For most commercial website owners, search traffic is the Holy Grail of revenue streams. If they can just appear on the first page of search results, if they can just get above the fold, in the top three, lead the listings, they’ll get a steady flow of targeted leads that their copy can convert with no effort.
And those leads are free…
…as long as you don’t count the hours spent each day tweaking metatags, researching keywords, building links and publishing articles. Or the $76 to $200 an hour charged by professional SEO firms.
Much of that time, and most of those dollars, would be better spent building an email list and maintaining contact with subscribers — and for a number of reasons.
Email Marketing is Predictable
Google recently released the Penguin update to its search algorithm. No one outside Google has explained what the algorithm has changed but then no one outside Google knows exactly how the company’s search algorithm works anyway. All we know about Penguin is that it’s supposed to work against black hat spamming methods and link firms — and that it’s going to knock some sites down the listings. Much of the value of the work that has a company has done over the last few years could suddenly disappear.
That doesn’t happen to email marketers. Lists might shrink but they aren’t destroyed, and when they do get smaller it’s possible to trace the cause and improve the marketing messages.
Google can be as opaque as it wants. Email marketing is transparent.
Results Are Immediate
It’s also fast.
Add new metatags, connect some new links, publish a new blog post, and you’ll be waiting days for Google to re-rank your page. Until then, you’ll have no idea whether your efforts have made any difference at all and whether you’re on the right track.
Email marketing is instant. As soon as the emails hit inboxes, you’ll be able to track views and clickthroughs. Not only will you be able to see the effectiveness of your email copywriting and the depth of the relationship you have with your reader, you’ll also be making money. Send out an email and you’re likely to have sales within minutes. SEO might bring benefits at some point in the future. If it’s been done right.
SEO’s opacity and slowness are bad enough, but its worst characteristic is that it’s also dull. Keyword lists are painful. Metatagging is excruciating. Linkbuilding is tedious. Professional SEO practitioners might get a kick out of a site leaping up the rankings but no one enjoys the work involved in getting it there.
Email marketing, on the other hand, can be enjoyable. You’re talking to a community of people who like your products, think like you and want to hear from you. Writing a newsletter should feel like chatting to a friend. That’s fun… and that’s when email marketing works the best.
None of this means that you shouldn’t be doing SEO. It’s something that every site has to do. But you should be putting more effort into email marketing because it will give you a lot more back.