Why You Should Forget Social and Build Your Email List

email marketing

Is email marketing really dead?

Today, in the world of digital marketing all of the buzz seems to be around social media and SEO and content and mobile.
How do we choose the right social media channel? A topic I addressed in a recent post here. Where can I find the best content for my audience? Do I need a mobile website? How do I build my Twitter following? etc., etc. These are all valid questions, but are we asking the right questions about the right marketing tool?

What about the ancient practice of email marketing? I say ancient, because at least in terms of internet years it probably qualifies as ancient and all too often email marketing is missing from the conversation as we get caught up in all the latest and greatest.

In my opinion, that is a big mistake….at least for the vast majority of businesses.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe social media should be part of your marketing mix and certainly use more than one channel if you have the time and the resources….
Ahhhh, but there are the important things to consider…TIME and RESOURCES.

If you are like many small business owners you are already wearing too many hats, trying to do too many things and you certainly have no time to waste. You know there is never enough time in the day, you understand that time is a non-renewable resource. You can get more money….you can get more sales, more leads….but you cannot get more time. So one very important question you must ask yourself when it comes to marketing your business must be….“for an investment of my time and resources where do I get the greatest return?” And quite frankly it may not be social media.

Which brings me back to email marketing.

For many it has almost been forgotten. It has been around so long we tend to overlook it. It is no longer shiny and new. And with the recent anti-spam laws that have come into effect, or soon will, it has put the fear of god into many business owners and marketers. With governments throwing the threats of around of fines of up to $10M that is enough to scare anyone away.

But let’s take a closer look.

As a small business owner and consultant, one of the biggest issues I have with social media is that I don’t own it.

What do I mean? I can spend all kinds of time investing in my social platform and developing my audience. But, what if tomorrow Facebook adjusts its “EdgeRank” algorithm and forces me to do things in a completely different manner because they decided they want their platform to work differently. (Of course, the word differently should be interpreted as better :-) ) What if their change even costs me some of my audience? That would be my problem, not Facebook’s. And of course the same would apply to Twitter or LinkedIn.

But when it comes to my email list it is very different. So here are the 7 reasons that I believe you should be investing time and resources, particularly if they are limited, into email marketing and building your own email list or as Seth Godin would say, “your tribe”.


You Own Your List
Unlike with the social channels and the audience you build on that channel, you never truly own that audience. You will always be at the mercy of the social media channel and how it wants its platform to operate.

What if Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook change their algorithm tomorrow?
Just look at all the changes that they have made since they went public and began trading on the stock exchange. They now have shareholders and board of directors to keep happy, and not just users.

We Understand It
For many there is still a huge learning curve and lack of understanding as to how best to use social media for your marketing. And as we mentioned, before you even use it how do you pick the right social channel? But email is like an old comfortable sweater. We know how it works. We have been using it forever. Your audience (customers) knows how it works and are not intimidated by it.

Encourages Conversation
Many would say social media also encourages dialogue…that is what it is all about…being social. And I agree. But again, for many people they are just not comfortable communicating on social media, nor do they want to communicate on social media. The same concerns or hesitations do not usually exist when it comes to email, again because we are far more comfortable with it. We have more experience using it.

More Personal
Email is more personal. Again, some would argue this point. But with the incredible email tools available today it is very easy to send an email to 10,000 recipients and personalize every one of them with a greeting of “Hi Paul”, or “Dear Kate”. Can you personalize a Tweet to all your followers….or, is it basically “Dear Occupant”. I think you get my point.

It Enables Tracking
Now we are getting to one of my favourites…analytics and performance tracking. And again, I know what you are thinking…wait a minute, I can track my social engagement…how many likes, retweets, etc.

But when I send out a post on Facebook or a Tweet on Twitter…I don’t really know how engaged my audience was with that content. I certainly don’t know how many in my audience even saw the content, at least to the same degree. But, when you are using one of the fantastic email programs we have today like MailChimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, etc. they all provide tracking…such as:

  • how many people opened the email?
  • how many forwarded to a friend?
  • how many clicked on the links?
  • which links did they click on?
  • how many times did they open the email?

Not perfect, I agree. But certainly provides me with lots of valuable information about how engaged my audience is with my content and even which content they are most interested in reading or sharing.

It Facilitates Promotion
Another personal favourite. You can easily push out promotions whenever you want, as often as you want to everyone on your email list, or just even just a specific segment of your list. Send out newsletters, promotions, announcement, offers and best of all…stay top of mind with your customers.

It Encourages Sharing
Not everyone understands how to share on social but they know how to forward an email. With the click of a button your email can be forwarded to others. As a matter of fact I just recently did a survey of my own email list and a whopping 75% said their preferred method of sharing information was by email!

I am certainly not saying that social media has no place in your digital marketing mix. I am only saying that perhaps, depending upon your situation, it may not be the best investment of your time and resources. And that maybe, it is time to have a closer look at email marketing.

But, if you are already using social media as part of your digital marketing mix, and you are happy with the results, make sure you are also using it to help build your email list through Facebook promotions or newsletter sign-ups! Remember, you always own that list.

As always your feedback is appreciated. Thanks for stopping by.


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