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Email list or social media followers – which is best?

Yesterday, I heard Scott Stratten talk about business awesomeness in a webinar run by the Australian Businesswomen’s Network (ABN) and the above statement stuck in my mind.

Traditional or modern?

For many years, building a list was the key to online success according to many marketers and people worked hard to get more email addresses.

Now, the list isn’t mentioned as much but there is much talk of being on social media – and some will certainly imply or say that the more followers the better.

Is it just a sign of the times that social media is taking over from email lists and html newsletters?

Fractional reaction and social media

Scott uses the term fractional reaction to show how limited social media exposure can be.

Let’s say you have 100 Twitter followers and you tweet something important at 1o am. How many of those followers will be watching their Twitter feed at 10am? If they are not looking, there’s a very good chance they won’t see your tweet. How often do you go back very far in your social media feeds to check you haven’t missed something?

Email lists

On the other hand, if you send an email at 10am and I’m offline, it will still be in my inbox when I get online.

Email or social media, I may ignore your message because there are too many things to choose between or because it doesn’t interest me. But Scott is saying more will at least see your email. And your email has more chance of being opened if you have built a reputation of sending emails worth reading.

Of course, the other advantage of an email list is that it is yours.

And thus you have control over contacting those people to build your relationship and business.

So which give the best results?

If you have tried both email marketing and social media marketing, which has given you the best results?

Here are some of my thoughts…

It really isn’t easy to put a (return on investment) ROI on social media as some it is based on relationship building, gaining credibility as a thought leader, exposure and learning as well as direct marketing – social media doesn’t work just as a marketing tool.

Social media can take a lot of time to make regular posts, although often in short bursts, whereas writing emails tends to take bigger blocks of time.

With the use of automated emails, the same email can be used over and over in a way that just can’t apply to social media.

If you leave a social media platform or it stops, you lose those followers. Likewise if the platform changes rules, you may find it harder to stay in front of your followers – for example, if they start charging.

I hadn’t really thought about comparing the two options before hearing Scott yesterday. Yet I can see a lot of wisdom in his words.

Of course, there is no reason to not build both an email list and a social media following but which is worth more time and effort? Is a social media following worth pursuing at the expense of your email list?

I know I have put less effort into building an email list than I used to – and now I am rethinking that. Something to consider at my next working on my business session!

Is this a new perspective for you, too?

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3 Responses to Email list or social media followers – which is best?

  • Susan Oakes says:

    Hi Tash,

    I think it is a case of it depends and you can’t directly compare the two. It is like saying should you use TV advertising versus direct mail. Both have merits and both can be used in different ways. It also depends on whether your customers are on the platforms and how they use them.

    I don’t know how Scott can say more will see your email without some evidence to back it up. Also I do think you can put an ROI re social media and you need to otherwise how can you justify the time. I look at social media as networking platforms. I do agree with you about the changes as you only have to look at what Facebook has done with reducing the number of who sees your posts. At least with email you have more control.

    In the end it is a case as with all tactics to select those that will help achieve objectives.
    Susan Oakes recently posted…Could A Touch Of Simplicity Attract Customers?My Profile

    • Tash Hughes says:

      Thanks for such a comprehensive comment, Susan.

      To be fair to Scott, he explains his fractional reaction in depth in his book so may give more evidence than I have credited him with. But my gut instinct agrees with that because it is so easy to miss a social media update whereas an email will wait until I look into my inbox – of course, I can ignore either one just as easily, however, if it doesn’t appeal to me!

      I personally haven’t consciously compared the two – the real lesson I got from the webinar was to not let social media take over email marketing just because it is so visible and discussed more, and thus relook at my own newsletter list next time I take some strategy time. I may not change much but it is good to think about what suits my business instead of blindly following one path.

      • Susan Oakes says:

        I didn’t know he had another book out which makes sense that he would go into more detail. I totally agree with you about thinking about what suits your business as that is all that matters. It is funny I am reading more saying back off social media at the moment, even from those that used it extensively like Scott with Twitter to build their business.
        Susan Oakes recently posted…Identify Stress Drivers To Get New CustomersMy Profile

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