One of the oldest and most universal rules of online marketing has always been "capture as many e-mail addresses with your newsletters, white papers, and other pages as you can." Generally speaking, that's good advice; the bigger your contact list is, the easier time you'll have promoting products and solutions.
But who's to say that e-mail is still the best way to gather them?
Savvy business owners are realizing that friends – the people who follow you on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – can turn out being more valuable than e-mail subscribers. Why? Here are three good reasons:
There's more give and take with social media. Your goal should be to have an ongoing conversation with potential customers, not simply a one-way flow of information offers. The more you can get them involved, the greater chance you have of turning them into regular customers, and that's much easier to accomplish on social networking sites than it is through e-mails.
Fewer people will "un-friend" than they will "unsubscribe." Because social updates are less intrusive than e-mails, you're likely to retain a higher percentage of followers than you are subscribers. That means fewer contacts lost, and fewer names you have to replace regularly.
It's easier for people to recommend you to others via social media. On sites like Facebook, recommending you to other people is as simple as clicking a "thumbs up." Obviously, you want to make it as easy as possible for satisfied customers to show their support.
Social media sites will not replace your email marketing right away, but it's worth making the effort to start moving your customers and subscribers over. Many of them might prefer to hear from you on their favorite sites, and it could turn out to be a great thing for your online sales.