Email list vs social media: what should you focus on?

You get up in the morning, grab your favourite cup of coffee, and quickly scan through your today’s schedule over your breakfast bowl.

  • Check and sort incoming emails
  • Quick discovery Zoom call with a potential new lead
  • Client project work 1
  • Cook (and eat!) lunch (aka ‘short break’)
  • Wrap up client project work 2 and schedule handover session
  • Pick up kids from school
  • Family activities
  • Prepare dinner
  • Work on new service offers
  • ‘free time’

Your plate is already more than full, and this was just a typical day.

You sigh. And you’re wondering which one you should choose.
Should you focus on building your email list or on social media in your remaining ‘free’ time?
Which is better?

Actually, you need to focus on both. You need to approach marketing your business on multiple channels.

But given the fact that as a one-woman (or man) business you’re already doing more than you signed up for. You need a battle plan and a clear strategy.

You need to take into account what each platform can offer. And how they are being used, so that you can create well-performing content pieces for each.

And by that, I mean content that converts.

How can your email list help with conversions?

An email list for a small business is a powerful tool. It’s a more intimate, more relaxed space than social media as your email goes out to a selected few—to your insiders.

Email is suited for longer content compared to the short social media posts. For sequential messages that you can automate via workflows. Messages that build upon each other, prompting your subscribers towards a desired action:

  • Getting to know you—via welcome sequences.
  • Building a trusting relationship with you—via nurture sequences.
  • Booking your services or buying your offers—via promotional/sales sequences.

As they have given you their email address and joined your list, they are more interested and invested in what you offer. They want to get to know you better. And are already more committed to turn into future clients and buyers than those on social media.

Working on your email list can be a daunting task.

You may be struggling with how to get started in general.
What platform you should choose.
What to write about.
How often to email your list and when.

If all this does ring a bell, check out The Beginner-Friendly Guide to Marketing Through Email.

It’s a 63-page guide and workbook for small business owners full of practical tips. It gives you a framework on how to set up and refine your email marketing game plan, including:

  • Finding out what your audience needs or wants
  • Mapping out your email marketing strategy
  • Writing effective emails, among others.

What about social media then?

Well, giving an anonymous like on Instagram. Pasting a simple emoji as a comment to your post. Or hitting the follow button is a teeny-tiny commitment. It takes a mere second.

And on social media, due to the constant algorithm changes, your content reaches fewer people than on your targeted email list.

Oh, you have thousands of followers on social media, and that must be worthy of something—you say.

Then let me ask you this.

Are they actually all your ideal clients?
Are they visiting your website?
Are they DM-ing you to inquire about your services?
Are they hiring you right away from your social media feed?

When you look at all your social media platforms. Those are the metrics that you should focus on. Not how many people have liked or followed you.

If your content is created with your ideal client in mind, even a small social media following of a few hundred people can make a massive difference for your business in terms of revenue. Just think about that.

And answer these questions honestly.

Do you know which social media platforms drive the most traffic to your website?
Do you know how well that traffic converts?
Are you focusing the majority of your time and energy on the most profitable platform(s)?
Now take a look at your Google Analytics data, and it may surprise you.

So what should you do then?

Both your email list and your social media presence can yield results if done right. Doing it right means four things in essence:

Plan. Do. Monitor. Adjust.

Planning involves taking the time to understand who your ideal client and audience is. What their struggles are. And getting clarity about how you can help them to overcome those.

This is also the phase where you schedule the time and plan what content you will be sharing on which platform and when.

Do is as simple as it sounds. Remove all possible distractions. Dedicate that time you reserved for content creation activities.

Set a measurable goal for your content.
Write the content and create visuals to support that goal.
And last but not least publish or post that content.

Monitoring your efforts is crucial. Creating content after content can be a draining chore if you do it for the sake of doing it. Always check the results of your social posts and the performance of your email newsletters.

Did you achieve the goal you set?
Was it a success?
If yes, analyse what went well, and aim to repeat that success.

And if something didn’t resonate with your ideal audience, adjust it, tweak it, until you find that sweet spot.

And your conversions will be up over time.

Keep in mind:

If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.

― Steve Jobs
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