Email or social media – which marketing channel is more effective?
Well, it depends on who you ask.
But one thing is for sure: data shows both are powerful lead generation and conversion tools. What’s more, you can use them together to maximize their effect.
What can you do to make the most of each channel? How does one support the other so they can both help you accomplish your goals?
Let’s take a look at some of the most important things to keep in mind while growing your email list with social media.
Before we dive in, here’s what the most recent industry reports show:
- Email now has 3.9 billion active users worldwide.
- Social media is slightly less popular, with 3.4 billion users worldwide.
- When it comes to which channel people prefer for promos, there’s a big gap: 60% say they like email, while only 20% favour social media.
- Email also fosters higher engagement and more conversions than social media.
Judging by these stats, email clearly wins when it comes to:
- building long-term relationships with prospects and customers, and generating more conversions.
But does that mean you should stop investing in social media and focus all your efforts on email? Not at all.
On the contrary: email and social media work hand in hand, and when you nail them both, you’re in for some neat results.
“While social media allows us to expose our brand to new audiences, email is perfect for nurturing, warming up and, eventually, converting prospects,” says Mehdi Hussen, Digital Marketing Manager at SalesHandy.
“Social media drives consistent traffic to our website and blog, and can do that for any kind of business,” Hussen adds. “Once people get there, you want to entice them to subscribe to your email list. Onboard them in your sales funnel and nurture them with your best content,” advises the digital marketing specialist.
His formula has been around for years – and for good reason. It works.
But when growing your email list with social media, it pays to be aware of the pitfalls you may encounter. Not only does this prevent you from wasting any efforts, but an agile and lucrative approach helps you reach your goals faster.
Ready to begin? Here’s what I learned from personal experience and by talking to some of my peers.
Table of Content
1. Organic growth doesn’t happen overnight
You know those ads you see – mostly on social media – with digital entrepreneurs who claim they can teach you how to grow your list overnight?
While some of the tips you find on blogs or in online courses are priceless, there’s one thing you should know: organic growth takes time.
So, if you feel like you haven’t gotten many subscribers via social media so far, don’t feel discouraged. With email marketing booming right now, people have become more reluctant to give out their email addresses. Consider it a personal victory whenever someone joins your list: it’s a sign you’re doing a good job.
Also, if you’re just starting out, you should know this is going to be a long ride.
Are you in it for the long haul?
Then you already have a winning mentality. Being patient and persistent yields results.
Of course, you can boost your reach by investing in ads, but do you want to know how to grow your list with social media for free? You can steal some of the ideas below – they’re easy to apply.
Use the Facebook call-to-action button
Go to your Facebook business page. On the right, under your cover photo, you should see a customizable call-to-action (CTA) button. Now, go ahead and edit it and link your email subscription page so people can sign up for your emails.
You may wonder how many people see that button and how many end up clicking it to subscribe. Here’s what Uwe Dreissigacker, CEO of InvoiceBerry, shared with me:
“We’ve activated that button from day one. Instead of trying to get people on our mailing list, we customized the CTA to direct visitors straight to our registration page. The number of people who follow that CTA has never been huge, but it does bring in a steady stream of traffic to our site,” Dreissigacker said.
Talk about your emails on social media
Are you proud of your newsletter? Do you send marketing offers people can’t get anywhere else? Talk about it on social media.
For instance, a couple of days before your newsletter goes out, post a teaser on all your channels. If you’re planning to send exclusive content, let people know. This way, your followers get a chance to subscribe and not miss out on your informative and helpful emails.
2. Enable social proof by publishing testimonials
Has anyone ever told you how much they enjoy your emails? Ask them for permission to use that feedback as a testimonial. Few things work better in getting people to try something new than hearing others raving about it. You could post that testimonial on your social media channels, on your homepage, and on any other channel your audience hangs out.
Also, if your newsletter gets praise in a prestigious publication, don’t hesitate to use that to grow your list.
Take this example from Kara Cutruzzula, journalist and author of the Brass Ring Daily newsletter. Vanity Fair said it’s “like a life coach in your inbox,” and Kara added that to her LinkedIn profile. It does entice you to subscribe, doesn’t it?
