Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized the marketing world, creating whole new pathways for brands to connect with potential customers. But even social media platforms rely on email to interact with users.
That’s something marketers need to pay closer attention to, says Josh Spector, creator of For the Interested, a successful email newsletter.
“Have you ever noticed how every social media platform constantly wants to email you?” Spector asked. “All their notifications are defaulted to send you emails all the time.”
The lesson? Email remains “the single best way to reach people,” and brands need to prioritize email in their marketing efforts, said Spector.
“If Twitter or Facebook were so sure that email was dead and their platforms were better, they wouldn’t be bothering to send you emails,” he said. “They would just let you know on Facebook. But they know that email is still the best way to get people’s attention.”
Spector, a recent guest on the Pushing Send Podcast, speaks from experience. In four years, For the Interested has gained more than 25,000 subscribers, offering content that helps subscribers “learn, do and become.”
For email gurus like Spector, the email inbox holds an edge over social media for multiple reasons. For one, email is direct. It also functions independent of algorithms designed to elevate or hide content. It has a lot of range in its reach, allowing users to send a broad message or target a very specific audience.
Email also provides brands more ownership, said Sanchit Gupta, who works with creators and brands to scale and grow their platforms. Gupta noted social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram rely on companies to pay for advertising. With email, brands own their list of subscribers.
“Do something where you own the relationship,” Gupta said. “The best thing for that is email… You own the relationship with your audience.”
Avoiding social media ‘noise’
Kurt Elster, a successful ecommerce consultant, leveraged email newsletters to build a thriving business helping Shopify store owners unleash their revenue potential. The decision to use email over social media and social media ads was deliberate, Elster said.
Trying to give your audience a specific message through social media is very difficult because “there’s so much noise on it,” he said.
“Even if you think about Facebook retargeting ads, there’s no practical way to have someone visit your site and then have them see a different message from you every day and guarantee they see it,” Elster said.
Instead, he relied on email to reach out directly to people who would be interested in the service he had to offer.
Email is such a part of our routine that “people don’t get excited about it, he said.
“It’s not cool because it’s been around forever,” he said.
That said, the fact that Facebook and other social media use email to send updates to users shows that even platforms themselves struggle with rising above the noise. It’s that much harder for brands that are trying to target certain audiences, Elster said. Email allows the sender to segment audiences based on what content is most helpful, he added.
Elster noted email drives roughly 70% of revenue for his ecommerce clients, even more for some. That’s a solid rate of return, especially for brands that don’t have a lot of money to throw into advertising, he said.
‘Just about everybody has an email address’
Another lesson from Facebook’s email approach? There are still more people with email accounts than social media accounts, Spector said. The distinction between email and social media comes down to accessibility, he added.
There were roughly 3.9 billion email users worldwide in 2019, a number that’s expected to reach 4.4 billion by 2024, according to an analysis by research firm Statista. By comparison, Facebook reported 1.6 billion daily active users in January 2020. Twitter has roughly 126 million daily users.
“As much as social media has grown and become huge, the reality is … not everybody is on Facebook, Spector said. “Just about everybody has an email address.”