This blog, and a few others that I’ve been posting recently, are part of an email newsletter that I sent out in 2019. I’m now repurposing these as blogs, as well as starting my newsletter again. The new format is sent out every other week on a Wednesday, with a digital marketing thought and an actionable tip you can use right now. If you run your own business and do your own marketing, then this email is for you. Sign up here to get the next one.
But enough of that, let’s get stuck in to this great new blog!
I’m sure you’ve heard someone ask this question, whether it was aimed at your business or someone else’s, or just asked in a rhetorical sense – what would you do if Instagram/Facebook/Twitter etc. disappeared tomorrow?
Social media and content platforms are powerful tools. However, on the whole, they also work on the basis that you don’t have a direct connection to your audience. You can grow and nurture a following, but without that platform you have no way of contacting them. We all know that Twitter / X is a bin fire, but what if it actually caught fire and was gone?
I will say this now, I’m not writing this to alarm you. I’ve seen ideas like this used as a way to basically scare people into signing up for a new course or service to ‘solve’ this issue. It’s just, like everything on my blog, something to consider when you are thinking about your digital marketing. If you are building platforms, or a website, or a new product or service, it’s worth thinking about how you can make use of this and incorporate it into your plans.
Email lists are becoming more powerful. They are definitely one of those things that has come full circle again in digital marketing. I’m sure you can see that pattern in your own inbox. Time was people signed up to a lot of email lists, but then as social media grew, and the quality of many email lists started to drop, people purged their inboxes and unsubscribed.
I would say now that an email list is a great way to get straight to the inbox of people who are very engaged with your business or brand. Think about your own inbox. I know I can count on the fingers of one hand the email lists I’m currently subscribed to. If I invite you into my inbox, that’s a big deal. Lots of people used the GDPR in the UK a few years ago as a chance to get rid of a lot of email subscriptions.
What does that mean for emails now? Clients I work with who have email lists are now seeing engagement, open and click through rates, go up and up. They have smaller lists but those lists are more engaged than ever before. So, email is a double win, people are giving you their email address so you can contact them directly, and those sign ups tend to be more engaged than your followers elsewhere.
Building an email list that is engaged takes time. But it is worth it. Start small. Sign up for a free MailChimp account, build a signup form, start to share it.
You might want to think about a platform like Substack. It does seem a bit like everyone has a Substack these days but the way that it combines an email newsletter, subscriptions and a blog platform is incredibly useful. I’ve seen it used to great effect by people who use it to build a paid audience. Another bonus is that it will show you what other people subscribe to, so there is a little bit of a social media element there too and people can find you via Substack, not just if you direct them to yours.
This one is a bit of a hybrid, you are using Substack, which is a SaaS (Software as a Service) product which will have information about your contacts in it. Everything you write, and your contacts are yours, Substack is just the platform that you are using, and you can have a custom URL for your Substack, or a use a subdomain of your own site. There is nothing stopping you from downloading all your contacts from Substack regularly to ensure you have that list if you ever need it outside of the platform.
Think about what you want your email list to be. Is it about upcoming events? New products? A chance to tell people what’s been going on? I think it’s a good idea to know what you are going to offer. Think about what your audience might want. In the new iteration of my own newsletter I wanted it to be both interesting and have something actionable that people can do that gives them a small win for their digital marketing. Think about who your audience is – mine is aimed at people who run small businesses and do their own marketing, a different audience to my client work.
Get some momentum going and build from there. Make sure you promote and keep promoting sign ups. You don’t have to say it in the same way over and over. You might want to share a bit of your last email on your social media a few days before your next send with a quick call to action – Want more of this to your inbox? Sign up now to get the next one.
Push your traffic to where you are
One thing that I’ve been meaning to do for a while is set up a page on my website with all my Instagram links on it. For so many years, Instagram was just that one ‘link in bio’ and whilst there are now options for more than one link, it is still limited.
There are a few tools that you can use which give you a landing page which is like a list of all the links you have mentioned in your posts. Linktree is one of these that I’ve used, and found it easy to set up and use for my clients. When people click on the link in your bio, it goes through to a page (on their site) which displays all your links and then directs people to the page they are looking for.
However, if you come across a tool that is putting a page between your audience and your content it is worth thinking – Could I do this myself on my website?
Why? Well, your website is entirely yours. You have set it up, it reflects you and your brand, and lots of website packages come with some kind of analytics. Google Analytics is also very easy to set up for your own website. So why put another page between your audience and your content? If you have a link to a page on your website people have access to the links that you want them to see, but they can also see your lovely website and have access to any of it if something takes their fancy.
You can put any links you like on the page, and you will be able to see how many clicks they get, what is popular, and what gets a little less love. Whether those links go elsewhere on your site, or to another site altogether, you are still measuring that traffic yourself. You could even design the page will your email sign up form to the side, in case people like what they see and want to sign up. And just like that, you are keeping your audience in direct contact with you.
It is always worth asking how you can host something directly yourself, rather than giving time, energy, and precious traffic to a third-party site.
Thank again for reading, and if you’d like to sign up to my own ‘owned’ content, then you can join in with my newsletter here.