Email's not dead. Not even close.



If you’ve been paying attention to tech or political news this week, you know one of the world’s biggest social platforms, Facebook, is under fire for allegedly exposing its users’ data to a third party. While this is scary to me on a deeply personal level, it’s also worrisome from a business standpoint. It underscores a topic I was planning to write about a week ago, which is why in a world of Facebooks, email marketing is the way to go. Email, you ask? Yeah, that old thing. Read on.

Whether it’s this week’s data privacy scandal, last month’s policy guidelines from YouTube, or Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm, when you publish on other platforms, you’re subject to their rules. You should never put all of your eggs in one basket nor should you only be using social media for marketing. By only having a social marketing strategy, you’re putting your brand into the hands of unknown variables such as:

  • Reach. Platform developers can tweak their algorithms to affect users’ stream of content at any given time. As a publisher, your reach could be obliterated overnight and your precious content left woefully unseen. In fact, as things stand today, only 6% of your social media followers will see your posts on a regular basis. Good luck trying to post a link on Facebook. 

  • Market volatility. Facebook could go away tomorrow. It probably won’t, but technically speaking, it could. Remember Vero? It was all the rage until the servers couldn’t handle the influx of new users and it was abandoned just as quickly as it became popular. Or how about Vine? RIP.

By contrast, email marketing is stable, predictable, and best of all, completely ownable. Here are some perks of email outreach:

  • 91% of consumers check their email at least once a day, which is significantly better than social media

  • Your message will live on until the reader decides to delete it. How often to you try to go back to a post in a feed of content just to discover it’s nowhere to be found?

  • Email has a much greater ROI than social when selling products or services. The median return on investment for email campaigns is 122% vs just 28% on social media

  • Emails are more personal — especially when you begin segmenting your list where you are able to target specific groups

  • 77% of consumers say they prefer email

With this eye-popping information, how come no one is talking about the importance of email “list-building”?

Simply put: email isn’t sexy. It’s old school, it’s time-consuming, it reminds us of work... To me, asking people for their email address feels more like handing out business cards than it feels like building a savvy audience of next-gen buyers. Sometimes, it’s downright painful.

But there’s something else: ego. There’s no notoriety in building a large email list. What I mean is, there's no vanity metric for all to see. In a world where everyone can SEE how many views your video got and how many followers you have on Twitter, it feels somewhat fruitless to bust your buns trying to grow a number that’s not going to impress anyone. There’s a lot more work that goes into growing an email list than a social following and the rewards are mostly private.

So, what is social media good for? Surely millions of business owners can’t all be wasting their time.

The best reason to use social media for business is to create an introduction for new people to join your email list. YEP. By providing consistent value on social media, people will follow you. Once you’ve earned their trust, you can ask them to join your email list, and only then are they an “ownable” part of your audience. From there, you’ve got to work to keep them by continuing to provide value on a continual basis.

If you’re in business and only focused on growing your public facing number, I urge you to build a strategy to grow an email list as well. Even if you don’t have anything to sell or announce right now, you’ll be glad you did when the time comes. Maybe you remember my “big news coming later this year”. Well, I’m building an email audience now so I have an ownable audience to announce it to.

If you’re not in business, consider who you’ve given your email address to and why. You’re probably on dozens, if not hundreds, of lists. Did you sign up for a free trial? A discount? Perhaps, you wrote your name down in a guestbook at a local boutique or restaurant. How many of these lists are still providing value to you? How many are you archiving almost immediately?

Now knowing how thoughtful email marketers should be about their access to your inbox, consider unsubscribing from some of the junk. I recently purged ~150 newsletters in bulk that didn’t make the cut using and feel 20 lbs lighter, just in time for spring. ;)

As always, thanks for reading. If you or someone you know is launching a business and hasn’t started building an email list, forward them this email, and let me know you did. I have a bonus quick-start guide to list-building and I’d love to send it their way.

Next week I want to share the two most important platforms for building a business like mine. Spoiler alert: I'm not using either of them yet.

Now, let’s see how this Facebook thing unfolds… 

Until next time,