I attended the Email Evolution Conference in Scottsdale earlier this month. While I was there, I saw a shot up on a Powerpoint of an email that had social media tags in the header. I can't recall what the email was for or which tags they used (I think Facebook, Twitter, Digg.) but I emailed myself a note saying I should check it out. On the day we were to launch, I got into the code myself and added it, very last minute to the consternation of my team. Because it was last minute, I opted to just go with text. We had a "View online" pre-header already, so I took our F2F from the bottom as well as links to share on Facebook and Twitter.
At the bottom, I also added the Twitter and Facebook links to our existing Forward-to-a-Friend section. In the "Fight Night" presentation, one of the presenters (sorry, don't have my notes with me) said that they had a lot of success repeating the "hero shot" at the end, so I opted to add the Social Media options at the bottom as well, another chance to let people help publicize our newsletter to their circles of influence.
To see the online version of the newsletter, click here. (Abbreviated footer online doesn't contain some of the CAN-SPAM details like unsubscribe link, or link into account services and things like that.)
I consider this a successful test and we will continue to offer Social Media in our preheader (and footer) going forward. I don't have access to web statistics, but I do know that after one week, the open/render for the February newsletter is already 2% higher than January's (to date) and 9% more clicks. Social Media links represented 2% of the total links clicked so far in February. As a percentage of opens/renders, it was only about 1/3 of 1% so there's definite room for growth there (larger font size in pre-header? more obvious links? images? comfort level of our readers seeing it month after month?) but still, if each of these social links resulted in one or two additional clicks (and I would have to assume, the overall average would be higher), that could introduce our newsletter to thousands of new readers.
Our ESP does not offer an easy way to do F2F or View Online, so we don't offer it regularly with all of our outbound emails, but we do for the monthly newsletter because it is our premiere piece.
Not bad for about 45 minutes of research, coding and testing. I expect that when I have access to the website statistics that I'll see some great results there. Unfortunately, those numbers I won't be able to share. But I would recommend trying it in your newsletter and submitting your results back via the #eec tag on Twitter and to the Email Roundtable.