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Nearly 90% of Internet Users Share Content via Email According to Sharpe Partners' Study on Viral Marketing; Humorous Marketing Messages Are Shared the Most
[January 25, 2006]

Nearly 90% of Internet Users Share Content via Email According to Sharpe Partners' Study on Viral Marketing; Humorous Marketing Messages Are Shared the Most

NEW YORK --(Business Wire)-- Jan. 25, 2006 -- A study by Sharpe Partners, an award-winning interactive marketing agency, revealed that 89% of adult Internet users in America share content with others via email.

Sharpe Partners' study on viral marketing also found that 63% of the respondents share content at least once a week, with 25% sharing daily or almost daily, and as many as 75% of the respondents forward this content to up to six other recipients.

These results are good news for proponents of viral marketing, a self-propelling "word-of-email" technique in which a company sponsors - often with subtlety - entertaining or informational content that is forwarded from one email recipient to another, especially when living in an era when digital video recorders make it easy for consumers to skip traditional paid advertising.

Humor is Hot for Viral Marketers

In addition to highlighting the rampant frequency of content sharing, the study generated some interesting results regarding the type of content that is sent. The most popular content is humorous material, with 88% forwarding jokes or cartoons. The second most popular category is news (56%), followed by healthcare and medical information (32%), religious and spiritual material (30%), games (25%), business and personal finance information (24%), and sports/hobbies (24%).

For companies looking to employ a viral marketing program, the study found that adding overt brand messages only slightly reduces the likelihood that the content will be shared. 56% of the respondents are less or slightly less likely to forward such content, whereas 43% said they are more or slightly more likely to send marketing-related messages. Only 5% refuse to share content that contains a clear brand message.

As for the impressions branded content leaves on the respondents, it is clear that viral marketing is a low-risk approach. While the vast majority (75%) says that brand sponsorship has no impact on whether or not they will forward a message, 19% say that it actually has a positive impact whereas only 7% say that it is negative.

Profiling the Catalysts

The study found that the most likely person to share content - and share it widely - is a woman in her late 30's/early 40's who resides in the South or Midwest. Sixty-four percent of the female respondents share content at least once a week versus 58% of the males. Residents of the South (68%) and Midwest (66%) are likely to be more frequent forwarders than their counterparts in the West (58%) and East (55%).

Ethnicity is a factor as well. Blacks/African-Americans and Whites/Caucasians share content most frequently, with 63% sharing at least once a week, followed by Hispanic/Latin-Americans at 56%, and Asian-Americans at 46%.

The study also found that education is only a slight influence, with 64% of those without a college degree sharing weekly versus 61% with a college degree. Marital status, the presence of children, and household income did not prove to be factors, similar to the length of time someone has been using the Internet.


Sharpe Partners' Viral Marketing Survey was conducted online by Greenfield Omnibus from September 23-26, 2005. The respondents were 1,071 adults residing in the U.S. In addition to standardized demographic information, they were asked about the incidence and frequency of sharing content via email, the type of content shared, and attitudes regarding brand-sponsored content.

For high-resolution images depicting results, Journalists are invited to contact Adam Sohmer, 718-499-9161, [email protected].

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