Viral Email Marketing Tips

Hannah Hicklen

Viral email marketing can expand your reach and grow trust in your brand. In this article, learn how to create shareable content that your users want to share with their network.


Updated September 21, 2022

99% of consumers check their email every day, making email marketing one of the most effective ways for companies to promote their brand. However, businesses can get even more out of their email marketing efforts by creating shareable content that users forward to their friends. 

While most email marketing campaigns are aimed at converting leads, viral email marketing can help businesses boost their reach. 

These campaigns are particularly valuable because people trust recommendations from their friends. In fact, 84% of people say word-of-mouth recommendations are more trustworthy than other advertisements or marketing tactics. 

A forwarded email is similar to sharing on social media, but is more likely to convert because it’s more personalized. A friend has to send the email directly to someone they believe will get value from the content, and therefore, is considered to be a more legitimate recommendation. 

Your business can optimize your email campaigns by creating content that your subscribers want to share with their friends and followers.

Here are 4 tactics to get your email marketing to go viral and increase open rates within your email list: 

Hire a trusted agency to assist with your email marketing strategy. 

Feature Exclusive Offers

Exclusive offers encourage email subscribers to act fast to get a deal. While this is valuable to your existing customers and target audience, it’s also valuable to their friends and family who they might know are also interested in your products or services. 

Sales and promotion emails can provide a type of social currency. According to a New York Times survey, one of the reasons why people share content is to help grow and nourish relationships. In other words, people share valuable information with their friends or through social networks in order to build a bond.

Imagine this: two friends are talking about their upcoming travel plans. One of them is going on a week-long hiking trip, but needs new hiking shoes. A few days later, the other receives this email from Backcountry, and activewear and outdoor gear retailer: 

Backcountry exclusive offer

This email features a special promotion offering a 15% discount. Knowing their friend could miss out on this sale, they forward the email to them and tell them to use their promo code. In doing so, they build a rapport about the brand and form a connection about a shared interest. 

Use Humor 

Laughter may be the best medicine, but it’s also the best marketing tool. Marketers have always pandered to their audience's emotions to drive sales, but humor specifically can do wonders for your brand. 

By creating content that makes your audience laugh, you can build positive brand association and encourage customers to share your content. In fact, Americans are more likely to share funny content than important content. 

For example, Function of Beauty, a hair care company, used a funny picture of a static-shocked cat to make their audience laugh and get their attention. 

Function of Beauty humor example

Source: SleekNote

What’s not to love about a cat with bed head? The image also acts as a segue into content about their specific products. They explain that their customers can avoid looking like this cat by using Function of Beauty’s restorative hair care treatment. 

Businesses can use memes and other viral content to create a dynamic and effective email. 

Include a Deadline for Exclusive Offers

Timelines and countdowns spark a sense of urgency among buyers. Why not use email to spark this urgency as well?

By highlighting a countdown in your promotional content, customers feel like they need to make a purchase right away, but it also makes users want to send it to their friends too. 

This is particularly effective for promoting events and increasing hype. For example, imagine that a group of friends have talked about getting highly sought after tickets for a concert coming to their area. 

One of the group members likes to plan ahead so they’ve already bought the tickets, but none of their friends have yet. If they receive an email with an eye-catching subject line that has a countdown for a deal, they may feel the need to encourage their friends to finally purchase the tickets. 

In this countdown, Synapse highlights how much time is left by using a large font and graphics that tick by like a clock. 

Synapse countdown example

Source: Moosend

Every time that a user opens their email, they will see a live countdown showing the days, hours, minutes, or seconds until the offering expires. With the seconds ticking by before their eyes, they know that their friends only have a limited time to save. 

Use CTAs That Invite Users to Share

It never hurts to ask your customers to share your content. Use calls-to-action to encourage your audience to share your content and get your message out to more people than you think. 

Instead of simply asking your subscribers to forward emails, consider including social media buttons too. The content that was originally developed for email can just as easily go viral on social media. 

For example, HubSpot included social media buttons at the bottom of their email with the CTA “Spread the Word!”

HubSpot example

Source: HubSpot

They even added an email button instead of just social media icons. With this additional email feature, sharing content is just one click away. This makes it incredibly easy for your audience to share your content online.

Hire a content marketing agency to provide expert marketing tips. 

Grow Brand Awareness with a Viral Email Marketing Campaign 

By creating email content that users want to share with their network, digital marketing agencies and email marketing consultants hope to improve brand awareness and expand their reach. 

Many people share content to enhance their personal relationships and form stronger bonds. Businesses can take advantage of this by creating shareable email content.

By featuring exclusive offers and adding countdowns to your content, you can create urgency that makes users want to act quickly. Often, they will forward your emails to their friends and family that they know are also interested. 

You should also use humor to grab their attention and increase the likelihood of your content being shared. 

Finally, use CTAs and social media buttons to encourage users to share. While sharing via email is one way to go, your content can also go viral online. By doing this, you make it extremely easy for your followers to recommend your business. 

The most successful viral email marketing campaigns put humans first – think about that when drafting the best emails. 

Additional Reading:



Hannah Hicklen

Hannah Hicklen is a Senior SEO Specialist that supports content and research efforts for Clutch.
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