The Folly of Building Your Farm on Rented Land

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A few years back, Facebook was flipping the marketing world upside down.

It was hailed as the future, and that it would reshape the marketing landscape forever.

We were told we had to go where our customers were. To focus more marketing efforts on persuading them to become our Fans and Like our posts, and do all our promotional legwork for us.

We were told that soon it would be on Facebook that vast numbers of purchasing decisions would be made. After all, who better to ask for cast iron, 100% gold product recommendations than your friends and family?

Nobody wasted time doing their own research anymore.

Some even questioned whether you needed a website at all? Why bother getting tangled up in all that code when you could slap together a Fan page in minutes, and for free?

Yet again, poor old email was written off as the ever reliable workhorse on its last legs (notably by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg at Nielsen’s 360 Consumer Conference in 2010).

But fast forward to today, and there’s a growing sense we’ve been had.

Slowly but surely, solopreneurs, businesses and brands are shaking their heads at the futility of it all, before looking for the Fan page delete button and refocusing their efforts on the tactics that work.

There’s a gradual yet pervasive realisation dawning that Facebook fan pages actually generate very little money.

In fact, with Facebook’s recent algorithmic jiggery-pokery, any updates with the whiff of a promo will be blocked altogether. Not such a big loss when you consider that less than a meager 2-6% of your updates reach your Fans anyway (down from 12% in 2012).

Facebook misadventures have proven once again the dangers of building your farm on borrowed land.

Email has always had a conversion rate that puts Facebook to shame

Facebook still has its merits for remarketing to visitors of your website. But when it comes to the gritty, gun to the head business of making money, it cant compete with the proven tactics of content driven traffic generation and list building.

To give you a quick injection of reality, the Direct Marketing Association found that email generates an ROI of $39.40 for every dollar spent – largely due to people now checking emails at spare moments on their mobiles.

Facebook? According to a Kenshoo (a Facebook Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer) the cost of advertising has gone up 700% since 2013 with an average ROI of 1.75.

In Facebook’s defense, this is an improvement on the previous year. But the social media giant still has a long way to go before it can ever claim to compete with the sales driving power of email.

Bonus Tip – How to Increase Email Signups with Your Existing Content

Hopefully, you’ve been one of the smart copywriters telling clients to continue investing in their website content while everyone else was chasing Facebook fans. If you’ve also been using the skyscraper method, you may also have created a few posts generating a pleasant bump in traffic.

If you want to get more subscribers into your email list, these are the posts to focus on turning into lead generating magnets.

To identify your most popular articles, pop your client’s website into Moz Open Site Explorer or your analytics package of choice.

The next step is to create something you can offer to visitors to these posts as an enticement into joining your email list. This could be a summary action plan for implementing the post’s recommended steps, an infographic they can publish to their own blog or an eBook that expands on the topic.

Now, simply lock this piece of remarkable content behind a squeeze page and update the post with a call to action box telling visitors about the amazing free gift in exchange for their email address.

Implement this crafty little technique and watch your email subscribers and ROI rise.

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