Social is for discovery, email is for conversions
Sales & Marketing

Social is for discovery, email is for conversions

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Our best advice for Creators, SMBs and every entrepreneur trying to make a living online:

Social media is great for discovery to find your customers, but email marketing is where your sales will happen.

Or more succinctly: Social is for discovery, email is for conversions.

The sooner you internalize this, the sooner you’ll start earning what you’re worth.

What is marketing anyway?

There are dozens marketing explanations and frameworks, but it comes down to two things:

  1. Finding your target customers (discovery)
  2. Making the sale (conversion)

You need to find your customers, then convert them. It’s that simple.

Discovery: Where are the eyeballs?

Discovery is all about attention — where to people ‘spend’ their attention? Where are the eyeballs?

First it was print (newspaper, magazines, etc.). Then it was radio and TV, which peaked in 2014. Now it’s search (e.g., Google) and social. Social is growing the fastest as shown below.

Source: WARC 2020, Evolution of Global Advertising Spend (1980-2020)
Source: WARC 2020, Evolution of Global Advertising Spend (1980-2020)

The chart above shows ad dollars following attention as it shifts over time. With the rise of Instagram, TikTok, etc. social is showing the strongest growth.

So, you might be wondering, “Wow, if people are spending so much time on social, then I just need a big social following to make sales, right?”

Well, not really. Here’s why.

Low quality attention = low intent

Social media might be capturing more attention, but it is low quality attention with low intent.

People browse social media while waiting in line at the grocery store, watching TV or any other time they have 30 seconds to spare. In other words: rarely when they’re ready to convert and buy whatever you’re selling.

Social media is a feed, so there’s and endless stream of distractions more interesting than whatever you’re selling. But don’t feel bad, it’s hard to complete with a cat GIFs, fail videos and the latest memes.

But there’s a better way.

Use social media, don’t let social media use you

Remember, social media isn’t for making sales, it’s for finding your people. Social media is for finding your true fans who are searching for what you uniquely offer–your content, your products, your services.

Once you find your true fans you can cultivate that relationship by sharing relevant, quality content and engaging with them.

But to start consistently making sales you need a deeper relationship: you need email.

Why email marketing is where conversions happen

Email marketing is better for selling because it is the most direct relationship you can have with your fans:

  • Email is a direct line to someone’s inbox where there are fewer distractions.
  • Email enables deeper communication with your fans to cultivate and grow the relationship.
  • Email enables marketing automation to guide customers through your purchase funnel based on intent.

But email also strengthens your business in other ways…

Email marketing makes your business resilient

Email marketing protects the long-term viability of your business.

We’ve all seen it: For whatever reason people get their accounts on social networks banned and they instantly lose access to the audience they’ve spent years building. If your fans are on your email list, you can recover quickly.

Email protects you from ‘algorithm changes’ or any other change social networks roll out that negatively impact your ability to reach your audience.

Email gives you freedom. Creators evolve and may want to experiment with other social networks and formats over time. Regardless of what social network you create on, email will be your consistent line to your customers.

So, how do you get social followers to join your email list?

There are multiple ways, but the most important thing is to make it easy to subscribe to your email list.

For example, add an opt-in to your email list on your website, Linktree landing page or whatever you have in your biolink. Also make it a habit of telling your followers to subscribe to your email list.

Our favorite way is incentivizing your followers to follow you. For example, the next time you run a giveaway on Instagram make one of the entry criteria to subscribe to your email list. We’re actually building a better way to this. If you’re interested, check it out here.

In closing…

Social is for discovery, email is for conversions

If you rely on social, you’ll have trouble making sales.

If you rely on email, you’ll struggle to build a large following.

You need both: Social is for discovery, email is for conversions.

About the author
Gabriel Mays, the Co-Founder and CEO of POPSMASH
Gabriel A. Mays
Gabriel Mays' Website
Co-Founder & CEO at POPSMASH
Before POPSMASH, Gabe was a Director at GoDaddy and founded two startups. He was also a Marine Corps Captain, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He lives with his wife and two kids on Cape Cod, MA.

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