Social Media is Sexy, But Email Still Wins!

October 2, 2017  •  Marketing Strategy

In a given week, how much time do you spend building your platform?

Out of that time, how much is spent on social media, whether it’s posting content or growing your audience?

It’s true, social media is the global phenomenon that everyone is talking about (which we know because they’re posting those conversations on social media).

It’s sexy and it’s fun! There are so many exciting platforms, like Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and YouTube and Instagram and so many more!

But there’s one problem very few platform-builders are talking about… social media is a waste of time.

Sure, it’s a time-suck and distracting—but I mean more than that. If you’re spending more time and energy on social media than you’re spending on email marketing, you’re putting your focus in the wrong place.

If you’re spending more time on social media than your email list, you’re doing it wrong.

John Meese

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Why Email Still Trumps Social Media

Email marketing isn’t as glamorous or exciting as social media, mostly because it’s primarily a bunch of words (the less design, the better), and it’s been around for a long time.

The internet has done a lot to change the way in which we interact, but the core element of what we do online is still the same as it was long before the internet:

Human people interacting with human people.

Social media is like a park or a coffee shop: it’s great for meeting new and interesting people; but it’s not enough to sustain your relationship. Email marketing grows that meet-up relationship beyond coffee shop banter, and into an actual connection.

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Giving away your email address  is like handing someone your home address. There’s a lot more trust involved, because the relationship you build there will be more intimate.

And, if someone gives you their home address, they’re typically thinking one of two things:

  1. You seem nice, why don’t you come hang out?” OR
  2. Please, send me cool stuff!

That’s a broad concept, but let’s dive a little deeper. Here are three primary reasons why email still trumps social media online:

1. Email Gives You Direct Access to Your Subscribers

Social media counts on the fact that you’ll post content, and other people will log on to check it out—but email is completely different.

When your customer gives you their email address, they’re giving you an opportunity to reach them directly―there’s no longer a need to wait on common ground for your customer to show up.

You send out new content, and they receive it—every time, for as long as they want.

Of course, they still have to check their email (but research shows people conservatively check their email up to three times per day).

2. Email Has Higher Engagement Than Social Media

This may seem counterintuitive, because all the engagement happens in private inboxes instead of out in the open in the social space.

Still, it’s true. The average social media post will be seen by roughly 5% of your followers on Facebook, and the results are similar on most other b platforms.

By contrast, the average open rate is more than 20% for email broadcasts—and speaking from experience, you can get above average open rates with a little work (we regularly see 25% – 35% open rates, ourselves).

Finally, the proof is in the pudding: ConvertKit ran a study and found that an email subscriber is 15 times more likely to make a purchase than a social media follower.

Social media is great for attracting an audience, but email is where you build a relationship and make the sale.

John Meese

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3. You Own Your Email List, But Borrow Social Media

This is one of the most important differences between email marketing and social media marketing to understand, especially when you’re building a platform as a business and your primary income.

On social media, you have no control over the platform, content delivery, or long-term plans.

This was a rude awakening for many people who relied heavily on Facebook, when they changed their algorithm and slashed organic engagement overnight.

The same was true for anyone who relied heavily on Vine, which Twitter shut down earlier this year—leaving heavy users without a backup plan.

Social media is an unreliable foundation. But when you build your platform around your email list, you’re building your house on a rock.

About John Meese

John Meese is the author of the #1 bestseller Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One). An entrepreneur himself, John is on a mission to eradicate generational poverty by equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and training they need to build thriving businesses from scratch. He is the founder of Cowork Columbia, co-founder of Notable, and regularly publishes interviews and insight at