Back when social media started getting really hot there were a lot of people who were quick to predict the demise of email marketing. It was like that famous line from Henny Penny (aka Chicken Little), “The Sky is Falling! The Sky is Falling!” but instead they were saying “Email is dead! Email is dead!”
They were wrong.
Email marketing is just as much alive today as it ever has been. Sure, like all marketing, there are hurdles to overcome and right vs wrong ways to do it but I believe email marketing trumps every form of online marketing in terms of generating the type of response, action and engagement that really matters.
By the way, I’ve been involved in marketing (online and offline) and platform building for over 15 years. I’ve worked with all types of clients, some who had almost no budget and others where I managed multi-million dollar budgets. I’ve built targeted email lists of hundreds of thousands of subscribers, I’ve helped create and grow dozens of successful brands, I’ve taken social media platforms from zero to almost a half-million followers, and much more. The point is this, the advice I’m giving here is not random. What I’m sharing is based on being on the front lines, seeing what works and what doesn’t.
This post isn’t to bash social media either. Quite the contrary. I love social media but only as a PART of an integrated marketing mix, not an end-all solution that many seem to think or have been misled to believe that it is. Same goes for email marketing actually… or running ads… or direct mail… or any other component of a marketing mix. Rarely is one solution THE solution. In most cases you utilize different solutions to reach different people in different ways. It’s all part of a collective effort that, to be effective, you must leverage to generate the best results for your particular goals.
So how does email still trump everything else?
I’m glad you asked. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. You Own the List – One of the greatest assets you can have is your list (list of customers, prospects, clients, members, etc). When you own this list you have direct access to communicate with them whenever you want. The list is yours and having it helps you build and grow residually and exponentially. If you choose to move from one email list provider (Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Aweber, etc.) to another, you can take your list with you anywhere. Not the same for 3rd party platforms like Facebook and Twitter, at least not easily. If Facebook or Twitter died tomorrow or cancelled your accounts, you’d be up a creek with almost no access to your followers. Think about the damage that could do if you are relying solely on outposts that you can’t control.
2. You Can Reach More – Let’s start this one with an example. Say you have 5,000 fans on Facebook and 1,000 followers on Twitter. What happens when you post an update? Do all 5k and 1k people see your update? Nope. A much smaller % do. Why? Well, Facebook’s Edgerank calculates who sees what based on a number of factors but on average somewhere between 15% and 30% of your page “fans” will see your post organically. And with Twitter, just because you might have 1,000 followers doesn’t mean that all 1,000 are paying attention when you post (and many of them might be using Twitter lists and not really paying attention to you at all). But with email… if you have 10,000 subscribers you are more likely to be able to reach a greater % of those people when you send out an email blast. Yes, your open rates will vary BUT if your content is relevant to your list, your open rates can be quite high… either way, you’ll still usually reach a greater % of your email subscribers than the % reached on social media.
3. Email Converts WAY Better – Conversion is key, especially if you are in business or have an action that you want someone to take. And by “action” I don’t mean some lightweight form of engagement such as clicking LIKE on a Facebook post. I mean action that moves the needle. Action where someone buys what you are selling or does what you are asking. No question about it, email just converts WAY better. Without conversion you have no sales or results. There are numerous studies out there that support what I’m saying here but try it yourself. Test trying to sell something on Facebook or Twitter and then push that same offer in an email and let the results be your guide.
4. It Waits To Get Opened – If you post right now on Facebook and Twitter but your fan or prospect doesn’t log on to their social account for a day or so… what are the chances they will see your post? Pretty slim. Why? Because your update will get pushed down in their “feed” with other people’s posts as time goes by. Same goes with email, to a degree, BUT most people do cycle through their unread mail in their inbox so your chances of being seen go up dramatically with email.
5. It’s Shareable – All social media and email are shareable but the added benefit of email is that you can list multiple share options within your email to inspire / encourage subscribers to share on multiple outlets. Facebook doesn’t include a “Share this on LinkedIn” button on each post but you can include a “Share on LinkedIn” button in your email. See what I mean?
6. Low Cost to Get Going – Like social media, email marketing can be very low cost to do effectively. You can simply sign up for an email list account with a service like Mailchimp or Constant Contact and get started immediately. If you can’t afford advertising or expensive tactics, you can afford to start with email marketing. Import your existing customer lists and add an email subscription box to your website / blog and begin to grow your list immediately. Once you are setup, you just need to create a content strategy of how to communicate with your list. I’ll cover more of that in an upcoming post.
7. It Builds Your Own Platform – When you own your list, you own a platform. Important Disclaimer: Never treat your subscribers like a list, a platform or a number. You must treat your subscribers like humans, because they are, and never take them for granted. Always invest in them and add value to them. For marketing purposes though, think of it like this… why would you try to go and get a guest blog post on a top blog like Michael Hyatt’s? Because he has an established following, that’s why. He has an audience (or a Platform). For you, when you develop your own platform then you have a way to instantly reach an audience more effectively without having to rely on someone else’s platform as much (like begging Michael, or other top bloggers, to promote you). Take Jon Gordon for example. I’ve worked with Jon for many years. His weekly email list now reaches over 100,000 people (and growing). His list is very responsive, engaged and loyal. When Jon shares an idea we know that we will instantly have thousands upon thousands of people taking some sort of action (if we ask them to take one). In fact, when Jon releases a new book, his list alone can drive it to the top of the charts. You list helps to build your platform and gives you long-term audience growth.
8. It Segments – With email subscriptions it is much easier to segment your lists. If you don’t know what segmentation is, it’s basically when you group people by categories. You might have your main email list but also within that you might have separate lists of people based on what product they’ve bought or what interest they noted or some other qualifying factor. This segmentation enables you to send out specialized communication to people based on their targeted interests. Segmentation can dramatically improve your results. You CAN do some light segmentation with social media but it’s much harder.
9. It Expands Personal Contact and Grows Your TRIBE– For those who are trying to increase their influence or build a personal brand, email is one of the best ways to foster personal interaction. Despite that ability being there on Facebook and Twitter, people do seem to feel more comfortable still hitting “reply” to an email. It’s an environment that allows them to communicate direct and if you reply to them, it can go a long way in helping to build your TRIBE. Investing in your followers is one of the fastest paths to success. Treat people like they matter and they’ll be more inclined to do the same to you. By the way, don’t just take my word for it… look at how people like Chris Brogan are pushing more through email lists. To quote Chris he recently said in this post, “I’ve come to discover that my newsletter is a lot more responsive.”
10. More People Have It – This may come as a shock to some of you but not everyone online is on Twitter or Facebook (or at least active on them) but most people do have an email account that they check. Some stats on KissMetrics note that email has nearly three times as many user accounts as Facebook and Twitter, combined.
There are many more reasons than these 10 but it’s a good start.
Want additional tips and strategies on how to build, grow and optimize your email list? What to know how to leverage it better with social media too?
Let me know here or leave a comment below. Post your questions and I’ll share additional tactics as well as how I have successfully helped grow responsive lists that create impact (and generate revenue).
Question: Do you use email marketing? What have you seen to be most effective is moving the needle for you?