The ability to forward an email to a friend is a powerful tool that can be used to gather more leads. The bonus being that the person forwarding the email is most likely a friend of the person receiving the email, thus aiding the credibility of your message. If you want your message to be heard by as many people as possible, we recommend adding this functionality to all of your emails being sent through SharpSpring.
Overview of Functionality
We will be adding a link within a SharpSpring email that directs to a landing page with a SharpSpring form. The referring lead then fills out the friend's email address as part of the form. That friend will be added as a lead in SharpSpring and then email will be sent to them. In order to get this done, we have to get some things set up first.
Things you will need:
- Landing Page for the form to be hosted on. This can be accomplished with either the landing page tool in Sharpspring, or your own site.
- Email to Forward with a Link to Landing Page. We'll need to make sure to add a unique UTM code to our link as well.
- Form with custom elements – these elements will be explained.
- Custom Field and Field ID – We will show where you can find the field ID.
- Task for identifying the Custom Field Change to a Specific Value.
- Action Group for sending the correct Email.
The following User Roles have access to add the forward to a friend link:
There are four parts to setting up the forward:
- Setting up the Form
- Building an Email
- Creating an Automation
- Running a Test
Setting Up The Form
Step One: Create the following two custom lead fields. If you need a refresher, click to review the article Creating Custom Fields.
- Forward Param: Make this field Visible in Contact Manager. Choose the field type Text input
- Forwarded By: Make this Visible in Contact Manager and an Email merge variable. Choose the field type Text Input.
NOTE: You can label these fields whatever you like, but a clear naming convention is suggested as it will help when you need to reference the fields later.
Step Two: Within the left Settings panel, under FEATURES, click Custom Fields.
Step Three: Find the custom field you created in Step One, then to the right of the name, click the Options button and in drop-down, select Copy fieldID to Clipboard.
Step Four: Create a SharpSpring form. If you need a refresher, click to review the article Creating a Form. All of the fields on this form will be referral fields. Add referral fields for Email and Forwarded By. Save the form and copy the embed code.
NOTE: You can add as many fields as you like. For the purpose of this articcle, we only included the required fields.
Step Five: Add two lines to the form embed code. The first line declares a variable that stores the parameter from the page URL. The second line sends that variable into the Forward Param field we created in SharpSpring.
Your form embed code will look similar to the below before our edits.
Here is an example of the form embed code with the two additional lines.
You can copy the entire line beginning var urlParam = window.parent.location.search.split('?'); and add this to your form embed code. For the line beginning ss_form.hidden you will need to replace the xxXXxxXXxx with the custom field ID we retrieved in Step Two. Once the ID has been added, copy this line and add to your form embed code.
Step Six: Add the edited form embed code to your website.
Now that the form is setup and on the website, build the email that will be sent to a forwarded friend.
Building Our Email
Step One: Create an email. If you need a refresher, click to review the article Creating and Editing Emails.
Step Two: Add a link to your email. You can use any text you like, but using Forward this Email and placing the link at the top of the email is best practice. This link needs to direct to the page of our website where to embedded our form. In addition, we need to add a unique parameter to the end of the url. In this example, we will use the parameter forward.
NOTE: You can name your parameter whatever you like. In fact, you can create multiple emails with different parameters that direct to the same page, and depending on the specific parameter, entirely different emails can be sent.
Example of how the link will appear
Step Three: If you would like for the name of the friend who forwarded the message to appear in the email, add the merge variable for the Forwarded By custom field we created earlier in the walkthrough. Be sure to Save your email.
Now that the email is created and linking to the page with the form, create an automation to bring it all together.
Creating Our Automation
Step One: Create an action group. You can have multiple action groups to forward various emails to leads, so use a naming convention that is scalable. For example, Forward Holiday Party Email. Choose the Contact Event send the email and select the email we created earlier. Save changes.
NOTE: Feel free to add other events, or set time increments to have events occur at the time of your choosing.
Step Two: Create a task by following the steps below:
- Add the Lead Actions Trigger for when a contact has the field.
- Select the Forward Param custom field created earlier and set the changes to the url parameter that you added to the link in the email.
- Change the drop-down that says exactly to included.
- Click Add Rule.
Step Three: Add the action group you created in Step One to the task. Save changes.
Now that the automation is complete, review what you have accomplished and perform a test.
Running a Test
To review the Forward to a Friend process and what you have built:
- Setup a SharpSpring form that uses referral fields to create a lead and stores a unique url parameter.
- Built an email that links to the page where we embedded the form, with a unique url parameter for the email.
- Created an automation to look for that submission of that unique url parameter, which then sends the email.
If you would like to test and confirm your Forward to a Friend process is working correctly, follow the steps below.
Step One: Create yourself as a lead record in your SharpSpring instance.
Step Two: Send your lead record the Forward to a Friend email.
Step Three: Open the email and click the Forward this Email link.
Step Four: Fill out the form. Use an alternative email with an inbox you can access.
Step Five: Visit the Contact Manager in SharpSpring and search for the email you used on the form. You will see a new lead record. View the memberships tab and you will see the Forward to a Friend action group, as well as the Forward to a Friend email under the lead's Email History.
NOTE: You can repeat this process as often as you like.