This graphic from the legendary Oatmeal was the inspiration for this blog post and could not be more on point. If you rely solely or heavily on reaching your online audiences through social media channels, you are at the mercy of their choices.
SocialFlow analyzed over 3,000 posts by publishers on Facebook and found that organic reach dropped 42% between January and May 2016.
Then, later in 2016, Facebook adjusted its News Feed algorithm again — to further prioritize content from friends and family over Pages. In the blog post announcing the algorithm change, Facebook Engineering Director Lars Backstrom warned that Pages could anticipate a dip in organic reach — which could leave reach lower than that earlier 2% estimate, in some cases.
After this algorithm adjustment, SocialFlow adjusted the decline in organic reach — which had dropped further. Between January and July 2016, publishers saw a 52% decline in organic reach on Facebook.
Yes, of course channels like Facebook, Instagram etc. are in the business of making money, and they do that by selling advertising. But what’s alarming about all of this is how businesses have little to no control whatsoever when it comes to communicating with their audiences unless they pay to play. Often times these same businesses have invested extensive resources in building out their online audiences only to watch channels like Facebook continue to lesson the amount of people they can reach organically.
Look, it’s not going to change anytime soon. And in the whole grand scheme of marketing spend, the cost to reach folks on Facebook is actually affordable compared to other traditional methods. But that doesn’t mean businesses shouldn’t be smarter about how they approach their online marketing strategies.
So what’s a business to do?
Crazy right? I’m suggesting old tech as the #1 thing a business can do with their online marketing strategy? Yep. And here’s why:
- You own your audience. When you can accumulate email addresses from your customers and potential customers, you own the list. Your audience isn’t held captive by a 3rd party for marketing spend ransom.
- Email will never die. Email is personal and a viable communications channel. Yes, more and more younger folks ditch email for IM, texting etc., but those people get older, and get jobs, and then become customers. Digital platforms can come and go and/or have waning interest. Email is forever.
- Email is easy. Well, easier. There are hundreds of tools and resources that can help you in your email marketing…some even free. I use Mailchimp for free for my email list, and their platform is as idiot-proof as it can get. I’ve also used a great product called Thrive Leads that integrates with WordPress to create great opt-in email widgets.
- The numbers don’t lie.
- From 3.9 billion email accounts in 2013 to a projected 4.9 billion accounts by the end of 2017, email has more users than social media.
- Email has not only not been slowing down, it’s been growing at a rate of 6% per year.
- Moreover, 91% of all U.S. consumers still use email every day.
- 79% of people use their smartphone for reading email.
So if you’re a business struggling to reach your online audience affordably and effectively, you absolutely should have an email marketing strategy. While it’s not a replacement for your social media efforts, it will provide a lower cost, more effective approach to reaching your customers.