I’ve heard many gurus, marketers and publishers brag about their social media followers. They’ll say things like, “Isn’t it great … I’ve got 10,000 fans on Facebook” or “I have more than 15,000 followers on Twitter.” Then I’ll ask them how many free e-newsletter subscribers they have. And they’ll reply, “I haven’t had time to build a list yet. I don’t have an e-newsletter.”
Well, in my opinion, they’ve won only half the battle …
It’s fantastic that they have a following on social media—people who seem to be interested in their messages (posts) and their overall philosophy. They can certainly cultivate these relationships to assist in their marketing efforts. However, I remind these gurus that the “fans” are following them. It’s a passive relationship. And there’s an awful lot of background noise in a news feed that can distract their fans.
If you don’t have fans’ email addresses, then you cannot have one-on-one communications with them. Building and cultivating a list is a fundamental business strategy for sales growth.
In the publishing world, a list (email addresses of free or paid subscribers) is sacred. It’s one of the most valuable things you own. You protect it and treat it with care, because your list is your financial bread and butter. It’s made up of people—customers and subscribers—who can make or break your business through their purchasing power or lack thereof.
Your list is also your leverage—what you use when reaching out to other synergistic publishers and friendly competitors to do reciprocal JV (joint venture) swaps and revenue share deals.
So, if you’re an online publisher, guru or business owner who has social media followers but no list, you’re at a disadvantage. Initiate a plan to capture your fans’ email addresses immediately and get permission to open up the personal lines of communication.
I recommend that you make a special conversion effort to encourage social media followers to give you their email addresses, or, as we say, “opt in” to receive your marketing messages.
This typically involves creating strong promotional copy and a lead-generation landing page (also know as squeeze page), where the goal is to capture the email address of the friend, follower or fan.
The offer should be something that will resonate with your fan, such as a useful and relevant free bonus. Some popular examples are a whitepaper, e-newsletter or e-alert subscription, audio download, bonus video, webinar or teleseminar..
Some marketers also offer coupon codes or gift certificates in exchange for an email address or the option to be in a “VIP club,” where you’re the first to hear about special offers.
Freebies will vary based on what you have to offer in exchange. Ideally, this is something that has a perceived value and is immediate and relevant. You run the campaign for a two-week period at a time, mixing your conversion messages with your regular, organic daily posts. It’s ideal to drive traffic to specially coded pages so you can track traffic and conversions. You can also make sure your sign up box on your website’s home page is up and ready for stray organic traffic. Then you monitor email sign-ups and website traffic (via Google Analytics), to ensure list growth and traffic source referrals.
It’s also critical to clearly disclose before users submit their email addresses that opting in to receive your freebie also gives them a complimentary subscription to your e-newsletter (if applicable), along with special offers from time to time.
Finally, you should follow up with a series of autoresponder (targeted messages) emails welcoming your new subscribers, reminding them how they signed up, offering strong editorial content and special new subscriber offers.
These emails facilitate bonding; validate that the correct email was sent; ensures that the user is aware of the sign up; helps reduce false “do not mail” reports, email bounces and general attrition; and most importantly, improved life time value.
So before you get enamored with your Facebook following, realize that to monetize these names takes a conversion strategy. Once you start building your list, you’ll add a whole new value to your businesses valuation.