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Are You Balancing Emerging Technology with Effective Strategy?

Posted By Darren Rowse 21st of May 2013 General 0 Comments

Last week I was asked at a conference to reflect upon the future of digital and among other things I made a reflection that seemed to resonate with those gathered. It was:

Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

As online publishers we see a steady stream of articles being written about new and future technologies, companies and trends in the online publishing space.

It is certainly an exciting time to be doing what we’re doing with such amazing development happening all around us and some amazing projections being made about what is ahead of us – however in the midst of all this development it is easy to overlook some of the most effective ‘old’ technologies and trends that we also have at our finger tips.

The reality is that while many new and future technologies are exciting and promising the world – that many of them are still either untested or not yet reaching their potential.

The example I used last week was to compare the effectiveness of social media against email in my own blogging.

On Digital Photography School we have

  • around 300,000 social media connections (mainly Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest)
  • around 300,000 RSS subscribers
  • around 700,000 email subscriber

Last week we

  • updated our social media accounts around 150 times over the week
  • published 14 new posts to our blog (and RSS feed)
  • sent a single email to our email list

Which was the most effective for us in terms of driving traffic?

Hands down it was the email we sent. I’d estimate that last week the single email generated well over 10 times the traffic that the 150 social media updates and the 14 RSS updates combined.

Our previous testing also shows that when we launch a new eBook that a short series of emails will generate over 90% of our sales of our eBooks over launch even though we promote it to social media numerous times during the launch too.

By no means is social media a waste of our time – it helps with multiple objectives that we have (it does drive some traffic, builds community/engagement, helps with branding, drives some sales) but my point is that an old technology like email still has an exceptional return on investment in our situation.

I will continue to invest time, energy and resources into developing a social media strategy – however not at the expense of ‘old’ media that is a tried and true strategy.

What about you – have you got the balance between the ‘new’ and the ‘old’ right? I would love to hear how you approach it?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. We have a few thousand on our E-Mail list, however I promise my customers they will rarely hear from us, unless we are having an Art show,Art weekend, we have something relevant to say or if we’ve won an award.
    Many don’t agree with this philosophy BUT my customers appreciate it. If I have to delete one more E-Mail for a garden hose, my credit score update, or someone wants to meet me, I will scream!!! I swear I will!!!

    • Hey Diane –

      I totally see where your coming from.

      In the past I’ve also been reluctant to mail on a frequent basis.

      But I find (at least for me, not saying everyone) the people who complain the loudest generally aren’t the best customers.

      I think if you can provide something of value daily, go for it. But that’s the key…being able to provide that value consistently.

      Anyways…I can relate with you on this one ;)


  2. Normally, I’m a words person. But I love how you laid out the social media followers against email subscribers, and how effective each was at selling an ebook. A lot of us online marketers “know” that email is better, but it’s really awesome to back it up with hard numbers.

  3. Hi Darren,

    I agree to the fact that we should balance old and new technology. It is important that we learn the new system that lies ahead while we gradually leave the obsolete.

    Thanks for the share.
    Louie Sison.

  4. I’ve heard from several credible sources that email is still the big lead generator, lead nurturer, and money maker! That’s why I’m working on a really great incentive to build my email list, Until then, I’m really relying on social media because I only have a handful of subscribers.

  5. Now I never thought to experiment with this, I mean my email subscribers, but I have 10x less subscribers as compared to you. So 10x less results for me.. huh well I can’t be to your level; obviously.

    But surely your post gave me an inspiration to perform this type of test with my blog. Lets see how much traffic do my subscribers bring to me.

  6. It is rightly said that MONEY IS IN LIST. Email is the most effective way to affect response from potential customers but this source must not be use frequently otherwise it will lose its worth and will not bring desired results

  7. I will say that email has been the biggest convertor when compared to social media and even my own website.

    The real challenge was capturing enough valid emails to start campaign. Tried solo ads and a few others but my own list worked the best.

    I am constantly giving free tools away and the list continues to grow.


    Steve Schellert

  8. I totally agree with this post new is better but old is also good. If there is something new it doesn’t mean that we must forget the old (remember old is what made the new).

  9. I think the answer is “it depends.” It depends on what you want. I see social media further down on the engagement ladder from email. I use social media to bring people to my site, engage with them. Email is with people that have already raised their hands and said I am interest. It is important to remember the level of commitment the person has given.

  10. Hi Darren,

    Combining the new and old tactics in digital marketing will give one’s business best results. One should consider first testing every strategy before saying that it is an effective tactic.

    Blogging and email marketing are good ways to communicate to audience, increase customer base and drive traffic and conversions to one’s site.

    Thanks for sharing this post! ;)

  11. Email is for me the most important traffic generator when I promote seasonal offers. My subscribers only get a few mails per year, just to alert them special events or the availability of the new catalogue (printed). Results are better than Social Media and the investment in time (=money) is less.

  12. This is a necessary part of any successful business. You must be co-ordinate with the latest technologies and effective strategies. for using these co-ordination you can achieve your goals.

  13. Thanks for sharing the metrics. It is nice to see what has been effective, or I should say, more effective, when comparing different approaches. Email seems to float to the top, in many cases.

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