Why Email Still Beats Social Media Marketing
Marketing strategist Ian Brodie explains why, for all the buzz around social media marketing, your email list is still your most valuable asset.
As a business owner, it sometimes feels like you’re a character from the Discovery channel’s hit show “Gold Rush” — shedding blood, sweat, and the occasional tear to try to hit the mother lode. With limited time and money you need to place your bets on a small number of seams to mine, hoping that at least one of them will pay off.
In business it’s the same. These days you’ve got more marketing options than you could ever possibly manage. And every marketing strategy has its own guru proclaiming his or her pet strategy is the future of marketing (and of course, offering to sell you a training course or coaching program to help you master it). And sometimes, faced with this barrage of claims for the next big thing, we often overlook the nuggets of gold lying at our feet. Or perhaps hidden just below the surface.
In business, those nuggets of gold are the contacts and clients on our email lists.
Amidst all the sound and fury about social media and the latest technologies, it can be easy to ignore good old email. It seems so, well . . . old. But the truth (as Merkle reported in their report “The View from the Digital Inbox”) is that email is still by far our preferred method of business communication.
Think about it for yourself. You may chat on social media. You may initiate connections there. But when you want to get down to business you use email.
In fact, if you look at what the social media gurus do, rather than what they say, a rather interesting picture emerges. In a recent blog post, I looked at the home pages of a bunch of social media experts — from Facebook to Pinterest to LinkedIn. On every home page, the thing they prioritized wasn’t connecting with them on social media, it was joining their mailing list.
They all recognize the power in being able to communicate directly and proactively to potential clients and customers — rather than hoping they’ll spot your latest tweet or status update if they happen to be logged in at the right time (and the latest social media algorithm deems it okay to show the post).
Understanding Why Email Works
If we can understand why email is such a powerful marketing tool, we can understand how best to use it. And to do that, I’d like you to forget email or any other online marketing for just a second. Think back to how marketing used to be done in the “real world” (and still is for most businesses).
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To make initial contact with potential clients we used to get referrals, do presentations, go to networking events, write articles, use telemarketing, advertise or a bunch of other tactics. And what happened then? Well, if we wanted to turn that initial contact into a paying client, then we followed up.
Good follow up has always been the hallmark of successful business developers. Depending on your particular business, it might take two, four, 10, or more contacts before someone becomes a client. Partially because when you first connected with them, they weren’t ready to buy yet. And partially because the more valuable (and expensive) the products and services you sell, the more you need to build credibility and trust before your potential clients will be ready to buy.
So you follow up. You call them. Send them something useful. Meet up for a coffee. Connect them with someone useful. Invite them to an event.
Online it’s no different. Before someone is going to fork out the big bucks to buy your product or hire your services you need to establish credibility and trust. And the timing needs to be right for them.
Yet if you look at your website stats, you’ll find that somewhere north of 60-70% of visits to your site are new visitors rather than returning ones. In other words, the vast majority of visitors to your website visit once, but then never come back. And if they’re not coming back, you’re not having those multiple contacts needed to build credibility and trust. You’re not going to be top of mind when the time is right for them.
That’s where email marketing comes in.
Why Email Marketing Is Where Smart Businesses Put Their Time and Money
Email marketing is the perfect vehicle for follow up. You can send useful content. You can ask for input. You can inspire with a case study or example.
And most importantly, you’ve got control of the process. You’re not relying on your subscribers to log in to Twitter or LinkedIn at the right time. Or for Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm to allow your message through.
Build a reputation for sending useful material. Write an enticing subject line. And your email will get read and acted on.
Still not convinced? Try the following:
- Ask any successful online marketer what their greatest asset is and undoubtedly they will tell you it’s their email list. Or perhaps their relationship with their email list.
- Check with anyone who does regular webinars where the vast majority of their registrations come from: emails.
- Look to the numbers. A recent 18-month study by SocialTwist revealed that email was the number one channel for referrals by brand advocates, generating twice as many new customers as any social media.
Next time you’re digging for gold with your marketing make sure you don’t overlook the hidden treasure of email marketing.