer base 2. Target those key influencers with socially enabled campaigns that make it simple and rewarding to become a brand advocate 3. Track the performance of socialized programs so targets, incentives and social channels can be optimized for enhanced brand recognition and ROI The detailed tracking within Influencer enables StrongMail to publish benchmark data that is drawn from the millions of sharing activities that take place across all the direct marketing programs run on the platform by its clients. Key Performance Indicators in Social Marketing In this inaugural Social Influence Benchmark Report, StrongMail will present sharing data around a variety of key performance indicators in social marketing, including: 1. Sharing channels most preferred by consumers 2. Sharing channels that generate the most viral reach 3. Sharing channels that drive the most actual conversions Sharing channels are defined as the options that a consumer has to share content with their extended networks. This report focuses on the following sharing channels: Facebook 3. Twitter 4. Blogs (via Blogger, Wordpress, personal links and embedded badges) 5. Other (MySpace and Bebo) StrongMail will release updated benchmark data throughout 2010 and work to identify trends in social influence marketing that will enable brands to invest in programs and channels that are proving to be the most engaging for the consumer and the most profitable for the marketer. 3 Social Influence Benchmark Report

4 Q Social Marketing Benchmark Results The Vast Majority of Consumers Prefer to Share Online Content via remains the grandfather of all social networks, accounting for more than 86 percent of all sharing activity within direct marketing programs in the third quarter of As is the most mature of all online social channels, StrongMail expects it to remain a preferred sharing vehicle for the near future. However, data suggests that is beginning to give ground to other sharing alternatives. Percentage of Sharing via Channel 90% 86% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 6% 4% 3% 1% 1% 0% Facebook Twitter Personal Embedded Other Links Badges MicroBlogging is the King of Viral Reach While may be the most familiar and well-used sharing channel, it significantly trails newer, Web 2.0 social channels when it comes to extending reach virally. Once a brand s influencer shares an offer or experience with their peer network, it is essential to track and optimize their friends engagement with the influencer s invitation. This allows a brand to determine the number of sharing events that occur within the influencer s social graph and ultimately determines extended reach of the viral program. 4 Social Influence Benchmark Report

5 Specifically, StrongMail measures how much each additional invitation extends the reach of the marketer s program. As shown in the chart below, the microblogging site Twitter leads the pack. Click-Through Rates on Peer Invitations 2,000% 1,800% 1837% 1,600% 1,400% 1,200% 1,000% 800% 600% 521% 627% 400% 0% 200% 0% 41% 223% 186% Facebook Twitter Personal Embedded Other Links Badges Twitter posts generate click-through rates of over 1,800 percent. That means that, on average, for every influencer that tweets a brand s offer, of their followers click on the tweet to learn more about the brand and the influencer s experience with it. Compare this to the 41 percent click-through rate on peer-to-peer s and you begin to get a sense of the opportunity inherent in motivating your best customers to advocate your brand on the social web. The incredibly high viral nature of Twitter makes it an ideal channel for marketers looking to develop and execute programs geared towards brand awareness or brand impressions. Marketers seeking to create buzz around new products, services or other offers should look to Twitter immediately as a critical element within the program. While the high click-through rates associated with Twitter were no surprise, the extremely high click-through rates associated with personal links and embedded badges were. These two sharing options allow influencers within a marketer s program to directly extract links or badges related to the program and include them on their websites or personal blogs. Influencers that choose to leverage personal links or embedded badges for sharing brand messages are considered key influencers, because they typically have an existing online following related to a specific vertical market or topic of interest (Hot Travel Deals, for example). Identifying these key influencers and motivating them to advocate on a brand s behalf is critical. 5 Social Influence Benchmark Report

6 Conversion on Click Activity from Peer-to-Peer Invitations 40% 36% 36.8% 32% 28% 24% 20% 20.5% 16% 12% 8% 4% 0% 3.2%.35% 8.9% 10.1% Facebook Twitter Personal Embedded Other Links Badges Conversions are the Ultimate Goal While sharing and click-through rates are good leading indicators of program performance, actual conversion (purchases, subscriptions, etc.) is the key component of many direct marketers social programs. Marketers have already started to accept the opportunity to extend program reach via social channels, but many remain skeptical about conversions and the ROI associated with them. According to the Q3 data gathered by StrongMail, these marketers have good reason to be skeptical of some social channels (e.g. Twitter), but they need to accept that others are already showing real promise. The chart above details actual Q3 conversion metrics from programs executed on the StrongMail Influencer platform. Conclusion There are a number of key takeaways from the Q3 data. First, marketers should understand that even though has the lowest impact on extending viral reach via social channels, peer-topeer s generate nearly twice the conversions of the next best performing social channel. should remain a critical component of a brand s social strategy, and marketers should look for ways to further target, incent and optimize socialized programs. Second, marketers need to quickly define and identify key influencers within their databases. Not only do bloggers help to accelerate reach by inserting personal links and badges into their online networks, but those links and badges actually convert at a higher rate than any other social channel, including Facebook. This supports StrongMail s belief that consumers are thirsting for insight from subject matter experts online and will base a significant amount of their purchase decisions around the actions of these key influencers. 6 Social Influence Benchmark Report

7 Finally, while offering the most extended viral reach for a brand, Twitter has almost no impact on conversions. Direct marketers should consider Twitter as a channel to create buzz and groundswell around their brands, but rely on , blogs and Facebook to drive conversions. We do expect to see the conversion metrics for Twitter improve as more consumers become familiar with the tool and learn to filter the vast amount of updates that flow through it daily. About StrongMail Influencer StrongMail Influencer enables marketers to extend the reach of their existing and online marketing campaigns into Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, blogs and other social channels. StrongMail Influencer creates an engaging, interactive experience that motivates consumers to share offers and information with their networks, and tracks multi-stage sharing behavior across social channels and . This enables marketers to track the true viral reach of their programs, down to the conversions generated from each brand advocate. StrongMail complements its Influencer technology with strategic services to identify key potential influencers and create compelling campaigns specially designed to motivate that audience. Using Influencer, companies have improved the performance of existing referral programs by 3X or more. About StrongMail StrongMail s online marketing solutions for and social media enable businesses to reach, engage and influence their target audience using the most powerful channels available to marketers today. StrongMail gives marketers the control and support they need to improve campaign performance, boost deliverability and lower costs, while also leveraging the power of social media to extend the reach of their campaigns and brand to new audiences. Combining an easy-to-use marketing application, high-performance delivery system, viral-marketing tool, social media integration, and a wide range of deliverability, strategic and supporting services, StrongMail makes it possible for companies with all levels of resources and expertise to take advantage of its proven solutions. Headquartered in Redwood City, CA, StrongMail s clients include global leaders across virtually every industry. To learn more about StrongMail, please visit or follow us online at or StrongMail Systems, Inc Island Drive, Suite 200 Redwood City, CA P F Social Influence Benchmark Report

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