I feel bad for my students. In the past, students used to be able to tell me that they would use social media to market their businesses. I assumed that they knew what they were talking about – after all, they are tech savvy Millennials and I am an aging Baby Boomer.
However, since launching The Entrepreneurial Mind, I have learned just how challenging it is to build a business that relies on social media and I make sure my students know this, as well.
When we were getting ready to launch our business, I assumed that with a good base of followers in social media that I had all that I needed to attract entrepreneurs to sign up for our subscription platform.
If we built it and I Tweeted about it, they would come.
However, I soon learned that digital marketing is a lot more complicated than I thought. Although social media is ideal for promotion and building awareness, it does not always work well to get customers to act. For many digital businesses like ours, email remains the most powerful tool to close the sale and gain paying customers.
Some Email Lists Are Better Than Others
I thought we had a pretty good base of emails to launch our business. I assumed my blog would be a great source of emails for prospective customers. I have been blogging for the past twelve years. We determined that I had captured almost 25,000 emails from people visiting my blog. Turning these people from blog readers to customers of our new platform would be a huge initial boost to our membership.
Sadly, most of the emails I had captured at my blog proved to be useless. They were from spammers who tried to use comments from my blog posts to drive people to their websites – many of them pretty sleazy sites, I might add.
I had not built my blog twelve years ago with any intention to use it to build a business. My blog was just a fun experiment to play around with in the early days of blogging. Had I known then what I know now, I would have built in ways to use my blog to capture good emails.
For example, popup forms work well to capture names and emails. You can ask people to enter their information to receive announcements and special offers, such as unique content offered only to those who sign up. Most blogging platforms have widgets that allow you to create a popup form and there are several other options for add-ons that are compatible with most blogging software.
Fortunately, I am an email pack rat, so I had hundreds of email addresses of entrepreneurs who I had worked with over the years. This proved to be a good list, as we have converted about 10% of them to become subscribers.
We are working on ways to build our email list using popup forms, social media campaigns, and so forth. I would love to hear ideas on creative ways to capture emails from those of you who have had success with this.
The Set Up And The Closing
Good old-fashioned PR is still an effective means to get your message out. We are contacting people in the media and bloggers who I have had contact with through my years of blogging. I am encouraging them to write about our new venture. We have had some good success, and plan to continue to pitch our story.
We also have increased our general use of social media and we are developing specific social media campaigns. It is critical to be intentional about the content of social media messages. Your objectives are to get their attention, reinforce their confidence in you as an authority, build their trust in you and highlight the value proposition your business offers its customers.
However, remember that social media and PR are primarily tools to promote and build awareness.
Email still remains the best way to sell your product in a digital world.
Capturing emails and building strong lists of current and potential customers’ emails should remain a basic marketing objective. Carefully orchestrated email campaigns are the best way to create a sense of urgency and get people to act, so growing the base of people to include in these campaigns is essential.
Let this serve as a warning to all of my current and future students. I am learning first hand just how complex digital marketing really is when trying to launch and grow a business. I will be reading your digital marketing plans with a sharp eye!