How to Bypass Social Media Tollbooths with Email Content Marketing
Understand this: That network of Facebook followers you’ve spent time, effort and money building - you don’t own them.
Every day, social media is becoming more of a “pay to play” environment. On Facebook, for example, you need to pay to acquire the followers and then you’re still asked asked to pay a “toll” each time you actually want to communicate with them. These tolls have lots of different names: Sponsored Stories, Facebook Ads and Promoted Posts.
The costs of social media tolls can add up quickly - and, since social media platform monetization still hasn’t been completely figured out, I’m willing to bet that a lot more tollbooths are going to be built in the coming years.
If you’re not paying these tolls, even Facebook admits, only approximately 16% of your “followers” are ever exposed to any given status update.
With email marketing, you can be certain that a significantly larger percentage of the list you send to is exposed to your message. Compared to Facebook, the costs for email marketing are minimal - plus you get the added benefit of owning the list you build. You can contact the email addresses on that list whenever you want for the reasonable monthly costs of an email service provider.
As you can probably guess, many business owners are beginning to ask themselves: Why should I spend money attracting social media followers, that carry additional costs each time I want to communicate with them, when I could be spending the same money building an email list that I have much more control over?
A valid question for sure - but also one with a complex answer: You really should be building both - your social media following and your email list.
The good news is that a few small strategy refinements can help you get both jobs done at the same time -- without paying any tolls at all.
Invest in Engagement for a ride around the Virtuous Rotary
Almost all email service providers offer social sharing functionality. This is a feature you should always have activated.
If you write remarkable newsletters - some recipients will use those integrated social sharing links to spread your content across their social graphs, resulting in a dramatic increase in the reach of your messaging at no added cost or effort.
Instead of paying tolls to attract new users, or get in front of your existing users, you should be leveraging your creativity and marketing savvy to increase the social sharing of your newsletter content.
The more social shares you can make happen, the more chances you’ll have to attract new subscribers, the more subscribers you get, the more social shares will happen. The more people reading and sharing your content, the more followers your social media accounts will organically attract.
It all leads to a virtuous rotary of content consumption, opt-ins, follows and social sharing occurring in places where social media tollbooths never impede your progress.
Crafting share-worthy content is ridiculously important - it has to glisten with headlines that raise heart rates - but great content alone does not guarantee results.
If you want an increase in social sharing to take place, you need to work on honing your engagement skills. You need to create readers with with vested interests in paying your content forward. You need to make your readers feel like they are part of something, that their voices and actions are being appreciated. You need to use insights and metrics to monitor what is happening, who is commenting, who is sharing - and then make the effort to recognize each and every one of them in some small (or huge) way...every time they do it.
Nothing is more important than the people who are helping you spread the word about your business. Reward them. Engage them. Get creative with it.
Synchronize your Digital Marketing - Conversions work both ways!
Promote your social media accounts through your newsletters. Promote your newsletters through your social media accounts. Promote your social media accounts and your newsletters through your website. The more avenues you can use to get in front of people, the better off your business will be - if you use them all responsibly.
The work you do to convert social media followers into email subscribers - and email subscribers into social media followers - needs to be part of a long-term and ongoing strategy.
How do you encourage the conversions? That’s easy. Incentives. Coupons. Contests. Giveaways. Free content downloads. Exclusive rewards only available to those who opt-in.
Schedule sporadic “Reminder” updates for your social media accounts, educating followers about the benefits of “opting in” to your email newsletters.
Always immediately address what’s in it for them. Don’t hit them with a sales pitch. Instead, give them something to covet - offer value.
Put up links on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to the web version of a compelling sample newsletter packed full of mind candy they can’t refuse. Exclusive giveaways. Exclusive content. Exclusive fun. Exclusive promotions. Exclusive excitement - all of it clearly labelled as “only available to newsletter registrants”.
And, like I said, conversion works both ways. Use your newsletters to offer similar incentives to those who haven’t yet followed your social media accounts.
Pull out the Muscle Car content marketing strategies
Make sure your website/blog has a prominently placed opt-in box on every page. Don’t hide it - use premium screen real estate, above the fold, someplace where they can’t miss it.
This opt-in box is working around the clock, tirelessly building you a client list you can reach out to whenever you want. The opt-in box is arguably the most important thing on your website - treat it with the respect it deserves.
Also, make sure that all of your blog post pages have social share buttons - and easy ways to connect with your social media accounts.
Now - create some stellar “registration required” content pieces your audience won’t be able to refuse. Ebooks. Whitepapers. On-demand informative videos. Or go all out and schedule a live webinar with expert guest speakers - and then make participants opt-in as the cost of admission.
Take the best piece of exclusive content you’ve created and use it as an incentive on your opt-in box. Give visitors to your website a reason to part with their email address.
Write blog posts that whet readers appetites’ for those other exclusive pieces of content you’ve created - and then use a link, a landing page and all of your marketing charisma to persuade your readers to opt-in for access to your valuable content.
The Car Cliché Summary
Get the engine on your email-list-building engine cranking, rev it up with user-engagement, make sure the tank is always full of highly shareable content -- and then set your cruise control with automated content-marketing strategies and ride towards the sunset with the wind in your hair.
Before long, you’ll be cruising down the scenic highway of digital marketing with a lot less social media tollbooths slowing you down. The only time you’ll need to pay the tolls is when you really want to turbo-charge your journey - and that decision is always up to you.
Authored by Eric Taubert