Are Email Addresses the Real Currency of the Web?

I’ve been thinking about email a lot lately.

Partly, how I use it, but more about how it relates to building an audience.

But, first, a short story.

Over the years, I’ve become somewhat of an email nazi (see link for Seinfeld reference).  When it comes to personal email habits, I’m a big believer in attempting to process your inbox to zero on a regular basis.

As a result, my inbox has become my own little save haven. These days, most of the emails I receive are not junk. (My @gmail account, which is a catch-all account is another story).

Okay, here’s my point.

Recently, an individual I trust and follow as a thought-leader launched a new online venture.  At any given time, I limit the amount of people or blogs I follow to a maximum of 20.

This individual falls in my “top 20.”

Upon launching the initiative, this person did something refreshingly unusual; They provided just two options for receiving future updates: Email subscription and Twitter.

Not ten ways.

Not five.

Not three, just two.

Simple and elegant.

It was like breathing in fresh air after being stuck inside all day.

So I became an email subscriber (using my primary email).

Before going any further, I’d like to make a few things clear.  First, I became an email subscriber because I trust the person, not because of the user experience (although it did help).

Over the years, this individual has provided consistent value to their niche audience in the form of good content and high-quality product offerings.

Bottom line, their stuff rocks and they’ve helped a lot of people.  That said, because their marketing approach is smart, I’m sure complete strangers have become subscribers based on perceived value and social proof.

Why Is This Important?

These days, too many of us put email marketing efforts on the back burner in favour of the new, hot social network.

However, converting website visitors, fans and followers into email subscribers should not be an afterthought. In my opinion, the benefits of a strong email list far outweigh those found in social media.

Besides, what would happen if Facebook or Twitter disappeared? In the beginning, MySpace didn’t take Facebook seriously in the beginning and we all know how that ended up.

No, social media is not evil, but it’s also not a silver bullet either.  Just remember, you don’t own your follower’s contact information and, therefore, you’re at the mercy of the social network.

Build Your Own Platform (with a solid Email Strategy)

Rather than waiting for the inevitable, make sure you’ve protected your social media (or search marketing) investment.

Also, keep in mind, it’s about more than just getting email addresses; it is about delivering tremendous value so you get the right email address.

“Your email marketing database is like gold. It has tremendous value and better yet, you own it. You don’t own Facebook or Twitter or Google+. If those social media sites change their permissions or disappear altogether, you’ll likely lose access to your list of friends/followers/fans you’ve grown over the years. But not email addresses. Those are yours to keep, yours to take with you from platform to platform.” – Matt Grant from MarketingProfs

For me, I don’t give my primary email to just anyone. When I do, it’s because I truly value (and read) the information I receive in my inbox.

How about you?


Photo credit: Micky.!