How is an email list superior to social media?

I’ve been a big fan of Paul Jarvis for many, many years. He’s a fellow freelance designer who often talks about his mailing lists and how profitable they have been for his own business. Today, I wanted to talk about how an email list can be an incredible business asset compared to social media and why, as a web designer, I have an opinion on this.

Social media isn’t free

The thing about social media – Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and the like – is that they are all a rented space. Unfortunately, we do not own those followers, nor likes or reposts. Facebook pulled a fast one on businesses a few years back where they urged everyone to create a business page on Facebook and gather as many followers and likes as possible. It was a big hype. A few years later, they started charging for access to those followers. For small businesses with smaller marketing budgets, this was a tough hit.

From Facebook’s perspective, this was a fantastic move for their revenue generation because companies still pay a lot of money to reach these people on their platforms. I’d not be surprised if Instagram pulled the same crap sometime soon too.

Because social media platforms own our followers, they get to dictate when those followers see our posts, especially if we don’t pay them. That’s why industry average engagements are so low. Our posts get exposed based on algorithms we have no control over. Emails, on the other hand, don’t work this way at all. And that’s why messages are 5 times more likely to be seen through email than on Facebook.

When it comes to purchases made as a result of receiving a marketing message, email has the highest conversion rate (66%), when compared to social, direct mail, and more.

Campaign Monitor, 70 Email Marketing Stats You Need to Know for 2019

We own our email subscribers

When someone signs up for your list, you own that email, you have the address, and you can email it as you wish without paying extra for showing up in their inbox. Sure, you may pay for software that sends those emails, but that’s email management. It’s the same thing as paying for Tailwind to manage your Instagram or Pinterest posts. Email management software is interchangeable and an optional expense. The bottom line is, you own the email data and can take them with you when you choose to switch from MailChimp to ConvertKit, for example.

Image of desk clutter with an email marketing theme.

You can’t do that with your Instagram followers, Facebooks likes, or YouTube views. You can’t export your followers on Pinterest into Twitter – they’re not interchangeable, and that’s impossible.

Yes, when someone follows you on any social network, they give permission to see your content on their feed. But, when they see the content is dictated by the social network’s algorithm. Whereas when someone gives you permission to email them, it’s up to you when you show up in their inbox.

How reliable can an email list be?

Actually, email lists are incredibly reliable for two critical reasons. First, email isn’t going anywhere. It’s been around for over 30 years, and it’s been a dependable communication method ever since. Second, email is also decentralized meaning that no one owns or controls emails. Yes, there are emails software such as MailChimp or ConvertKit to send mass emails with ease or Gmail and Outlook to open emails, but you don’t need those explicitly to send or receive emails. Decentralization is why email hasn’t died yet and won’t any time soon.

According to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. I’d say that’s pretty damn reliable.

61% of consumers prefer to be contacted by brands through email.

Adobe, Leading ways consumers prefer to be contacted by brands in the United States as of June 2018

A direct form of communication

Email marketing is the most direct way to contact your customers. It allows you to be in touch with them on their and your terms, respectively. From the subscriber perspective, they get to choose when they sign up for an email list, when or if they open an email. They choose when they read them, whether or not they want to interact with the emails – such as clicking a link or replying – and whether or not they wish to unsubscribe from the list.

You also get to choose when you email them, how often, and with what information. All of your emails get sent when you chose because it’s up to you and not an algorithm.

One thing that I recently read from Paul Jarvis was that he sends his emails from his personal email because that’s only fair. He’s 100% correct.

Replies from you go to my personal inbox, because my newsletter goes to your personal inbox, and I feel like fair is fair.

Paul Jarvis

I’ve had so much beef with businesses and corporations sending emails from “no-reply” addresses. It’s such a missed opportunity for anyone who is having trouble or needs to ask a question. The reply could go directly to the customer service team and be set up as a ticket. As I was writing the first for this article, I thought that I kind of understood if it’s a huge company. But, I take it back because, actually, I don’t.

The larger a company, the larger the budget they have for better customer experiences and quality customer support software that could quickly funnel the reply email to the right team to handle the question, feedback or whatever else the reply would be. Why give the customer more work to figure something out that the company confused them about in the first place? It makes absolutely no sense to me. Talk about a shitty customer experience

Yes, if you’re reading this from my email list, go ahead and hit reply even to just say hello or to see if I’m full of shit myself. I’m not because it goes back to my personal email address and I’ll happily reply back.

Social media has its place

I’m not totally bashing social media, I think there’s a useful purpose to it. After all, it is a wonderful marketing and viability tool. However, this article is here to help you think about how you leverage your social media accounts, especially if you’re using it grow your business. Consider using social media to guide your followers to your website onto your email list.

Image of Twitter screen on a phone

You can then use your list to send out targeted messages depending on what the subscriber signed up for, which emails they’ve opened or interacted with and the like. You can’t do this with social media as it’s heavily generalized, which diminishes the personalization effect significantly. These heavily targeted email campaigns are how entrepreneurs like Paul and other companies bring in higher conversions and returns on investments for their products and offers.

Here are some stats for you:
• Email marketing yields an average return of $44 per each dollar spent. Campaign Monitor
• Segmented and targeted emails can generate 58% of all revenue. – DMA
• 90% of email gets delivered to the intended recipient’s inbox, whereas only 2% of your Facebook fans see your posts in their News Feed. – Forrester Research
• Paul Jarvis gets an ROI of $120 for each dollar spent on email marketing How to make money from your mailing list – Paul Jarvis

Why does a web designer care about email marketing?

The primary thing websites and email list have in common is that you sign up for an email list through a website. However, if we are talking about customer experience and branding, there is a whole lot more in common going on there.

When working with clients, I like to know about their marketing efforts. Specifically, what they’re currently doing to generate traffic and awareness and if they plan on making changes any time soon. A website will have a different user flow if a company wants to focus on growing its mailing list then one that doesn’t.

Although I’m not an email marketing expert myself, I do believe in the power the right email marketing campaigns have; I’ve seen it first hand when I self-published my designs books back in the day as I do currently with this web design business. Not to mention, reading about it within the industry.

Image of Gmail on a phone

Often time, when I speak to my clients about customer experiences, I’ll mention how it also related to their marketing. This includes emails lists. I don’t try to give them advice on the types of campaigns they should run but rather how those campaigns fit into the experience their subscribers have with their brand. This usually includes a whole conversation on the goals of these campaigns besides conversions such as creating a pleasant and authentic exchange of information to help the company’s brand grow in the eyes of their subscriber.

Creating a personalized email experience for your subscribers can have a phenomenal impact on your brand perspective and customer reach, a by-product of which is even higher conversion rates.

The takeaway

Actively growing your email list, as well as utilizing a variety of customized funnels can tremendously impact your business growth. It’s no secret that email marketing has a high ROI. When you think about your email list, think about how it fits into the customer experience your subscribers have with your brand. This is an excellent opportunity for you to create a lasting and positive impression on your subscribers that can easily translate to further business growth.