With all the news about advertising bought and sold on exchanges, targeting data from the cloud and massive databases, the latest social media craze, mobile, video and digital payments, etc, it’s no wonder publishers have a hard time figuring out what to focus on. It is easy to forget the universal truths we need to stay focused on, but Joe Mandese recently reminded me.
It is easy to let your eye stray from the ball that is the customer-relationship. In 2009, I wrote here about the strength and value of email as a publishing channel, pointing out that email far-exceeds social media connections in value, because it is more personal and more ubiquitous. Everyone has an email address. You can’t even have a social media account without email.
Then, in 2010 still in the middle of the rise of the social media craze, I moderated a panel with founders and top executives of several super-successful digital businesses that had rocketed to success and gone public or had been purchased by big companies for hundreds of millions of dollars. Groupon was one with a billion dollar market cap. Daily Candy had been purchased by Comcast for more than $400,000,000.
Each of the panelists had built their business primarily on email by offering interesting content, and inviting those who discover it to sign up for a regularly published email newsletter. I wrote then about the success of Daily Candy, aimed at young women, and of Thrillist, aimed at young affluent men, quoting Ben Lerer who responded to audience push-back about people getting too much spam by saying “by now people have figured out how to curate their inbox.”
Since then, the digital publishing world has been rocked by one innovation after another, making it hard for publishers to keep up with “whats next” or as Michael Lewis called it “The New New Thing.”
So it was amusing to read about new research conducted by McKinsey, the famous consulting firm, demonstrating the value of emails as a marketing tool. The conclusion is that email is 40 times more valuable than social media!
Most of what is written about email is written for advertisers, but our view should be publishing. In our context, email offers three things:
1) The strongest customer connection short of a payment.
2) One very effective channel through which to publish your content.
3) A very profitable platform on which to deliver advertising.
Advertisers like email-delivered advertising because all their ads can hit at once, rather than impressions spread over many days or weeks to deliver the same numbers. And opt-in email engagement is superior to on-page advertising delivery. Readers, who might look at your web site once a week or each month, can be reached through email every day.
Publishers should build their strategies around winning email subscriptions. Publishing through email is far more valuable than growing their social media reach. Contact me here if you want to learn more.