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Email marketing:
Why we base our method around it

For the “core” of automated online marketing, there are two main alternatives in terms of overall technology:

  1. Email, where you engage your prospect (“Sam”) and get him to buy via “autoresponder” campaigns;
  2. Social media, where you engage him and get him to buy via various social platforms.

We consistently use email marketing as our core strategy, rather than social media—and we can make that decision in advance, without even knowing anything about your particular company, your particular challenges, or your particular audience. In fact, although making this call might seem rash, it’s a no-brainer—for five reasons:

1 Simple numbers

Social media v. emailA Radicati Group study estimates there are somewhere between 2.5 and 3 billion email users in the world, with nearly 5 billion email accounts. Almost 120 billion business emails are sent and received per day, and about 100 billion consumer emails. The two largest social platforms combined don’t even have half that number of users: Facebook has about 1.2 billion daily active users, and Twitter has about 100 million daily active users. If you imagine a full cup of rice is the number of emails sent every day, then by comparison, all the daily posts on Facebook would make a miserable 10 grains—barely enough to pick up with a chopstick. And all the tweets sent every day would be a measly 4 grains. Facebook and Twitter’s daily posts combined make up less than 1% the number of business and consumer emails sent each day.

2 Email as a transactional medium is four times more effective than social (38× ROI)

A 2016 study showed that, on average, every $1 spent on email marketing produced $38 in sales. If things have changed since then, it’s for the better—thanks to advancing automation technology. Email subscribers are over four times as likely to buy than social media followers. Customers already expect to get offers by email—and to purchase based on those offers. They therefore have a high tolerance for offers, and are more likely to be in a buying frame of mind when they read email. On social platforms they are generally there to catch up with friends, browse frivolous content, and play games.

Using email, you can “train” your customers to expect offers while simultaneously teaching them about your value—day in and day out. Your best prospects therefore begin to not only expect offers from you, but to desire them. And because you have the ability to make effectively unlimited contacts, you are infinitely more likely to catch them at a time when they’re ready to buy. Which leads into the third reason:

3 Email gets 14× more attention per customer than any other medium

Recent research from Ecommerce Quarterly shows that email users are 14 times more likely to see your message in the first place. Facebook and Google can limit who sees your posts or ads—and they make you pay for every click. But email always goes to every subscriber you intend it to—for virtually no cost at all.

You’re far more likely to get face time with your prospects if you use email, because email contact is “invasive.” Social is a huge content environment featuring hundreds of other messages in competition with your own. So it won’t stay top of mind even if Sam sees it. In his inbox, by contrast, your message is persistent, and doesn’t go away until he takes some action. He can easily save it, search for it, and respond to it whenever he wants to. Provided you say things worth reading, he will therefore give you minutes of his time each day. (Minutes are like dog years on the internet.) Indeed, research shows that most people open email from a maximum of 16 “trusted advisers”—and they almost always open these emails. If you can get into this inner circle, you get undivided attention. That is what our method (the quest) is all about.

4 Email is the most personal and professional medium

In the vast majority of cases, business-minded people don’t go to Facebook for private, 1-on-1 conversations. They write an email. Emails are like the letters of the internet; they simulate a personal connection far better than status updates or tweets ever could, while being extremely easy to automate and track. True—1-on-1 conversations through social platforms will always be more personal still. But these cannot be automated, whereas anyone replying to your email can start a 1-on-1 conversation with your sales team in their mailbox, and you can easily track it. Moreover, social messages lack professional gloss. When it comes to building real business relationships, the “grown-up” medium is email.

5 Email is years ahead in terms of advanced automation

This brings us to the final reason that email kills social stone dead: automation. While it is certainly possible—and increasingly so—to automate social media marketing with fancy online tools, the state of the technology is still basically in beta. Email, by contrast, is a mature, robust option where all the kinks and difficulties have been long ironed out. Most importantly, it is virtually impossible to replicate the kind of content journey with social media that eventually leads people to buy. With email automation, creating, adapting, and iterating on this kind of content quest is a breeze.

How we use email quests to trounce the averages described above

Many people think automated email marketing doesn’t work very well. As we’ve shown, this is false, even in the average—but you have to know what you’re doing to get the right results. If you do know what you’re doing, you can get much better results than the averages revealed in the research we’ve cited. Indeed, in many cases we can easily double these figures.

We do this using an adaptive content journey we call the quest. To learn more about this, check out our content marketing & strategy page—or, if you’re already sold, start a conversation to see how we could make email marketing work in your own business.

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