Good old fashioned email. Definitely not the new kid on the block when it comes to communicating with your readership. Can it really compete with all the newfangled alternatives? Guest author, Jason Kong shares how email not only holds its own, but surpasses social media as a powerful communication channel.
Establishing your writer platform requires several important decisions. One of those is how you choose to keep in touch with those who care about your work.
Thanks to the explosion of social media, there’s no shortage of online options. Everyone has heard of Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Pinterest is becoming more popular, and blogs remain so.
And then there’s email.
It’s a simple tool that hasn’t changed much since its inception. Still around, but hardly cutting edge. Is there a place for a technology that predates today’s social media?
The answer is yes, because an email list is one of the best ways to ensure your long-term success as an author. When powered by a service such as Aweber, email has some distinct and significant advantages over its social media counterparts.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits.
1) Email is more personal
Not all communication needs to be personal or private.
Much of social media takes place in a public setting. Tweets, posts, and pages are generated rapidly and endlessly. Free content that anyone can access and share is a good strategy for targeting an audience who wants what you offer.
Email works differently, though no less important. It’s a direct line of communication to an intimate environment, someone’s inbox. The messages will feel more personal.
Because trust enables the process. It will take trust for you to earn the right to send someone email in the first place. It will take trust to keep any attention you get. And it will take trust to make a sale.
The private nature of email isn’t enough to make someone a raving fan, obviously. You still have to do good work that’s valued by your audience, and your outreach needs to be relevant to their interests.
Just realize that a personal context may help deepen your relationships, and email excels at that.
2) Email is a better marketing medium
There are times when you’ll be asking your audience to take action.
You’ll have an idea to spread, a cause to support, or a book to sell. Your ability to get cooperation depends on the goodwill you’ve built and a compelling promise for those ultimately helping you out.
Is social media a good venue for these types of promotions? That depends on who you ask. Some see nothing wrong with the occasional pitch, while others see social media as a connecting platform — not a selling one.
On the other hand, there’s evidence that people have a strong preference towards email for receiving permission-based promotional messages. Whether that’s because email has more history as a business medium is unclear, but other recent studies show it’s still a top online marketing option.
Marketing your work will be a priority throughout your career. Email remains extremely effective for getting those conversions and sales.
3) Email is more flexible
There’s a flavor of social media for just about any communication preference.
Do you like exchanging brief messages and links? Twitter is good for that.
Do you favor the use of images? Pinterest may be up your alley.
Do you write long, in-depth essays on a given topic? Blogging could be right for you.
In many cases, you’re selecting the social media tool based on specific criteria. You need to create in a certain format, or reach a specific niche. These constraints determine your choice of medium.
With email, there’s tremendous functional flexibility. You can write long or short. Include images or video. You can send daily messages if you’d like, or simply update readers when you have something important or relevant to say. There’s less pressure to adhere to a standard practice, because email usage is so varied. You get to decide.
Sometimes it’s nice to be able to adapt the tool to your world rather the other way around.
4) Email is subscriber count friendly
If you had over 8.5 million Twitter followers, you’d want everyone to know. Why is that?
It’s the same reason your influence increases when you attain bestseller status or have tons of 5 star reviews on Amazon. Your perceived popularity is reinforced when people look for–and find–cues that affirm your status. Psychologists call this social proof, and it’s a phenomenon that causes you to choose behaviour that conforms to others in situations of limited information.
In essence, it’s the bandwagon effect, and it’s easier to become more popular when you’re already regarded as popular by the masses. Unfortunately, it can work in the reverse direction too. Building a following is harder when it’s clear you don’t have much of one.
Unknown writers and unpublished authors know this well. And when it comes to most social media, you don’t have the choice to hide your subscriber count. Your number of followers or friends is prominently displayed next to your profile/bio whether that helps you or not.
With email, the size of your list is for your eyes only until you decide otherwise. That’s why it’s subscriber count friendly.
5) Email is less vulnerable to digital sharecropping
Everything you build online is an asset.
That includes your communication channels, particularly your list of subscribers. It’s much more expensive to find a new customer than it is to retain an old one, so these contacts are extremely valuable.
If your list is integrated with your free social media tool, you’re at serious risk. That’s called digital sharecropping and you have a rented asset, not one you own. Circumstances beyond your control can cause you to lose your subscriber list leaving you with little or no recourse. That would be a catastrophe.
You can eliminate this risk if your list is maintained as part of an email service, like Aweber. In this case you may be paying a small fee, but you own your list, unlike a free service. Your list is much safer.
Protecting yourself against digital sharecropping may be reason alone to consider using an email marketing service.
Email is not dead
Not yet, anyway.
If you’re not using email in conjunction with an email service, then you may want to reconsider. There are clear benefits over social media, and you don’t want to miss out just because email isn’t very sexy nor shiny.
Of course, nothing says you have to use just one communication channel. Most authors will find a combination of email and social media to be more optimal for their writer platforms. Evaluate your options and experiment for yourself.
Just be sure that you don’t dismiss email without some deliberation. Check out Kimberley’s The Writer’s Guide to Building an Email List for additional insight.
Do you use email as one of your primary means of communication with your audience? If not, why not?
About Jason Kong