Sometimes it feels like a never-ending cycle.
Pay for Facebook ads (or Instagram ads or sponsored tweets or YouTube ads), watch your traffic get a bump, close a few sales, repeat.
Or maybe you’re working hard at creating YouTube videos and posting perfect Instagram pictures. Maybe you’re getting a ton of traffic from Pinterest. You spend hours crafting content, picking the right descriptions, and filling in all the meta-data. And it works. Traffic is coming in — and so are the sales.
Then your third-party platform hits you with an algorithm update.
Whether you’re paying for ads or just smart about how you post your content, an algorithm change shakes up the entire game. And just like that, your traffic is gone and you have to figure out how to replace all those leads.
Whose platform are you building, anyway?
While building your following on third-party platforms can be a way to drive traffic to your website and covert sales, the reality is that every time you put content elsewhere, you’re building someone else’s business.
If you’re spending time and energy on YouTube, for instance, and that’s where your best content lives, you’re interacting with your community and potential customers on someone else’s terms.
“You don’t have control over someone else’s platform,” says Ashley Patrick, a money coach and founder of Budgets Made Easy. Patrick sells a workbook and an e-book on her website, and she finds that selling from her own email list is more effective than just hoping for conversions from third parties.
“I have control over my sales and my content,” says Patrick. “I can set up automations and know my content will be reliably delivered.”
When you spend time on a third-party platform, you don’t know for sure that potential clients will see your posts. And, even worse, if an algorithm changes, or if your channel is demonetized for some reason, you could lose everything.
And never forget — what constitutes grounds for demonetization or banning or anything else is entirely in the hands of the platform owner. You can appeal or complain, but the bottom line is that you’re at their mercy when using their platform to grow your business and you rely on them for your sales leads.
Cut the middleman by using your email list
Rather than selling from a third-party platform, concentrate on leaning into your email list.
“Almost all my money comes from selling to my email list,” says Patrick. While she uses other platforms to help her grow her list, she’s working on moving away from them.
Patrick doesn’t rely too heavily on one platform, and she feels like even if there was an algorithm change with one of the social media platforms she uses, it wouldn’t make a huge impact on her bottom line. “I’m doing things beyond using other platforms to grow my community and my list, so I could weather algo changes,” she says.
Your email list is a more reliable way to reach people for three main reasons:
1. You own the list
If you’re kicked off Facebook or some other platform, all of a sudden you don’t have access to your followers. You have to start from scratch.
Your email list, though, is yours. You always have access to the list, and you can always reach those on it. No one can take it away from you. When your business experiences setbacks, you can still turn to your list.
2. You’re in control of how and when customers see your content
We’ve all been there. Scrolling through Instagram, only to see a friend’s post for the first time several days after it was posted. When you rely on others’ platforms, you can’t control when your customers see your content, or even how it appears.
Through email marketing, you’re in control. You design the emails, approve the content the way you want it, and decide when your customers see it.
Sure, there are tools to help you schedule social media posts, but there’s no guarantee those tools won’t be banned by the platform, or that something in the presentation will change. Set up a funnel or schedule a promotion — it’s entirely up to you.
3. Algorithm changes don’t affect your email
Living at the mercy of an algorithm is the worst. You think you have the system down, it works like a charm, you’re making money and reaching the right customers. Then an algorithm change comes along and destroys all your hard work. You either have to pay more for different ads, or you start all over again learning the algorithm (and even then it isn’t an exact science).
With a solid email marketing strategy, though, you don’t have to worry about what the social media platforms are doing with their platforms. Because your email list is full of people who want to hear from you, there’s a better chance that your sales will be consistently high. You’re going directly to your customers, without the worry of a middleman who could change the game at any second.
Email marketing best practices: creating a funnel that works for you
Rather than wasting your precious time and energy trying to crack the latest social media platform’s code, says Steve Chou, a successful e-commerce business owner and marketer, and the founder of My Wife Quit Her Job, it makes more sense to develop a workable funnel.
“Most sales require at least eight touch points,” says Chou. “You can’t guarantee eight touches from someone on social media. You can’t even guarantee your followers will see one post.”
Chou makes use of a variety of tools as part of his email marketing strategy to encourage people to enter his funnel. He uses webinars to sign people up for his email list, and then provides good content that keeps them interested. His prospects are at a point where they are looking for what he has to offer — and they’re more willing to buy as a result.
“Random traffic from a social media platform just isn’t as high quality,” says Chou. “An effective sales funnel can increase your conversion rate well beyond what you’d get for cold traffic from a third-party platform.”
When creating your funnel, there are six essential questions you should ask yourself:
- Are you offering something compelling?
- Does your funnel fit your offer?
- What story does your funnel tell?
- Is your funnel persuasive?
- Can you bring your reader on an emotional journey?
- What content belongs in each email?
Trying to build a funnel like this on someone else’s social media platform just isn’t as effective. Some of the most effective emails are long and tell a compelling story that encourages the reader to take the next step.
Stop chasing algorithms
Now is the time to stop chasing algorithms and focus on building your email list. Rather than hoping that today’s hot platform will be here — and send quality leads — tomorrow, create something you know will still be around.
Your business is too important to leave up to third-party platforms. Take control of your business, grow your email list, and watch your revenue grow.