It was a hot and muggy spring day in New York City, and I was sitting in a conference room at Columbia Records during a marketing meeting. Our VP of digital marketing was talking about social media -- then in its early days -- acknowledging its significance to the online marketing scene. Thinking the meeting was going to stress the importance of utilizing Facebook and MySpace (yeah, it was that back in that day), I was surprised to hear a different message: "I want e-mail addresses," she said. "Nothing is more important than those e-mail addresses. Not Facebook fans, not MySpace fans."
It's been 10 years since that meeting, and her words have stayed with me since. As a more experienced marketer now, I too believe that building an e-mail list is one of the most valuable assets you can have as a business. While undoubtedly social media can help you reach audiences, having a customer or potential customer's e-mail address gives you an opportunity to truly connect with people. You can go straight to them instead of asking them to come to you.
Five more reasons why you need to build an e-mail list as a brand or business:
1.) Not everyone uses social media, but almost everyone that has access uses e-mail.
There are roughly two billion social media accounts in the world. There are more than double that number of e-mail accounts. To even sign up for a social media account, you need to have an e-mail address. Get that e-mail address (and ideally, that social media follower, too!) and you have more opportunity to reach your target audience so long as they stay subscribes!
2.) Directly connect with your audience.
I'll be real with you. You probably don't need an e-mail list if you are not monetizing your website or blog. But if you have something to offer, e-mail can be immensely effective with reaching and converting consumers. It's more personal than social media, and it helps tell your story consistently and directly with your audience. Social media is increasingly becoming more pay-to-play in terms of your reaching your audiences with your content. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Pinterest have altered their algorithms in an effort to force brands and businesses to pay for impressions that once were free. According to a study shared by Business Insider, more than 98% of people with e-mail check it at least once a day. Get in their inbox and get noticed.
3.) Educate your customers.
E-mail lists are not all about selling to your subscribers. It's also about educating them. As part of your marketing strategy, I hope that you're producing owned content and shared content that is valuable to your audiences and your consumers. Maybe that looks like blogging, podcasting, captioning, photographing, e-booking, or something completely different to you. You can keep your most tuned-in audience up-to-date and informed about your product or service, sharing your expertise with them along the way, via e-newsletters. This helps to build trust, which is vital to conversions. It also helps keep your subscribers subscribed if you're sharing valuable information with them regularly.
4.) Your e-mail list is just that...yours.
It hit me at a conference workshop a few years back. Twitter was not working, and everyone started to panic. "How am I supposed to live-tweet this session?!" Sound familiar? Social media is communication, but it uses technology to operate. Most significantly, this technology does not belong to you. Facebook could be hacked and crash tomorrow. Instagram can freak out and delete all of your followers. Twitter can be down for hours during your scheduled Periscope broadcast. And remember MySpace? Nothing is forever, and you can't back up your social media accounts to a cloud or to a hard drive. At the end of the day, our control over our precious social media channels is not owned by us. Your e-mail list, however, is in fact yours - just remember to consistently back it up!
5.) The analytics are valuable.
If you're using an e-mail client like MailChimp or Constant Contact, you'll have access to not only analytics regarding your own e-mail communications, but comparisons to similar market e-mail trends, as well. Insights are extremely valuable to fueling your strategy moving forward, and a great way to experiment, as well. Why not do a little A/B testing with your subject lines, like comparing a couple to see which has the best open-rate? If one message works significantly better than another, or one content type was clicked on more than a different content type, use that data to help drive your decisions about communications and marketing in other areas of your business.
"So, wait, is social media not that important?" you may be wondering.
No way! Social media is critical to almost every business' marketing strategy, but we can't forget the importance of integrating e-mail and content marketing, as well. Together, you'll have greater impact.
We hope you found this post helpful, and if you'd like to learn more about how to build an e-mail list, get your e-mail newsletter set-up, or develop a documented content marketing strategy, get in touch!