I realised recently that whatever you think about Uber, they have managed to pull off an impressive marketing trick that most companies can only dream of. They’ve managed to insert their name into the English language in place of the generic name for the type of service they offer, and they’ve done it in a very short space of time. People don’t use Uber to book a taxi, they book an Uber. People think of it as a completely different type of service, when the basic utility they are getting, moving themselves from A to B is the same, and it’s mostly the same cars and the same drivers moving people around, customers are just using a different system to book their taxi. Uber themselves would debate they are offering a taxi service and have even fought court cases over it, but it seems pretty plain to me.
With all the benefits that social media can bring to your business, it’s easy to overlook the humble email, but if you do you’re really missing a trick. Let me explain why.
If you use a Facebook page for your business, when you post a message, on average only 10% of your followers will see that message. Facebook tweak their software that way, because they can charge people to make their posts more visible. A similar percentage applies to Twitter where most of your followers will be following hundreds if not thousands of other accounts, so unless they happen to be looking at their feed the moment you post, it’s likely they won’t see it.
In contrast, if you send someone an email you can almost guarantee they are going to know about it. Admittedly there’s always a chance they could delete it without reading it, but at least they know you said something.
The difference between social media and email is like the difference between traditional advertising and direct marketing. With advertising lots of people will see it, lots won’t, and only a small percentage of those that do will be interested. With direct marketing you know exactly who’s going to see it and you can be fairly sure they’ll be interested because (hopefully) they signed up to your mailing list.
With the buzz and excitement around social media the last few years I’ve seen many small businesses become fixated on getting more likes or follows, and it’s not necessarily time well spent. While social media can be a hugely powerful tool to promote your business it’s almost like most people have forgotten email exists when they think about their marketing strategy. Before social media came along the email mailing list was the main way businesses kept their customers updated. As I often say about technology, when something new comes along it doesn’t make the old thing suddenly become less useful. (which is why I use one of these)
So if you don’t already have an email list it’s really worth starting one, either via your website or getting addresses in person. You can keep it simple by just storing them in a spreadsheet, or use something like MailChimp. If you go with the spreadsheet option you can always import it into MailChimp or a similar tool later.
Once you have the list I’d advise doing a mailout no more frequently than once a month, so as not to annoy people, keep it to 2 or 3 paragraphs and spend a bit of time thinking about it.
Thanks for reading and if you follow this advice let me know how you got on. You can comment here or tweet me @RobinStent.