3. You may be gathering invalid and other risky email addresses
Now that you’ve got the ball rolling, I bet you’ll be happy to see your email list grow. Every new subscriber validates your effort and motivates you to pursue your goal.
There’s only one question you should be asking yourself anytime you see a new email address on your list: is that address valid and real?
See, not all email addresses are the same. Some are genuine and belong to people who want to hear from you. Others are temporary or invalid, and certain users have a habit of flagging emails as spam. The next one could be yours.
To quote the famous Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” The same applies to email addresses. Except for when you implement a way to verify the validity of those addresses. To be safe, here are a couple of ways.
Make double opt-in a standard
Did you know that email lists that use the double opt-in subscription method generate higher open and click rates? According to a Get Response study, in countries like France or Germany – where double opt-in is the norm – senders get better engagement.
Although it requires an extra step for people to get on your mailing list, this is a healthier and safer way to grow your email list.
This way, you’re most likely to get subscribers who are genuinely interested in hearing from you.
Andrea Loubier, CEO of Mailbird, confirms. “Not only do we use double opt-in for our own list,” she says, “but we recommend it to all of our partners and customers. It’s not bulletproof, as bots can still click your confirmation link, but it gives you an extra layer of defence against risky addresses.”
Below you’ll see an example of a confirmation email I received from The Guardian when I subscribed to their list:
The Guardian takes things one step further and offers new subscribers the option to choose their preferences. You can do that, too.
Setting up a double opt-in shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes. Check with your email service provider. Almost every platform offers this option, and you just have to enable it.
Use a real-time email verification API
Do you clean your email list of bad contacts regularly? Data becomes stale, so it’s wise to stay on top of its natural decay. Also, with the pandemic causing millions of people to lose their jobs, your B2B email lists may have degraded severely.
What is a bad email address?
A bad email address is one that is likely to bounce and affect your email deliverability.
So, first, validate your list in bulk to get rid of old and invalid addresses. Find a trustworthy email verifier, upload your email list on the platform, and allow the system to scrub it. Once it’s clean, you can download it and use it confidently.
Then, consider setting up an email verification API on your signup and registration forms. It’s easy to do: ask your email verification company for your API key, a piece of code you embed on your website. The API will double-check every new subscriber’s email address to ensure it’s safe to add to your list.
What’s more, you have peace of mind knowing the API will keep other risky contacts off your list. Abuse emails, temporary or catch-all domains, misspelled addresses – they bring no benefit to your email marketing. On the contrary, they affect your sender reputation and cause your emails to land in spam. Be proactive about them and prune your database religiously.
4. Exclusive content performs best
It’s a fact of life – and of marketing and sales: people love exclusive stuff. And they’re more likely to give something – like their email addresses – in exchange for a benefit they can’t get anywhere else.
I touched on this earlier, but let’s talk about a few ways you can make your emails unique. These tips will help you boost your subscription rates and stand out in a world where everyone is trying to grow their email list.
The easy way: write exclusive content
Let’s say you have a small business and lack the resources to create rich content, such as an e-book or a webinar. No worries: you can still get people to subscribe by focusing on your writing.
The trick for this tactic to work? Make sure everybody knows about it. On social media, entice your followers to subscribe by making it clear they can’t find that content on other channels.
If growing your list is your number one goal, this message should be at the core of your strategy. For instance, you could use the bio space on Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter for a killer CTA that clearly expresses the value of your emails.
Check out this example from Laura Belgray, who’s built a successful copywriting business by focusing on email marketing. See how she uses social media to grow her email list:
The first thing she tells you on LinkedIn is that her emails are great – and they really are. Try this on your own social media channels to get people to subscribe.
The (not so) hard way: content offers
How often do you fill out a subscription form to get access to a piece of content that interests you? I do it all the time, especially if the offer revolves around marketing.
Next thing I know, my email gets included in a sales funnel, and I start to receive all kinds of offers. Some of them are irrelevant, and I unsubscribe, but most of the time, I end up staying on the list and reading all the emails.
