There was a time, as Social Media started getting hot, when many were saying that Email Marketing was dead. I never believed it. If people still use email, which they obviously do, then it’s still a viable means of contact.
Social Media just adds more opportunity and expands our ability to gain access to people in a different way. Access with short 140 character style bites that are easier to digest quickly and move on.
I don’t see it as email versus social media and one being more effective over another; I see it as a combined opportunity to leverage different tools for one unified goal… to communicate with people based on their preference and to do it as effective as we can.
It’s not an either or scenario. It’s a both and.
Just like back in the day when there were only 3 major TV networks and you could reach almost everyone with those three. Then cable TV came along and added 100 channels to the mix. It just divided up the pie, making it harder to reach everyone but easier to target specifically based on likes and interests.
Most people are inundated with a gazillion email messages a day, we all understand that but Social Media is not the White Knight savior to the issue of email overload. The Social Media space can be just as crowded and offer just as much noise. It boils down to how we utilize each tool as consumers and as communicators (or marketers in some cases).
Now that we have all that out of the way… let’s talk about Effective Use of Email Marketing:
I value email marketing for these 5 primary reasons:
1. You can build a list. In marketing your list is like gold. It’s enables residual points of contact. For bloggers, many use RSS email subscriptions and that works okay too but a good old fashioned email newsletter is my method of choice… why? See below.
2. You can be proactive. With an email newsletter you can choose to setup, schedule and send an email at any time. This comes in handy when you have a quick turnaround request.
3. You can segment. With email newsletters you can build categories of lists within your database. This is critical as you begin to be more intentional about marketing and targeting based on interests, etc. Having a relevant message based off interests is key to engaged response.
4. You can drive traffic. Email, like Social Media, can be used to drive traffic to other parts of your platform. It’s cross promotional marketing. Use your email newsletter to link to blog posts, Twitter, etc and vice versus.
5. Almost everyone uses it. While Social Media is huge, there are still a lot of people who aren’t on it or who don’t stay actively engaged on it. If you ONLY rely on an RSS feed (which many people still have no idea what that is) and/or Twitter and Facebook updates… you could be missing out on a lot of potential readers.
What Email Service Providers Should You Use?
It varies based on the need and what you want to do. For those who have more elaborate information marketing, products, or affiliate type deals rolling… something like Aweber or InfusionSoft will do the trick.
For most users though, a simpler but extremely efficient and low cost solution would be services such as Constant Contact or Mail Chimp (there are many more as well). Each of these offers great resources, templates and simple systems to easily capture email addresses, setup a newsletter and send. I personally use Constant Contact for a majority of what I do and with a number of clients. I’ve always been impressed by their level of service, their delivery rates, efficient cost, and their constant adding of features.
A Few Email and List Building Tips
1. If you have a newsletter, I suggest adding an opt-in / sign up box on the top of EVERY page of your website. Make it embedded into the header. See www.JonGordon.com top right as an example. We’ve grown Jon’s list to over 50,000 subscribers and he has dozens of new sign ups each day. Getting people into your list is critical so that you can have the opportunity to communicate with them long-term, which increases the likelihood they will respond.
2. If you have a blog, add a newsletter opt-in / sign up box in addition to your RSS feed subscription. You can make your newsletter have exclusive content that isn’t on the blog. Chris Brogan does a nice job at this.
3. Give something valuable away. If you are trying to increase your subscriber base, offer something valuable that people can download or gain access to and invite / encourage them to also subscribe to your newsletter at the same time. This value add might also be sharable which can increase your traffic and response as well. It works.
4. When you send a newsletter, ALWAYS consider the WIIFM Factor (What’s in it for me?). Make sure your newsletter contains value for the reader. Don’t make it just about you or self promotional. Sure, you can work in what you need to say or what you hope people to take action on but add value first. People subscribe to your newsletter because of what you can do for them, not the other way around.
5. Think of newsletter subscribers like community and treat them that way. Try to engage them, make your newsletter personable and even personal. Community is built on relationships. Every interaction (newsletter and social media) you have will either add to the community or take away. The choice is yours.
Hope these few tips were helpful.