Columns > Published on August 21st, 2015

7 Reasons Why A Mailing List Is More Important Than Social Media

We see no shortage of people talking about the benefits of social media to authors and publishers. Rightfully so, when used effectively a couple of well-targeted social media accounts can serve as excellent resources in your promotional toolkit. Furthermore, it’s a great way to network with other professionals and to even – shock, horror – make friends. The humble mailing list is often lost in the noise of social media when the conversation turns to promotion. Unfortunate given the mailing list is the better promotional tool. Here’s why.

1. More People Read Your Messages

There’s a lot of worry surrounding how many people actually see your social media posts. Rightly so given how often platforms such as Facebook change their algorithms. Just as you’ve figured out how to ‘hack’ the current system the goal posts shift. With the likes of Twitter, updates flood in thick-and-fast, 140-characters of real-time information, blink and you miss it. This isn’t the case with a mailing list. It’s delivered straight to your subscribers’ inbox for them to read at their leisure. No worrying about algorithms or the best time to target subscribers in different timezones. (FYI: okay so once you get down to the intricacies of targeted emails you may want to experiment with different times and days to send newsletters to see how it affects your open and conversion rates but at least you know your subscribers will see the email.)

Are you far more likely to do something because some guy covered in sweat and smelling of Joop and cheap alcohol stands atop a box in the middle of Birmingham and shouts at you or because a friend asks you for a favour?

2. Everyone Wants To Hear What You Have To Say

One of the major factors separating a mailing list from social media is that everyone who sees your message actually cares about and wants to hear what you have to say. Retweets, shares, likes and even a friend leaving a comment on a page can send a social media post you have no interest in to the top of your feed. So not only are you guaranteed to not reach your entire fanbase with social media but you’ll also manage to reach a percentage of readers with no interest in what you’re promoting, further detracting from the number of ‘real’ customers reading your message.

With a mailing list every single subscriber has given you permission to correspond with them. This is sacred. We are bombarded with unwanted advertisements, spam messages and product placement. For someone to give you their email address and invite correspondence in a ‘who shouts the loudest’ marketplace is a gift. It shouldn’t be taken lightly, so make sure every message offers value and is worth their time.

3. It’s A Platform For Experimentation And Exclusives

As you’ve surely ascertained, those that sign-up for your mailing list are amongst your most dedicated and loyal fans. You can give back to them in a more personalised way than social media. Don’t just go through the motions with your mailing list. Offer your email list special offers, secret events and insider tips they won’t find anywhere else. Beyond everything else offer your subscribers value.

You can also experiment and use your mailing list as a forum for one-on-one conversation. As these are your most dedicated supporters they will be open to indulging you in experiments with content and ideas. You can ask for feedback on what does and doesn't work. Talk to your subscribers, get to know what it is they want, listen to them and deliver.

You can ask subscribers for help, too. It’s okay to ask for an early Amazon review or assistance spreading the word about a new release. Just make sure benefits flow from both directions, otherwise you’ll look an awful lot like the author who mass spams as many Facebook groups as possible, and no one has time for that.

4. No Reliance On Third Parties

How many people do you know who regularly use their MySpace account in 2015? Any Bebo users in the house? The point is nothing lasts forever, and relying on a third party to communicate with the bulk of your fans is risky. If I used MySpace as my main means of communication to This Is Horror readers it’s doubtful it would have much of a readership today. When you rely on a mailing list you don’t have to worry about the latest social platform falling out of favour.

5. Export Mailing Lists

You can easily export your mailing list so if you do decide to move your email list from one account to another you easily retain all your contacts without building your list from scratch. There are various email marketing solutions and clients, including the likes of MailChimp and AWeber. Exporting your mailing list allows you to seamlessly switch between the two. The same cannot be said for switching between Facebook and Google+.

6. A Great Tool For Emergencies

If your website goes down or another emergency hits, a mailing list is the quickest and most effective way to let everyone know. It’s a good way to communicate what’s going on in the face of disaster. Of course, it’s a good way to communicate what’s going on at all times.

7. Return On Investment

If you’re still unconvinced a mailing list is more important than social media then consider these three words: return on investment. Given the personalisation of email and that your subscribers all want to hear what you have to say the likelihood of conversion – and by that I mean book sales, clicks, reviews and whatever else you ask of your supporters – is much higher. Think about it, are you far more likely to do something because some guy covered in sweat and smelling of Joop and cheap alcohol stands atop a box in the middle of Birmingham and shouts at you or because a friend asks you for a favour? That’s the difference between social media and a mailing list.

About the author

Michael David Wilson is the founder of the popular UK horror website, podcast, and publisher, This Is Horror. Michael is the author of the novella, The Girl in the Video, and the novel, They’re Watching, co-written with Bob Pastorella. His second novella, House of Bad Memories, lands in 2021 via Grindhouse Press. His work has appeared in various publications including The NoSleep PodcastDim ShoresDark Moon DigestLitReactorHawk & Cleaver’s The Other Stories, and Scream. You can connect with Michael on Twitter @WilsonTheWriter. For more information visit www.michaeldavidwilson.co.uk.

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