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.
Implementing Forward to a Friend is divided into four sections:
- Setting up our Form
- Building our Email
- Creating our Automation
- Running a Test
Setting Up Our Form
Step One: Create two custom lead fields. Click here if you need a refresher on how to create custom fields in SharpSpring.
- Forward Param: Choose the field type Text Input. Make this field Visible in Contact Manager.
- Forwarded By: Choose the field type Text Input. Make this Visible in Contact Manager and an Email merge variable.
NOTE: You can label these fields whatever you like, but we do recommend a clear naming convention. It'll help when we need to reference the fields later.
Step Two: Retrieve the IDs for the Forward Param custom field.
- Navigate to Settings >> Custom Fields
- Find the Forward Param custom field
- Click the grey options gear located on the far right of the custom field
- From the dropdown menu, right click on Edit Field and choose the option to Copy Link Address
- Paste the link into a text editor, or a new brower tab
- Copy the string of numbers at the end of the link, this is the custom field ID
Step Three: Create a SharpSpring form. Click here if you need a refresher on how to create a SharpSpring 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 walkthrough, we only included the required fields.
Step Four: Edit our Form Embed Code. We are going to 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 Five: Add the edited form embed code to your website.
Now that our form is setup and on our website, let's build the email that will be sent to our forwarded friend.
Building Our Email
Step One: Create an Email. Click here if you need a refresher on how to create an email.
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. Save your email.
Now that our email is created and linking to the page with our form, let's now create an automation to bring this all together.
Creating Our Automation
Step One: Create our action group. We 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 our task by following the steps below:
- Add the Lead Actions Trigger for when a contact has the field
- Select the Forward Param custom field we created earlier and set the changes to the url parameter that we added to the link in our email.
- Change the dropdown that says exactly to included
- Add Rule
Step Three: Add the action group we created in Step One to our task. Save changes.
Now that our automation is complete, let's review what we have accomplished and perform a test.
Running a Test
Let's review the Forward to a Friend process and what we have built out:
- We setup a SharpSpring form that uses referral fields to create a lead and stores a unique url parameter.
- We built an email that links to the page where we embedded the form, with a unique url parameter for the email.
- we 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.