Many Social Media pundits have stated that “email is dead.” Social media applications like Facebook and Twitter have killed email.
With 500 million users on Facebook it may not be a stretch to understand why all the “Chicken Little’s” are going around the chicken coop yelling “the sky is falling!” on email marketing. But Chicken Little was wrong, and so are the “experts.”
Email marketing still makes money in a relatively low cost way. There are numerous online vendors for small and medium size businesses which offer free or low cost email marketing tools that include analytics (so you can see what works and what does not work). I use MailChimp which promises it is always free for less than 500 email addresses, and I’m quite impressed with its abilities and the staff’s responsiveness. One great thing about MailChimp (and a competitor, Constant Contact) is that both have recently integrated Social Media into their offers. Constant Contact announced Social Stats which tracks Facebook “Likes,” tweets, Linked In posts and such. Social media statistics are shown on the email analytics report. With MailChimp their social sharing tool lets you post your email marketing campaign on your social networks with one click in your campaign dashboard. Be careful, though. Social Network users HATE “sales pitches” and you can destroy your credibility. Like Constant Contact, MailChimp lets you you can track the activity on those networks, too.
I’ve mentioned Constant Contact and MailChimp which are great for small and medium size companies, as is iContact. There are even more out there: AWeber and Vertical Response are two more.
According to Forrester Research, email marketing is growing, not dying.
Considering that you can email for free (MailChimp) then Forrester’s research should impress you that you can indeed make money via email marketing. Their research shows that ROI is two to three times higher with email marketing than with any other form of direct marketing. Two thirds of the marketing executives interviewed concurred that email marketing is the most cost-effective marketing tool they have.
So much for the death knell!
Far too often techno-geeks (and hey, I like to think that I AM one) decry the death of a technology when something new comes along. Fact is that it takes a while to kill things off. There are still people using land line telephones, TVs with picture tubes, and even horse buggy whips. Direct mailers still “snail mail” catalogs. Billboards still blight our nation’s highways. Newspapers still get printed.
So, no, email is not dead. When it comes to making money with technology, email (with opt-in permission so that you are not SPAMMING) is a very efficient way of communicating sales or new offerings to your customers.
Social media is a fantastic communications media, but it is not meant to be a sales tool (well, not directly). If you pitch a sale on Facebook you are likely to get flamed and slammed. Social media is all about conversations, and if along the way people come to hear of a great new product, and buy it — terrific! Yet, Facebook and others are more likely to be a passive, indirect sales channel rather than an immediate one. The only difference is an entity like Dell Outlet who may tweet a special sale on Twitter — but most of us are not Dell. You have to be in a unique position to be able to use Twitter or Facebook as a sales platform directly.
Email marketing and social media are not an “either / or” decision of email OR social media for making money. Email marketing is still a very strong approach for staying in touch with customers and cross-selling and up-selling into your base. Social media is a wonderful way to stay in touch more often than you can via email (without irritating your base). Both are complimentary if used properly, and the email marketing tools with their integration efforts can help you do that — as long as you abide by the “rules” of both email marketing and social media and enhance your customer’s experience. Don’t over stay your welcome in either venue.