In 2021, put your money where your mail is

Sabri Suby's 2021 digital marketing forecast doesn't include shiny new tech, robots, or virtual reality. His prediction is that email and text marketing works, and he's sticking with them.

With a new year on the horizon, it’s the season of endless think pieces predicting what lies ahead for 2021. But as this year has shown, no one can really see into the future, and predictions are usually wrong.

Here’s what we know for sure: business owners must stop relying on the big tech platforms to dictate their business success. Allowing Facebook, Google, and Instagram to control every part of your business is also giving them the power to take it away.

As I’ve written previously, small businesses have been locked out of their ad accounts this year for supposedly violating Facebook’s terms of service, and have missed out on thousands of dollars’ worth of business in the process. Even Joe Biden wasn’t immune to the wrath of Facebook’s ever-changing policies.

Take back control

The solution is simple, and it’s been staring you in the face since the age of the Nokia 3310. As we head into 2021, it’s time to regain control via the assets you do own, namely, your email and text messaging databases.

As a marketer, your job should be to funnel everyone from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, wherever, and get them on your email and text message lists. These are the only platforms you can control, and the only platforms you can ever truly trust.

With this strategy, I personally know that even if I turned off all my social media ad spend for my agency for several months, I would be fine. I’ve spent the time and effort transforming people from a mere vanity metric on social media to a genuinely engaged lead who actually enjoys opening my emails and reading my messages. I’ve built a relationship with those people, and that’s far more valuable than a like or a follow on social media could ever be.

On email, you’re free to say what you like. You won’t be censored by Facebook or Google’s strict policies, which currently block advertisers from ‘negative sentiment’, sharing information about revenue, or even from swearing. If swearing makes sense for your brand and your tone of voice, you should be allowed to do it. On email, it’s not an issue.

Email is bigger than Facebook

Facebook likes to tell the world about its massive user base, but it’s easy to forget that email is still bigger. With 3.9 billion email users right now, that’s more than Facebook (2.6 billion) and Twitter (330 million) combined. Email users are on track to reach 4.3 billion by 2023.

Email is simply too big and too important in the lives of billions of people to ever fail. Email transcends generations, time zones, and social groups. And let’s not forget: email is essentially free. Aside from a small hosting fee, you’re free to send as many emails as you want, to as many people as you want, without lining Facebook’s pockets.

Attention in the inbox is very different from the chaotic environment of the newsfeed, where your prospect is just one thumb-scroll from a video of a cat wearing socks, or people snorting lines of cinnamon and eating ghost chillies. People are far less distracted, and are ready to give me their time and attention.

Text messages take this one step further, by reaching customers where they’re at their most engaged. When done right, text marketing can be one of the most powerful forms of digital marketing. You own your text database. No one can take it away from you, and no one is charging you to reach those customers, because they’re already loyal. The trick is to attract those customers in the first place, and when you’ve got them, keep them wanting more.

So while marketers and business owners mindlessly obsess over Snapchat, Tiktok, Reddit Ads and Messenger bots, screaming from the rooftop that they’ll be ‘the death of email’, my clients and I sit back and laugh.

In 2021, we’ll continue enjoying the fruit that email and text messages pick for us daily.

Sabri Suby is the founder of King Kong.


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