Every time I read or hear someone say that email marketing is dead, I have to chuckle and shake my head a bit. Why? Because there is still no better tool for building your online community.
Here are a few things that are often touted as the new best thing:
RSS – If you don’t know what this is, then I’ve already proven my point. For those of you who use RSS extensively, including myself, you may be lulled into thinking this is the best way to engage your community. Unfortunately, most people that subscribe to RSS feeds don’t read them all. They subscribe to too many feeds and, at best, only scan through them. The other obvious downside is although RSS has been around for many years now, it is still a very small part of the online world that uses them.
Twitter – How many people do you follow on Twitter? Now, how many people do you actually follow on Twitter? By that I mean that you actually read their tweets. Fifty? One hundred? Certainly not the thousands that most people are “following”. Someone following you on Twitter is about the lowest bar you can set for engaging with them. The odds of someone actually reading your tweets even though they are following you is pretty low. If you don’t believe me, sign up for a service like bit.ly and start tracking how many people are actually clicking on those links you put out.
Facebook – Read the above point by replacing “Twitter” with “Facebook” and “follow” with “friend”.
The truth is, your email list is your #1 asset for community building. Here’s why:
1. When someone requests that you email them, it is a huge sign of trust. Everybody already gets too much email, so the fact that they are requesting that you be another inbox item is a huge commitment.
2. People won’t check your website every day (or week) but they check their email every five minutes.
3. It’s much easier to ignore a status update than a new inbox item.
4. The people making money online use email marketing. I follow several people online that are “internet marketing gurus”. Despite what you may personally feel about some of these people, they are the ones actually making a lot of money online. And you know what? Every one of them would trade Twitter, Facebook, their blog and any other online asset to keep their email list. They make money off their email list.
Social networking, blogging and all the other tools out there serve their purpose and can help grow your community, but your email list is, by far, your most important asset. Above all else, focus on growing your email list.
July 19, 2010