I think the term “viral marketing” is often used in a rather dangerous way, which leaves the door more than open for wrong expectations and misunderstandings. So I will stick with the phrase “creating buzz”, for this article – which does in most cases not involve anything going viral at all.
I was a little surprised (wow that is a mild word for it) that the speaker in his talk, put newsletters in comparison to social media, stating that email marketing would not be the thing to create “buzz” in today’s marketing world anymore. The argument was, that usually not many people are going to share your newsletter, while if you are lucky, a ton of people could share whatever you posted in social media. And this way you could not get the same amount of buzz with sending a newsletter as with social media.
Well, that might even be true, but…
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Now, you probably know that I am a huge fan of social media, so I am certainly not going to talk down to social media. But I think it is highly due to show a little more respect for email marketing.
Good Email Marketing is not Spam
I recently signed up for a newsletter, because I wanted to get some special freebie. Since then I receive the insane amount of more than one update per day. And I love each one of them. Not because I can use every tiny bit of information these newsletters give me. But they provide so much insight and free stuff, that I am looking forward to opening the next email and see what might be in it for me.
Now this is certainly a diamond between all the crap newsletters you can sign up for. But the lesson learned here is: Email marketing is a great tool for marketing and not dead at all. If it does not work for you, then you are most likely doing it wrong. And if you get a lot of crap newsletters, you only signed up for some bad ones, who are not getting it right either.
Marketing is about Connecting to an Audience
As I see it, different forms of (online) marketing are UN-equally good at establishing a real connection with your audience. And since the ability to connect with the different forms of online marketing, the chances of “selling” – or doing business – with someone from that audience is different for each marketing technique based on the level of connection you can establish with it. And the trick is to guide people from one connectivity level to the next until they become customers or business partners.
People come to you via a Google search. This is somewhat random. Chances are high these people have not heard of you before. Often they were not exactly looking for what you provide. If you are lucky, they take a look around, and then they leave again for the next search result.
Search traffic is great, if you earn your money with advertisements on your site, as Google can target the Adsense advertisements exactly at these searches. But for building a connection with an audience, this is not the best audience you can wish for.
If we can associate any connection with this audience, it is very impersonal. You do not know who they are, you cannot talk to them, and most likely they will leave again for good.
To keep in contact with these people and have the option of a second or even third “meeting” with them, you can either use remarketing – or try to push these visitors over to your other marketing channels: Social Media or your Email marketing list.
Social Media Audience
The ability to connect varies in different networks. Still, people, who are following you, are not going away once they received one Tweet or one Facebook update. You can connect with them, give them information and simply stay on their radar over and over again.
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Thus, it is possible to establish real connections with your audience in social media. You can grow trust and your reputation. You can grow your network and the amount of people you can reach.
Still it is not only Facebook’s Reach algorithm that keeps you from being able to reach each and every person who is following you. On Twitter and Pinterest it is the sheer mass of updates running through most peoples’ feeds, making it impossible to see every update.
While you can establish connections within social media, it is not the best way to do so. And thus, it is also not the best form of marketing if you want to sell or find new business partners. In a way, social media is a nice and unobtrusive way of establishing the first contact with many people.
It may sound like a hell of a buzz if your news gets several hundred retweets and a potential reach of a couple of hundred thousand – the reality shows this is not the number you reach with your social media update, and the impact is far less than it could be in another audience…
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Email Marketing Audience
Now, here is your chance of speaking directly to people. The downside is, your newsletter is only visible to your subscribers, and the speaker I mentioned in the introduction to this article is right in one thing: Your subscribers are not very likely to (re-)share your newsletter to all of their friends and business partners.
A newsletter list for your Email marketing needs to be actively grown. And once you start playing your newsletter audience, it is up to you what you make of it. But you have the unique chance of getting in touch again and again. Providing good content and information instead of annoying your audience with repeated sales messages, you can not only grow trust and your reputation, but you can also establish a real connection.
Of the three mentioned marketing techniques from my perspective, Email Marketing has the highest chance of really selling anything and not only create some buzz but also impact. To generate the same amount of “business”, you certainly need more social followers than newsletter subscribers – and from my experience, I would say you need even more search traffic. You do not need to create such a huge buzz with email marketing than with social media when you did your audience building right and have some loyal subscribers.
If you use your Email marketing well, you can even get your subscribers to socially share your message and start your buzz from there. And even better: This also works the other way round. Why not use your social accounts to grow your subscriber list? It is possible to mature a social media follower into a subscriber of a well-done newsletter.
Note on the side:
In the above-mentioned presentation about creating buzz for businesses, the success was measured in reach=potentially reached the audience. This is a very dangerous number. Just because I have over 170000 Followers on Twitter does in no way mean that each of my tweets will reach any number close to 100000. The percentage of your audience which a well-done newsletter can reach is much higher than the actual reach of social media updates.
In the end, it depends on what kind of “buzz” you are looking for: Numbers in reach and traffic to brag with? Or real business? And then it all again depends on the targeting…
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