I’ve been reading lot’s of conversations concerning the effectiveness of email marketing recently, which is heartening, because I’m still a big fan.
I’ve also been reading on some of my LinkedIn Groups how buying or renting email lists is still something that online marketers seriously consider.
Which just goes to show you once again that the more things change the more they stay the same. More on that further in the article.
EMAIL OUTPERFORMING FACEBOOK & TWITTER
What I mean, is that I’m not surprised to learn that good ol’ email marketing is CRUSHING social media sites like Twitter and Facebook for flat out selling, and is second only to search for generating online sales.
THE ORIGINAL SOCIAL MEDIA
I built an entire ecommerce pet supply business back in the late 1990’s based almost exclusively on email marketing. Ah, yes, those were the days — almost quaint in comparison to all the online marketing options available today. When I sold that business in 2006, Facebook was but a baby of only two years and hardly a force to be reckoned with. YouTube was started a year earlier in 2005 and was a mere curiosity, and Twitter wasn’t even invented until about a year later. The word “Web 2.0” was increasingly creeping into the online marketing conversation and social media marketing was mostly done on forums. But email marketing was really the original social media because it was the glue that held online communities together. Done right, people opted in to be kept informed about products, services and information. When I blasted out my weekly email newsletter to over 13,000 of my own subscribers, offering a mix of product sales and information, the orders would come predictably flowing in.
According to a recent CNN – Wired article, little ol’ email marketing is outperforming the much glossier and hyped up social media outlets by a wide margin:
“(The study) found that over the past four years, online retailers have quadrupled the rate of customers acquired through e-mail to nearly 7 percent.
Facebook over that same period barely registers as a way to make a sale, and the tiny percentage of people who do connect and buy over Facebook has stayed flat. Twitter, meanwhile, doesn’t register at all.”
Which continues to show that a well targeted email campaign that has VALUE to the reader can still be an effective tool in your online marketing toolbox.
IT’S HOME GROWN OR NOTHING
Which brings me to what still hasn’t changed regarding what I see as either lazy marketing practices, ignorance or both.
While there are many email list brokers who will swear otherwise, people continue to buy email lists in order to find that response rate that will generate sales. The problem, though, is that when you buy an email list, the people on that list have no relationship with you therefore the response will be very low if not non existent. And let me be clear about this: people argue, “But the list is opt-in.” Well, I assume that’s the case because if it wasn’t, that would be flat out SPAMMING, which is nothing a responsible business should be involved in. So yes, the list is technically opt-in. The subscriber signed up for some offer somewhere and agreed to receive emails from “partners” or “related offers.” That’s all wonderful but the point is still this: You have no relationship with that subscriber. Barging into their email inbox with your wonderful and amazing offer will probably not even get opened. Yes, doing painstaking phone follow up and repeated email drip campaigns will help improve the results, but if you’re actually going to do a concerted follow-up effort (kudos to you!) imagine how even BETTER those results would be if the email list of subscribers was home grown by your business?
And by “Home Grown,” I mean offering your website visitors ethical bribes like discounts, coupons, whitepapers — in essence, something of value — in exchange for their email address. That’s what home grown is all about!
I BOUGHT A MILLION NAMES
The reason this is an interesting topic for me is because a few years ago when I had my pet ecommerce business I clearly saw the value and power of email marketing for selling. In a hurry to grow my list I rented a list of 1 MILLION dog owners who had opted in to receive related pet offers. The price to do the email blast was $2,000, a LOT of money. I did my homework, I asked to see the landing page campaigns that they used to attract the subscribers and it all looked pretty good and, most importantly, relevant. The landing page had been a high quality dog food sampling site which meshed nicely with my health and wellness products and supplements for dogs.
My average online order at the time was $40 and estimating a one tenth of one percent order response rate I was already counting my profits of $40,000.
Long story short, I got zero orders, so they blasted it out a second time with some copy changes and that time I got a total of four orders! Four! Cost me $500 per order! Needless to say a very expensive lesson.
EMAIL VS SOCIAL MEDIA & OTHER LESSONS
I even had a shocking conversation with a self-professed email marketing expert who told me recently “But if I force people to confirm their subscriptions it will cut down on the number of people who opt in.” Yes, it will. It’s called Quality vs. Quantity. I also had someone tell me they would rather have 1,000 Facebook followers than 100 opt-in email subscribers, and herein lies the difference: Yes, it’s much harder to get optin email subscribers than to buy an email list or try and get lot’s of Facebook followers. But the fact that it is harder is what makes it better! The people who voluntarily opt-in to your email marketing program will be MUCH more responsive and valuable than social media followers or names you buy on a list. And when it comes to buying a list remember one thing: easy is not always better.