Miles Burke

Thoughts on startups, small business, marketing & more.

build an email list

Digital Marketing Success: Build an Email List

I’ve worked with business and personalities large and small over the years, who have a large focus on social media audience building. This is fantastic – but don’t forget to build an email list!

I recently gave some advice to a musician I know, about how he should build a larger audience and engage with them better. I follow him on a couple of social platforms, and I see that he is building a strong following. Yet there’s an activity he seems to have missed – that is, continuously build an email list.

At the moment, there seems to be a big focus on vanity metrics out there. The average punter is asking how large can you build your social media following? The issue with too much focus on followers and connections, and not enough on actual engagement, means these people may end up left behind.

Your email list subscribers are something you’ve earned, and have control over. Unlike your social media audience, which is very much a ‘rented crowd’. Let me explain in more detail why it’s imperative you build an email list.

Audience at concert

Audience at concert

Benefits of email versus social

Social media is fantastic; I am not suggesting you should take your focus off this channel. However, to ensure better engagement with your audience, you’ll want to include email in the mix; here are seven compelling reasons why you should build an email list.

You own the audience

Unlike social platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, you aren’t sharing your subscriber data with services that sometimes have dubious privacy policies. Remember, these platforms are in the business of selling advertising.

Add to this, you could lose access to your account at any time, even though if you play by the rules, it’s unlikely. If you read the Terms of Service for Facebook and Twitter, you’ll find that your account can be terminated at their sole discretion. That’s a scary concept if you’ve spent money and lots of time, building that audience.

More visibility

Sending an email ensures you cut through the noise better, than posting on a crowded social media channel, such as Twitter.

Emails tend to get opened more (see below), read for longer, and are less likely to be clashing with similar messages at the same moment.

Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. – McKinsey

Better segmentation

The issue with social networks, is that your followers are in one big list. If you build an email list, you can also segment your audience by anything you wish to define them by.

If you can segment your subscribers, then you can email them more appropriate messages. If I have bought your album, I may want to hear about gigs in my hometown. If I have bought a ticket to a concert, I’m likely to be interested in your new album.

The footer of every email should also be used to promote your social media channels, to encourage subscribers to join you in the social ecosystem.

Email marketing example

Email marketing example

Ability to personalise

You can’t personalise a message to your audience on social, without hitting each audience member one on one, which is laborious and generally frowned upon.

Email allows you to personalise with whatever merge data you have available. Want to email a thanks to me (and every other person) who bought a ticket to your concert? Easy!

Increased engagement

Email has a far better open rate, than the chances of a followers seeing your social media post, organically. Social@Ogilvy reports the average Facebook page has a 2% organic reach. In a recent Mailchimp report, it showed artists have an average 27.12% open rate for emails.

If you want to reach more people from a single post, then email will give a 14 times better return.

Decreased costs

Whilst email isn’t free, and social media organic posts are, the challenge is trying to be visible to most of your audience. Statistics show a 2-8% of Facebook followers may see your latest status message. They want you to spend $20-$200 on promoting that post to your followers, making the platform nearly a pay-per-post business.

If you build an email list, you can enjoy a 25%+ open rate, and it will only cost you a few cents per subscriber or less, to reach their inbox.

4.24% of email subscribers will purchase, versus 0.59% of social media contacts.
Monetate.

Ability to connect socially

If you have someone’s email address, this means you can use this data to connect with them on many social platforms. You can also use this to display an ad, specific to your subscribers.

For example, Facebook advertising has a custom audiences feature, which means you can display a specific ad for your subscribers, where Twitter and LinkedIn allow you to send a connection request based on an email list.

Tactics

You want to link up all your active social profiles back to a website, and have that website link back to the different social platforms that you are active on. Think of it as your own small network.

Social platforms and website

Social platforms and website

This means that social media followers can visit your website and join your email list, and website visitors can find the appropriate social platform for them to follow you on. See my article, The Complete Guide on How to Use Twitter for Content Marketing for further tips on social media.

Say I find you on Instagram. I don’t use Instagram daily, whereas I do use Twitter a few times a day. I can click your profile link, find your website and then see you’re on twitter, and Bingo! I follow you on the social platform I prefer.

If you don’t have a large website, or you are in the early stages of building your own personal brand (such as a musician in this example), you want to ensure you have a clear primary and secondary focus when people visit your website.

This quick sketch below shows how a single page could work for you. Have a photo of yourself, a short biography with contact details, a prominent email subscribe form, as well as links to various social platforms.

Website with email and social

Website with email and social

There are a truckload of different methods to encourage visitors to subscribe to your email list. An often used technique (especially for musicians, writers and creators) is a freebie for signing up; in the musician example this could be an MP3 track off a previous album, the chance to win tickets to a concert, discount merchandise or more.

Out of all the channels I tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them.
– Neil Patel

Summary

Successful digital strategy should always include an activity to build an email list – this helps protect you from the rising costs and dropping engagement rates on social media, and allows you to be better prepared for longer term success.

The seven main benefits again, are;

  • You own the audience
  • More visibility
  • Better segmentation
  • Ability to personalise
  • Increased engagement
  • Decreased costs
  • Ability to connect socially

Now that you understand that email is a vital component of your digital marketing, get cracking, and build that email list and engage better with your audience.

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1 Comment

  1. That’s an awesome article! Its true the main thing I see is that its easier to engage more with the customer or potential clients through social media! Make sure your social media strategy game on fire!

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