So, think about this: what’s something you know really well and would help others? Make a list of popular topics in your industry and create a content offer around it. It could be a webinar, an e-book, an infographic, or a cheat sheet.
How to start with content offers
Content offers can be intimidating. You may think they require a lot of time and effort to create – and is it really worth it? First of all: yes, it’s worth it. They can grow your email list tenfold.
And what’s great about these lead magnets is that you can take your pick. Don’t feel confident enough to write an e-book or a white paper? No worries: you can start small by creating an infographic.
“Customers often come to us with this specific goal: they want to put together an infographic to grow their email list,” says Aditya Sheth, Marketing Manager at Venngage. “When compared to other types of content, infographics are probably the easiest to create. Once you decide upon the copy, the rest of the process flows seamlessly,” Sheth adds.
Sounds encouraging? Get to work and create your own infographic today.
Then, gate it behind a subscription form and promote it on social media, so your followers can be the first to learn about it. That’s an audience you’ve already warmed up, and you should tap into it from the very beginning.
Next, try something a bit more complex. For instance, what kind of data could your company uncover that would bring a fresh perspective to your industry? Gather that data and put it in a gated research report. Not only will it help you grow your email list, but it can also generate backlinks to your website and a good amount of traffic.
Of course, you can come up with other ideas for gated content. Just keep these two rules in mind:
- study your audience to understand what people need and desire so that you can craft the best type of content for them, and strive to be original in what you share.
If you need some inspiration, watch this video from Mariah Coz, who talks about opt-in freebies to get more subscribers.
5. Send consistently and expect some unsubscribes
Already feeling a bit more confident about growing your list? Good!
Before you go and start gathering subscribers, there are two more things I wanted to share with you. Whether you’re just getting the hang of this or you’re farther down the road, they’ll come in handy.
You need a consistent sending schedule from day one
Many marketers do a great job collecting email addresses, but a not-so-good job nurturing their subscribers. Some of the most common mistakes I see are:
- not setting up a welcome email,
- inconsistent sending schedules, and
- aggressive email marketing approaches when you’ve got something to sell.
It’s easy to see why such a strategy would put people off. It comes across as disingenuous and opportunistic, and it’s a sure way to lose subscribers.
The same applies to social media inconsistency too. Inconsistent posting may lead to less engagement and, over time, loss of your customers and prospects. But you can easily maintain a consistent flow of content on social media using social media scheduling tools like SocialPilot.
Of course, no one blames you for wanting to sell through your emails. However, going silent for long periods of time only to return to people’s inboxes asking them to open their wallets – that’s not a way to win at email marketing.
So, if you don’t have a welcome email that goes out automatically to every new subscriber, write one today. Also, email your list regularly to:
- keep your sending IP warm,
- avoid spam complaints,
- build a relationship with your subscribers,
- and help your metrics to rise.
Expect some churn – and remove inactive subscribers
We got 36 unsubscribes on the most recent email we sent at ZeroBounce. For a list of tens of thousands of people, that’s not a lot, but still, it can sting, right? Well, it used to; now, not so much anymore.
The process of growing your email list can look like an EKG: beautifully growing curves followed by periods of decline. Sometimes, depending on how much you promote your emails, you can see a spike in subscriptions. But not everyone comes to stay, and that’s normal.
Furthermore, you should go ahead and remove passive people yourself. Now, why would you proceed to such a self-sabotaging gesture?
First, they affect your email deliverability.
Subscribers who don’t click to open your emails for more than three months become risky. They send Internet service providers (ISPs) a poor signal about you, telling them your content isn’t engaging. So, why would you belong in the inbox? You may notice your open rates declining because your emails may be directed to the spam folder.
Also, some of those addresses may have been abandoned, and, eventually, they may be deactivated and deleted. They’ll bounce and affect your sender reputation, so it’s best to prune them out regularly.
Let’s wrap things up
If you’ve read this far, thank you.
Growing your email list – whether through social media or any other channel – is an exciting goal to pursue. If there’s one conclusion I want to leave you with, it’s this: be patient, celebrate every new subscriber, focus on quality and not numbers, and make every email count. It’s the only “secret” to success in email marketing.