Brett de Hoedt gets asked to train people in social media across Australia and of course he’s happy to oblige. He almost never gets asked to train people in eMarketing but he usually insists on adding it to the curriculum anyway.
Clients ask Brett to train in social media – they should really make a broader request:
“Train us to use whatever means at our disposal to best drive traffic to our website, build relationships with stakeholders, alert and inform people and look important. Most of all we want to convert as many people into taking some form of action with minimal effort.” That, dear Citizen, would be email.
Social media is new and sexy, eMarketing is old and familiar – but it should be your priority.
Definition: eMarketing is just communicating to people, usually lots of people at a time via email. We use MailChimp to do this; you may use Campaign Monitor, Vision 6 (bad idea) or something similar. Maybe you send mass email via Outlook (God help you.)
Email beats search engine optimisation and destroys social media as a way to drive conversion. You all owe email an apology.
The problem is this: in most cases, for most organisations in most situations…email beats the tight hipster jeans off social media. It ain’t even close as this study conducted by Monetate and reviewed by blog Convince and Convert shows. It is based on 500,000,000 website visits to e-commerce sites! Only .71% of people who came to a site via social media were converted into buyers. Email converted four times more. Only 1.55% of visits to e-commerce sites were delivered via social media. Email accounted for 2.82%. That’s a huge difference – would you like to nearly double your traffic?
The study investigates e-commerce sites but the goal in e-commerce is exactly the same as in the non-profit world: conversion. By “conversion” we mean inspiring people who see your message to take an action such as visiting your site, donating, buying or booking a ticket.
Why email wins?
The further you move from websites and email, the smaller your audience. We made this graphic ourselves. Can you tell?
Potential audience: aside from using the internet to search websites, email is still the second most common use of the WWW. As you move from using websites and email, to Facebook and Twitter your potential audience shrinks dramatically. At the end of this journey is Google +, Pinterest, Instagram and the like. Would you use mail to reach audiences if only 20% of people had addresses? How about if only 5% had addresses? Of course not.
Building your base: want to dramatically boost the size of your database? Of course you do. (If you don’t please resign.) Well that boost is easier said than done for social media which is usually slow to build. There are lots of ways to dramatically increase your email database – from competitions, petitions, to gaining emails from those who participate in your programs or in exchange for resources such as fact sheets and whitepapers.
Response: this is where email destroys the competition. Simply put – nothing beats email for driving traffic your website. A benchmark for the open rate to an email is 25%. 20% or less means that something is horribly wrong. Some Hootville clients have consistently scored 50% open rates. The equivalent to open rates on Facebook is “virality”. If your Facebook posts scored 25% virality you would be on the board of Facebook. A 1.5%-2% virality percentage is typical. Would you call 100 donors if you knew that on average only 2% of people would take your calls?
Segmentation: do you segment your Twitter followers or Facebook friends? With email this is standard operating procedure and a smart and easy move.
Automation: email can be set-up to automatically send emails based on time. Eg: seven days after subscribing you can send a thankyou and a list of seven articles to read. Eg: a year after a course was taken, send out an automated email alerting them to another course. You get the drift.
Portability: email is just as omnipresent as social media on smartphones and tablets.
Can you guess? Yep. Email wins again.
At risk of overplay the excellent downloadable Monetate report shows (left) that email-driven visitors spend more time on your site.
In defence of social media:
Social media plays a large part in building your reputation. That reputation may well assist people to act on your emails when they receive them.
Social media is fast, fun and free.
Social media is a far superior way to stay in the minds of politicians and media who devour social media like they once devoured flagons of tariff-protected claret and cartons of Viscount cigarettes. (Ask your parents about this.)
Social media is excellent for keeping hot-to-trot stakeholders informed and outraged. It’s grist for their mills. It keeps your most passionate followers attached to you.
You want to be a leader? Best look like one – get on social media.
Social media should be in most organisations’ marketing mix. Some organisations may be more inclined to benefit from it than most especially:
youth-related causes with youthful audiences;
passionate causes into which people opt-in such as animal causes, marriage equality, environment and dying with dignity causes. These audiences wants information, they want actions to take, they want grist for their kill.
However many of us are communicating with people who used our services long ago, donated once, are members because it is obligatory or because their loved one uses your service (among many others). These people are less passionate and do not want to follow your every tweet or Instagram image. (Who could blame them?)
They do however use email everyday to conduct their working lives.
Email needn't be boring.
Could your organisation function tomorrow without social media? What about if you lost email? Exactly.
It’s similar for your audiences – they can and do look at social media but they do and must look at email.
Finally: what brought you here? Email? Social media? Random Google search? Directly typing in our URL? Even with Hootville savvy, social-media literate audience nothing ever beats the ol’ Hootville Lowdown. Bless you email. Your comments welcome.