‘Likes’ Or Listings: Which Offers A Better Return?

It wasn’t that long ago that the email list was a prerequisite of business success.

If you were starting a new venture you needed to get your hands on one of these: if you were already trading, then you needed to build your email list if you wanted to expand. Then something happened that changed the way businesses engaged with customers. Well, we say ‘something’ when perhaps the word ‘revolution’ or ‘phenomenon’ is more appropriate. The phenomenon was called social media, or more particularly, Facebook. As soon as Facebook caught fire, email listings effectively lost their value. Businesses quickly sussed that a Facebook ‘like’ was the gold standard by which all other forms of engagement are judged.  Yet there are still some companies out there that believe in the value of email listings. Are they digital dinosaurs, or do they in fact know something the rest of us don’t? Well, most marketers think they’re just Luddites, but are the experts right?

Are email lists a thing of the past?

Well, the answer in short is yes; a Facebook like is more effective than an email lead. Obviously there isn’t anything wrong with listings per se. but if modern businesses really want to exploit the full potential of the digital market, they will have to embrace the social media market and cultivate Facebook likes. And why’s that?  Well, here are 3 good reasons.

Automation can’t generate interaction.

If your email inbox is flooded with unwanted spam everyday then you’ve every right to feel a little cheesed off, especially if you haven’t opted into some of these subscriber’s listings. Spam emails are annoying and incredibly frustrating. They’re also counter-productive. You might read the first few out of a sense of obligation, but by the time you reach the fifth or the sixth, you’ve hit the wall. What you do then is block or delete the rest, even the ones that might have been useful or beneficial to you or your business.

So all the effort put in by internet marketing to generate email lists becomes pointless.

Users won’t respond or interact with automated communications.

Facebook “likes” are different. Likes allow the prospect to actually see more of your brand. They make your brand look more credible. The prospects will receive a business’ latest updates, links, pictures and videos on their walls, and they can interact with the business by asking questions and having an ongoing dialogue. Marketing brands through social media channels is more personal and real. Prospects feel like they are dealing with a person, not an automaton.

Facebook likes are more shareable.

When you subscribe to an email list, you will receive e-newsletters and promotions every now and then. Do you read them? Well, probably not:  most of us just skim through these and delete them. Very few of us would ever bother sharing the contents of the email with their friends or business acquaintances, simply because it’s just too time-consuming and laborious to copy in those who you think might like the content. Besides, if you did forward on this stuff to colleagues they’d probably think you were trying to sell them something. Email listings don’t have the viral capabilities of Facebook likes. They’re slow and ineffective and do little to develop any degree of trust between a business and its prospects.

When you press the “like” or “share” button on a particular article or brand on Facebook, naturally all the friends in your network will see it when they visit your Wall. If they “like” it too, they will do the same thing as you, and instantly, all the friends on their network will be notified. Shared “likes” have the ability to keep on growing exponentially, with a potential to spread to all of Facebook’s 900 million plus users throughout the world.

Real-time or scheduled communication?

Real-time communication and speed are essential in our digital world. We don’t just want the news today: we’d prefer to have it yesterday. Regular scheduled email updates are just too slow and antiquated, and can’t compete with real-time communication updates on Facebook. With the advent of internet phones, it’s now much more convenient for mobile users to check their Facebook notifications, at any given time in any given part of the world; communication is now instant.

Rupert Murdock once famously said:

“The world is changing very fast: big will not beat small anymore. It’s now a matter of the fast beating the slow.”

Now, nobody sets a great deal of store by anything associated with News International these days, given what’s gone on, but he was making a valid and apposite point none the less. Instant communication is essential for both news and business, and this can only be accomplished digitally. So if businesses really want to exact the maximum leverage out of the market, they will have to embrace the digital revolution. Email listings are no longer king. That king is dead in the internet marketing age, long live the digital king.

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