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How often have you read an article and thought ‘I’m going to forward this on to xxxx’/I know someone who would be interested in this…’? Using the forward to a friend (FTAF) functionality within your email program is an ideal opportunity for growing your database.

Due to this years’ economic climate, data acquisition has been much less of a focus for many companies, with efforts being placed on optimising the potential of existing databases through retention models and organic growth. Using FTAF as a simple call to action within your regular newsletter, means that for no additional cost you are facilitating the action for an existing customer to help you grow your database through their network of friends, family and colleagues. Examples of campaigns we have worked on have seen significant results of more than 2000 new subscribers within 2 weeks!

Using FTAF as a link/call to action within the template allows you to measure the performance of the campaign and respondents, whereas simply forwarding cannot be tracked in the same way. With FTAF you can use this information to build loyalty programs for customers who are interacting through a variety of offers such as sneak previews of new product ranges, fashion collections, voucher offers etc…

Despite the low cost and ease of implementing this solution, there are many companies, retailers in particular, who are still missing the opportunity of including a FTAF link, or perhaps are using it but not in the most effective way.

The busiest time of year is about to begin so I thought I would take a couple of examples of companies with target groups of women in the 18-40 range, who are highly responsive groups for purchasing in the run up to the Christmas party season and are more than likely to forward articles on to their friends if you provide them with the tools to do this.

Oasis F2AF

1. Oasis: In the top right hand corner there is a clear call to action with a FTAF button. Remember that many customers don’t have the time to open all their emails and more often than not use the preview pane, so don’t forget to get your strongest messages in the top section of your email. Oasis is also making good use of the image below the navigation bar, where there is a clear call to action that the Christmas collection is now available.

Once I have clicked on the FTAF button, I am taken to a fully branded Oasis page where I can fill in up to 8 friend’s contact details, plus I can enter a personal message which increases the personalisation making my friend(s) far more likely to engage with the brand.

Dorothy Perkins F2AF

2. Dorothy Perkins: Despite having great content and a clear call to action at the top of the email with a Free Delivery and Discount Offer, at no point is there any link for me to forward this email to a friend. In this email they are talking about new shoe and dress collections plus a focus on Breast Cancer, all things that I would want to share with my friends, but leaving me to use outlook to forward on to my friends gives Dorothy Perkins no visibility of my behaviour or the network I am sharing this with.

Avon F2AF

3. Avon: They have done really well with their re-brand over the last year.  As with Oasis, they have a clear call to action with a Refer a Friend button in the top right hand corner of the email and this takes me through to an easy to follow page that again allows me to personalise the message I am sending to my friends. One minor point is that it can be off putting to have too many cells to fill in; I suggest 5-8 fields as opposed to 20 as shown here.

Clarins F2AF

4. Clarins: A very popular brand when considering Christmas presents for friends and any female family members (in fact I do know a few guys who don’t sit too far from me that will consider treating themselves to a few Clarins products!). They are using the FTAF button, but it sits below the fold of the email – so my attention isn’t drawn to it as soon as I open the email, or if I am viewing it in a preview pane. However, it’s good to see they have a fully branded FTAF page and the option for a personal message.

So to summarise… As you can see there are some brands who are spot on with their use of the FTAF and others who are completely missing the opportunity. Where does your company sit??

Here are a few points to consider:

  1. By using FTAF you can identify your loyal base and bond with them, they are more likely to continue to share with their friends if they feel they are getting something in return from the brand
  2. Remember a friend who has been recommended is more likely to convert to being a real customer
  3. Make the customer journey as easy as possible. Many ESP’s offer FTAF, but as a standard this is non-branded. Make sure you brand your page to increase loyalty
  4. Remember to thank your customer for sharing the message with their friends
  5. Using FTAF is great as a quantitative measure, to track individual customer behaviour, however don’t forget to use your own blogs, communities etc… as a qualitative measure to see what people are saying in the public domain about your brand.

If you would like further information on using this solution, or examples of live campaigns, don’t hesitate to comment or give eCircle a call.

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