Despite all of the buzz and excitement swirling around social media marketing — much of it driven by hype I might add — email remains the killer app for online marketers who demand an immediate and measurable return from their marketing efforts.
Given a choice between 100 visits driven by social media and 10 from email marketing I’ll take the 10 any day of the week.
My professional opinion is that traffic is only as valuable as the conversion (leads and sales) it brings you. “Buzz” should never be a primary aim, rather a by-product of generating leads and making sales. And in most markets, email driven traffic is 15 to 20 times more likely to convert than social media traffic.
So why are so many marketers struggling these days to make email marketing work?
One reason is because they’re wasting too much of their time with social media. Here’s the pop theory …
Social networks are like backyard barbecues. You head on over and sit around the barby sippin’ a few proverbial wobbly pops, chatting up the locals, making friends, talking about the weather and the game and other idle gossip. And sooner or later somebody is sure to ask: So what do you do?
And that’s your chance to invite ‘em over to your place — your blog, I mean. And on your blog you’ve got plenty of hearty hospitality that proves you’re a swell guy or gal definitely worth knowing the next time your new-found friends ever need what you’re selling.
Now, even a hair-on-fire social media fanatic will tell you your next step in the long and winding road to revenue is to try and get these visitors to sign up to your email list. So you’ve got an email sign up box on your blog with a delicious free gift your new friends can take home with them. That way you can market to them on demand — well into the future.
Just one problem with all this awesomeness: Way too much work for too little return. You have to sift through far too many of these social media butterflies to find a serious prospect. I mean, why do people go on social media sites? To socialize! That’s why they’re called “Social” networks.
Why not start with quality traffic in the first place — people who are actively searching desperately for an answer to the problem you solve. Duh!
Beware the social media kool aid that says you can get all of the traffic you could ever want for free. Nothing’s free. You got into business to leverage yourself, not to become a $2 an hour social media slave.
Go out and buy yourself some traffic, or do some good old-fashioned joint ventures, or publicity. And build you list on a solid foundation.
Another reason marketers struggle with email these days — even those who understand that you need quality traffic to begin with — is what I call the curse of voluntary anonymity.
I see this all the time and it breaks my heart.
What am I talking about?
Simply this: Business owners hiding behind their “brand”… or their “product” instead of interacting personally with people.
There is an epidemic of distrust on the Internet…
Unless you’re a known brand like Apple or Amazon, the first thing a new prospect does when they come to your website or blog is try to figure out who the heck you are.
Before they engage with your promise and sign up to your email list, they want to know if you seem honest, competent, and sympathetic. And if they do decide to connect with you via email they want to be subtly reminded of these qualities each time you drop in to say “Hi” …
Yet you’ve seen it a thousand times before… flashy html emails from [insert catchy company or publication name here] waxing poetic about [insert product name or topic here] — the whole piece written in disembodied voice.
This kind of an approach might work fine in the offline world, but it’s just not how email works. Think about it: email is the most personal marketing medium on the planet. You trade emails with your friends and family. And you do it with plain looking text and little formatting. You read those emails. You trust those emails.
If you send flashy looking html masterpieces, instantly you go in the spam folder of your prospect’s brain. Your email looks and feels like an intrusion.
Even if someone does open your email, they’re ten times more likely to trash it. You failed to make a human connection. Email is a one-to-one medium. Get personal, or go home.
One more reason email doesn’t work (the last one I’ve got time for today) …
It’s when marketers become extremists. Instead of walking the middle road between providing valuable information and asking for a purchase, they’re either all content or all pitch.
You need both. If you run your list like a soup kitchen you’re just training people not to buy from you. On the other hand, if you’re emails are just pitch, pitch, pitch — nobody’s going to open them.
Mix it up for heaven’s sake.
Email may not be the idiot proof marketing money machine it once was, but make no mistake, it’s still the cornerstone of Internet marketing.
With a little ingenuity, it’ll work for you just fine.
Until next time, Good Selling!