What is a pass-along rate?

Pass-along rate measures the percentage of people who pass on a file, message, forwarded emails, and web links, measuring word-of-mouth marketing. For print media, pass-along rates measure overall readership vs. circulation. Content generally includes entertainment and humor, shopping specials, technology, and late-breaking news. Basically, pas-along rate tells you the number of how many people that enjoyed your content will go on to tell their friends, family, and even coworkers to check out your content as well.

How pass-along rate works

  • 1. Internet makes it easy
    With email, texting, and social media, content can be forwarded in an instant to thousands. Pass-along rate measures how many people may have been forwarded a piece of content, including a link, email, or computer file.
  • 2. How they’re counted
    Pass-along rates can be measured by counting the original number of recipients of a piece of content and the total number individual views of the content. For example, if 100 individuals were sent an email message with a link, and the link received 200 unique views, the pass-along rate is 100 percent.
  • 3. Print publications
    By conducting reader surveys, publishers seek to determine the pass-along rate of their publications. While circulation of an individual publication might be 5,000 (number of subscribers), advertisers are interested in the total number of individuals who ultimately read it, which could be double or three times the subscriber number.
  • 4. Small-talk marketing
    In everyday small-talk, people love to talk about something new they’ve discovered or exciting and interesting things they’ve seen. By making your product or service the topic of this conversation, news spreads quickly, inspiring an interested “Hmm, really?” enticing the receiver of such information to not only dig deeper but also to tell others.
  • 5. Interaction vs. circulation
    Through pass-along rate law, interaction does not equal circulation, which can be confusing to many advertisers. Where you’ll find a somewhat reliable way to track circulation is through keywords on social media, where you can see who is speaking, where they’re speaking, and the traction picked up by their own followers.
  • 6. Around 2.5 readers
    The pass-along rate for businesses and publications is generally thought to be around 2.5 readers. Therefore, if your content’s circulation is 50,000 total readerships, you would multiply 50,000 and 2.5, resolving that your actual circulation is somewhere closer to 125,000 readerships.

Why pass-along rate matters

  • 1. Advertisers care
    Advertising funds a lot of publishing, and advertisers care most about how many eyes are going to see their ads. The online ad industry is driven by impressions, and pass-along rates capture the data helps advertisers understand their reach.
  • 2. Viral wins
    Mass email messages — newsletters, etc. — will often include an easy link so recipients can forward the message to friends. Companies that create content that gets passed along to others increase ROI and sell more products.
  • 3. Shapes strategy
    Organizations that capture pass-along rates better understand what their audiences want and can tweak content strategies accordingly. Content that evokes an emotional reaction is much more likely to be passed along by the original viewer.
  • 4. Non-scalable marketing
    Cheap and effective, non-scalable marketing is a sure way to receive all of the bang for very little buck. Having your services and/or goods praised by excited consumers adds a level of authenticity and positivity to a brand’s image.
  • 5. Word-of-mouth speed
    When people talk, their friends, family, followers, and passers-by all listen. Humans are curious and love to be in-the-know, so by sparking curiosity, people do their own research, which increases web-traffic and captures future clientele.
  • 6. Self-feeding
    The wonder of pass-along rate is it feeds off itself, constantly multiplying at an uncontainable rate reaching an unimaginable growth all on its own. Not that advertisers shouldn’t invest in hands-on spread, but pass-along rate spreads ads further than initially anticipated.

Pass-along rate best practices

  • 1. Surveys
    One of the ways that you can calculate the spread of a rough pass-along rate is through the usage of surveys. By creating a poll, you’re able to find a close percentage as to how many people are responding and positively spreading word without interference of controlled ads.
  • 2. Obvious USP
    The best way benefit off this form of marketing is by creating something with an obvious unique selling point that’s so exciting, different, and new that people feel like they have no choice but to tell others about it.
  • 3. Referral incentives
    An older, but still effective, practice when it comes to pass-along rate is offering incentives to those that refer a friend, family member, or colleague to an appointed site. Though this implementation isn’t considered completely natural, it does inspire people to spread the good word, while happily reaping the benefits.