Consider Removing the Share Buttons from Your Email Newsletters

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Disclaimer: I am not an email marketing expert. This post was inspired by observations with my own email marketing campaign.  If your email newsletter uses your blog post content, then consider testing this!

What I am going to suggest might go against every tenet of social email marketing anyone has every suggested—what if you took the social share buttons OUT of your email newsletters? I can hear the arguments already starting—“share buttons encourage engagement with recipients,” “social share buttons let my network do the content promotion for me,” “share buttons help my content get seen by more people” and so forth.

Now, I’m not saying we should so away with social share buttons entirely. I think share buttons on a blog are incredibly important, both from an SEO and user experience point of view. If a visitor wants to share a blog post, of course I want to make it as easy as possible for them to so even. Even removing one or two clicks in the process can make a big difference in how many times a blog post or article gets shared on the various social sites. And we all know that the more times a piece of content is shared the more valuable it becomes in the eyes of the search engines (thanks to social signals) and the better it will do in the SERPs. Whenever I start working with a client that doesn’t have share buttons on their blog that is one of the first recommendations I make.

But I’m not taking about share buttons on your blog; I’m talking about the share buttons in your email newsletters.

A few months ago I toyed around with the idea of removing share buttons from my company’s email newsletters, just to see what would happen. I use our company (Brick Marketing) blog posts as the content in my email newsletters as the point of the newsletter is to share useful SEO related information with my audience, give old blog posts a second chance at life and drive more traffic to my blog. I was worried that without the share buttons my newsletters wouldn’t get a much traction, but I decided to test it for a few weeks, just to see what would happen.

After a few email newsletters had gone out I checked out the numbers and was pleasantly surprised by what I saw—the blog posts were getting more shares than they had ever gotten before! I realized that the social share buttons in the newsletter weren’t doing me that much good. I wanted readers to share the individual blog posts because that had more SEO value for my site in the long run. Sharing the newsletter was still good because it introduced my brand to a bigger audience, but my site wasn’t reaping the benefits of those social shares. Since the newsletters are stored in an archived subdomain on the email marketing company’s site, my blog wasn’t the one getting the links and share signals. But, by removing those share buttons from the email, people that wanted to share my content could directly share the blog post. I made it the only way they could share, and even if that meant fewer people were sharing the newsletter as a whole, my blog was getting the extra links!

Taking the social share buttons out of your email newsletters might not be the best idea for every company. For instance, if you send out a promotional email you want people to share that offer directly with one another, so share buttons make a lot of sense. In my case, I wanted to get readers sharing the content that was within the newsletter, not necessarily the newsletter itself. By removing the share buttons, I ensured that people who wanted to share my content could only do it in a way that directly benefitted my blog.

I’m not saying this will work for every company, but it might be worth a test!

Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing, a full service Boston SEO firm. With nearly 13 years of experience in the Internet Marketing industry,... Read Full Bio
Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis
Nick Stamoulis

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  • Pieter van Diggele

    Why don’t you configure the share buttons in your emails to share the original articles on your blog, instead of the newsletter itself? That way you will benefit from email shares in terms of SEO.

  • Kevin Hobbs

    Hey Nick, great post, I never looked at social share buttons in this way before on my newsletters, it makes so perfect since. Thanks for the great TIP…


  • Tim Watson

    Hi Nick, I do nothing but email marketing 24/7 and have done for over 8 years, so I have fair claim to being expert. I can tell you that what you have seen in your own campaigns is not so usual and very valid.

    In many cases social icons in emails get less clicks than the unsubscribe link.

    The issues are
    – Its the wrong time to be asking for the share. The email is to get the click to the real destination. The customer won’t be ready to share until they have seen what is being promoted, ie the landing page (blog post).

    – The share buttons often have weak call to action. Getting a social share is no different to any other call to action. Throw in an icon and just hope people click is not a strategy.

    – The difference between share and like is poorly made

    I wrote more about social share in email here:

    Which in summary says make the icons work or get rid of them (if you can’t).

  • Graphics Overlay

    Its been a great experiment I also would like to try this..Thanks!!

  • DJ Waldow

    I would agree 100% with Tim on this one.

    To me, the biggest reason folks don’t share an email is b/c marketers tend to just slap the icons in their newsletters and hope someone clicks.

    As Tim says … “The share buttons often have weak call to action. Getting a social share is no different to any other call to action. Throw in an icon and just hope people click is not a strategy.”

  • Darren L.

    just to be clear, did you put the entire content of the article within your email, or did you stub the paragraphs, so to finish the article, readers had to click through to your site anyway?

  • Nick Stamoulis

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for reading, your comment and sharing the additional information! Glad to hear I am not the only one experiencing this with our email newsletter.

    Thanks again!

  • Shelly Watson

    Nice article. I’ve read many article on integrating share button into emails or newsletters, and this is the first time I met an article asking us to remove those share button from emails. Interesting.

    Mostly I think you are right. It depends on what kind of emails you send to your contacts. For some kinds of emails, such as emails introducing event, or offering discounts, share buttons are useful and important.

    Then it comes to how to design emails with share buttons. Here are some best practices for social sharing in emails.