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Getting Subscribers to Forward Your Emails: 5 Secrets


In our Viral Email report, we analyzed more than 400,000 email campaigns, examined the most forwarded ones, and identified the tactics and topics that positively and negatively affected forwarding behavior. Three of the major takeaways revealed in the study are:

  1. Sending focused content to a subset of your subscribers using segmentation and triggered messaging generally doubles the forward-to-open rate.
  2. Personalizing content makes it more share-worthy.
  3. When subscribers see “share with your network” calls-to-action, they also interpret them as “forward to a friend” calls-to-action.

However, in the course of sharing the report’s findings in our Salesforce Connections session and talking to reporters about it, we realized that there are two more keys that we didn’t include in the study.

In my first monthly column for Marketing Land, I reveal these additional keys to increasing forwards:

  1. Single-subject emails are more sharable.

We believe this design consideration influences forwarding because forwarders don’t want to have to explain what in the email the forward recipient should pay attention to. If the email is about one thing, then there’s not much to explain.

  1. Simplicity spurs forwards.

The email campaigns that were forwarded the most were generally very simple visually, with clear message hierarchies and concise copy. That’s not to say that many of these messages couldn’t have benefited from a bit of polishing up, but it’s clear that a simple message clearly communicated is powerful in spurring forwards.

For a full discussion of all five of these viral email secrets, read the entire article on

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Chad S. White

Chad S. White

Chad S. White was the Research Director at Litmus