[This is part 8 of the series "Debunking the Myths of E-Mail Marketing."]
I wonder how many people reading this can honestly say “I never use email.” How could this myth possibly be true? How would we communicate without email? Let’s explore the alternatives.
By Phone. What a concept! Anybody under 25 doesn’t even answer their own cell-phone (just ask my 24-year old step-son), they only respond to text messages. And speaking of which…
Texting. I love texting, it’s highly useful, but it’s no replacement for email. First of all you can’t format a text message, which would drive me nuts after a while. Second, you can’t have conversations with groups of people over text. And finally, you can’t organize them or follow threads. I’m sure there are lots of other reasons… it’s just too ridiculous to even try to enumerate them.
Facebook. Unless you’re constantly on Facebook, or log into it several times a day, you wouldn’t be able to use it in the same way as email. Every time I go into Facebook I lose time because I’m compelled to check and see what everyone’s up to. It’s designed that way! Very inefficient for a professional trying to get her work done.
Instant message. Basically it’s the same as texting but can also be done on computers via chat services like AIM and Jabber. Same comments as above.
Twitter. Really? Most people I know don’t even use Twitter, much less understand all the nuances and etiquette known only to the hard-core users.
In-person. This one makes me nostalgic. It’s not that I yearn for the old days when my father-in-law used to just “drop by” our house to say hi, and stay for 2 hours. But there’s something to be said for face to face communications. It just can’t replace e-mail.
As recent as last October, the Pew Internet and American Life Project released a report that found that more than 90% of the population who uses the internet use it for e-mail. I’m not sure what the other “less than 10%” use, but this factoid being from a highly trustworthy source tells me that email is not going away any time soon.
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Since the beginning I’ve felt that the true benefits of using Twitter for business were elusive. In addition, it seems like such a time-suck. You might also be thinking: “I could sit and read tweets for hours, but it’s not putting money in my pocket!”
I’m not even saying there’s no value. I get lots of great information from Twitter, and I don’t follow people who tell me what they ate for breakfast or post links to videos of their crazy cat.
I have also been posting on Twitter for quite a while (I use Hootsuite and a virtual assistant as time-saver tools) but I don’t engage with anyone. I simply post interesting tips and links — it’s far from a two-way conversation.
I know this is not considered the correct way to use Twitter, but even with this minimalist approach I have still managed to attract a following of over 400 people.
Now I think it’s time to take a closer look at Twitter. One of my trusted colleagues uses Twitter frequently as a networking tool. She claims to have had good results growing her network and getting the word out about her business.
Hubspot, one of my favorite web sites/companies, recently published a free guide on how to use Twitter for business. I’ve been on the lookout for reasons to give Twitter another try and I think this guide may have provided it.
Hubspot’s free guide is an introductory-level primer to help people get started. I skimmed over the first several chapters on how to set up an account, optimize your profile, and get followers. But section 3, which starts on page 27, covers strategies for how to use Twitter as a business marketing tool. It goes into using it to drive traffic to your web site, promote your webinars, offer special discounts, and monitor what others are saying about you, among other things.
Some of these suggestions are obvious, such as tweeting about your latest blog post and including a link to the post. But a few were new to me and made it worth reading the entire report in order to get the nuggets. One such suggestion was to create a dedicated Twitter landing page. I love landing pages, and they’re easy to set up, so this was a great takeaway for me.
If you’ve been resisting the call of Twitter for your own reasons, I hope you’ll reconsider. If you don’t have time now, put it on your e-marketing roadmap for some time in August or September. Here’s the link to the Hubspot guide again. And here’s the link to follow me on Twitter. See you in the Twitterverse!
Last year I was using Twitter to invite people to get a free account on Grouvia, our Meetup-like web site (long story). It worked fairly well, although I did get accused of being a spammer once or twice.
The way I had used it back then was to do searches for certain keywords, like clubs, small non profit group, group management software, stuff like that. I would find people talking about their club or group and send them a message about Grouvia and how it might help them manage their group.
I know, it sounds kind of spammy, but we did it in a very non-intrusive way. Technically it’s not spam, but that’s a subjective topic these days.
I hadn’t used Twitter in several months, so I decided to check it out again. I’d heard that there are a lot of new features, however upon visiting the site and looking around, I didn’t see all that much that was different from my last visit. At least nothing apparently mind-blowing.
I decided to do some simple searches to see if I could find people talking about my subject. I started with a specific local keyphrase: “internet marketing fredericksburg”. Nothing. I tried “internet marketing northern virginia”. Nothing. Then I tried “internet marketing virginia”. Three results. Aha! But none of them had anything to do with internet marketing.
Then I noticed a tab called “search tweets near my location”. Apparently it knows where I am. Maybe I told it at some point, or maybe it knows from my IP address. At any rate, I tried “internet marketing” and got 43 gazillion results. I clicked the location tab and got nothing again. Hm. Maybe it doesn’t really know where I am.
I felt like I was chasing a rabbit down a hole so I dragged myself back up for air and went back to standard searching with more specific keywords. I tried “small business internet marketing” and got a bunch of results, and started scanning. It was a long list of promotional tweets. Overwhelming to any user looking for useful information.
Then I tried searching for “small business marketing help” and got the same thing, a bunch of “click me!” type tweets. But I also noticed another odd thing… The same tweet text over and over again, by different people using different links. My guess is that it’s an affiliate thing and all these people are trying to sell some program because they get a commission. Egad.
Well, that was an hour of my life I’ll never get back. I did get a good blog post out of it though .
Conclusion: Twitter does not work for the kind of small businesses I work with. It’s just not worth the time and effort — the ROI (return on investment) is way too small.
But there must be other uses for Twitter or it wouldn’t be so popular. Any and all comments about this are certainly welcome!
A colleague of mine recently wrote an article for her newsletter on the topic of list size. Many business owners who rely on email marketing for sales leads constantly stress over the challenge of growing our lists.
I had to chuckle when I saw her article because 6 months ago she was lamenting to me that her list wasn’t nearly as big as those of other, well-known people in her field. At the time I said to her, “It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. The size of your list is not as important as the number of people who see real value in what you provide.” Clearly she got the message. Whether it was from me, or if I just planted a seed and she took it from there, I was happy to see she changed her mind and doesn’t worry so much about comparative list sizes any more. By the way, her list is way bigger than mine .
Many of the “big names” in the industry have tens of thousands of people on their list. While this sounds great, you have to wonder what percentage of those people actually pay any attention to the messages that get sent to them from the provider. How many mailing lists are YOU on? How many of those messages do you actually read? Maybe it’s time to start unsubscribing… liberally.
The size issue is the same deal with Twitter followers and Facebook Business Page Likers. You can use a site like fiverr.com to hire someone cheaply to get followers or likers for you, but are these followers really paying any attention to your messages? I think it’s more about ego and bragging rights than about really connecting with your audience.
If you are one of these people who think more is automatically better… my advice to you is “get over yourself.” Provide real value to people and they will join your list. It’s that simple.
My friend who wrote the article made the suggestion to me that the bigger your list, the more your quality degrades. I’m not sure I agree with that completely, but it gave me something to think about. I had not ever considered that point, and plan on doing some research to find out what others think about it. If you have any thoughts about this I’d love to hear them, please comment below.
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