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How gaining an email subscriber can be more valuable than a Facebook like

Over the last couple of years we’ve all been sucked into the hype about ‘gaining’ lots of followers on the various social networks at some point. But when it comes down to business and converting these followers into actual sales, are they more inclined to purchase a product/service than people who are subscribed to your messages via email?

It depends. If you’re looking to simply build your brand awareness and presence, then social media is your best bet, otherwise, I’ve found email to be a more cost-effective medium for sales and conversions.

The assumption – that the people you’re targeting are potential customers who have not purchased with you before and you’re using an email marketing / marketing automation system.

They want to know more about your brand

The people who are on your subscriber list have indicated at some point(hopefully) that they would like to receive information about your brand or product(s).

Let me just state that again, the potential customer has told you that they would like to receive emails about your brand or product(s). Yes. A message directly to their inbox and notification on their phone about what you have to say.

This in itself, is half the job done (well, not half, but a start at least).

Identifying what your subscriber likes

They’ve signed up. What information did you collect? If your response to this is “Just their name and email”, don’t fear.

You should set up an autoresponder for when your user signs up and within this email identify what key sections your user is interested in. Once you identify what sections correspond to particular interests you can then segment users who click on one or more areas of interest. This is a very quick and easy way to get some more targeted data about your user.

An example of identifying different interest areas of an email in order segment email subscribers.

Better targeted messages

While Facebook boasts it’s targeting facilities – which are good, don’t get me wrong – this is targeting a group of people who have performed similar actions that you’re interested in. With email, you can target individual users and match people in groups who have a performed a set of actions with your brand.

From there, you can customise your email content based on their details and interests provided, open location and email open history, ensuring that your message is better targeted and not as generic. So instead of:

“Our stores have a massive sale on all items”, it’s now “Our Sydney store has a massive sale on all coats”.

Many popular email marketing systems (Campaign Monitor / Mailchimp) allow you to do just this with conditional dynamic content in both their subject lines and content bodies of emails. If you haven’t looked at doing this before, can’t see the value in it or don’t think it’s appropriate for your audience, I would highly recommend you try it at least a couple of times and see how your conversions / unsubscribes / open rates go.

Integration and tracking with Marketing Automation

If you have implemented marketing automation, either in-house or using a paid product, this is when you’ll start to reap the real benefits. Not only can you track individual users across your site and see what they’re interested in. You can start to get really savvy and update their profile based on their actions and places they visit on the site to better target them in future email campaigns.

Don’t have marketing automation?

Even if you don’t have marketing automation, you can implement a simple solution with the help of your web developer.

You could attach all links with a unique subscription I.D. that can then be saved by your site in the form of a cookie. From there, it can be used in conjunction with some smart Javascript to pass data back to your email system / CRM on certain events can be supremely beneficial.

Knowing when to use each medium

I can’t stress this enough, but I can put it in a big black box:

Knowing when to use each medium based on your desired goal, audience and past analytical data for each is crucial in determining the best approach.

Final thoughts

As you can see, email can be very powerful in providing uniquely targeted messages. It’s important to understand the benefits of email along with the benefits of gaining Facebook likes and more importantly, when and where to put your marketing dollars.

The other thing to note is the steady decline in organic reach of your Facebook page posts. If you’re thinking of hitting the boost post button to increase the reach, it’s probably cheaper and a better return to send an email and get an open rate of at 50% (assuming you have a decent subscriber base).

Original forest photo: Jonas Nilsson Lee, graphic by Dom Sammut.


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