This is a great strategy. It’s far easier to sell to people who know, like, and trust you than it is to sell to strangers. But, how do you choose which channel(s) to use to build those relationships when there are so many options?
Uncertainty of Social Media
At first glance, social media services offer two large advantages:
1. They’re free to use (paid adverts excluded).
2. Your customers and prospects are already hanging out there.
But, when we look at these “advantages” more closely, they don’t appear so certain.
In the good old days (of a couple of years ago,) tens-of-thousands of small business owners slaved away at building their Facebook followings. A connection on Facebook seemed as good as money in the bank since it allowed them to market their business to that person for free with every post. But then Facebook changed the rules…
Overnight, business owners found that only 4% of their posts were getting through to their followers. Of course, they could get that number up…if they paid Facebook to promote the posts.
These business owners learned a hard lesson: If you don’t control the marketing channel, you don’t own your leads.
This isn’t just a problem for those business owners who Facebook screwed back then. It’s your problem, here and now, if you use free social media to promote your business. Any of the social media corporations could decide to make a similar move at any time, erecting a paywall between you and your customers.
With email, by contrast, nobody can take it away from you or jack up the price. Sure, the company who hosts your list could raise their prices, but if they raise them too much, their customers will leave en masse.
With any list-hosting service, you can download your list of subscribers at any point. You can back it up to your home computer every day if you want. The fact that you can take your list to another provider means that YOU own your leads, NOT the hosting service.
Focus: The Second Benefit of Email Newsletters
When people use social media, they’re primarily looking to socialize. While your message might catch your audience’s eye, it won’t hold the attention of most, because they're in the mood to have fun and connect with people, not take care of important tasks.
But when people open their emails, they’re in a very different head-space. Email is a time to take care of business, pay bills, and generally do all the serious stuff that helps life tick along. That’s the perfect head-space for someone to read about your business’s latest news or special-offer.
It might seem old fashioned, but email-marketing works so effectively that the first piece of advice professional internet marketers usually give newcomers is, “You’ve got to have an email list.”
Newsletter subscribers (who you treat well,) are generally very responsive to your marketing. They sign up to your newsletter specifically to receive your marketing messages. Nobody signs up to Twitter, Facebook, or other social media specifically because they want to hear about your products and services.
Isn’t Running an Email List Pricey?
Actually, you can start building your list free. Several providers, such as MailChimp and MailerLite, offer free packages for those just starting out. You only pay once your gain a certain number of subscribers. Meanwhile, you can email your subscribers free.
Even if you choose a provider who charges for their smallest plan, the fee is generally low. You can only expect to pay a significant amount if you gain tens-of-thousands of subscribers. But with a list of hungry buyers that size, you’ll probably be more concerned with hiring extra staff than saving money on your list-hosting bill.
Social media is a great way to connect with customers and leads, but it’s not a secure foundation to build your business upon. If you have to choose between building a social media following and getting newsletter subscribers, choose the newsletter every time.