It’s never been more difficult to be an entrepreneur than it is today. In fact, it seems like everyone from every side is trying to make your life more difficult.
If the ever-increasing number of administrative restrictions weren’t enough to make life stressful, we’re now getting this trend where all these major corporations seem to want you to live in a constant state of fear. It’s almost like their erratic algorithms and random arbitrary daily changes exist to create uncertainty and stress.
You now have to constantly worry about how they might randomly and arbitrarily destroy your business plans. You can wake up one day, and simply find that an algorithm on an ad network destroyed all of your lead acquisition and lead conversion processes.
No, this is not about “censorship” or any such thing, it is about something much worse and it should scare every entrepreneur
If you’re following the news, you might think this article is about all the latest drama with corporations “censoring” smaller businesses and personalities on the web. You might even be looking at all these debates about whether corporations should be able to do those things or not.
Here’s the trick: it doesn’t matter where you stand on this debate. As an entrepreneur there’s a far more important topic you should be worried about. In fact, it doesn’t matter where you stand on the current debates about whether corporations can decide (on a whim) who gets to communicate or not. All of that is irrelevant.
What I want you to focus on is something that should scare you as an entrepreneur regardless of the aforementioned topic
It actually comes down to something much worse. Something far more scarier that all entrepreneurs can and should agree is a huge risk to small and medium sized businesses.
Aside from email, providers of all and any other communication channels can and do own your audience and all the effort and investment you put into building that audience. They also end up owning all the business processes and methods you build to acquire and convert leads.
And if you don’t understand the danger with this arrangement, then you must not have been doing much business online for very long. There is a reason why all the veterans are running back to email and currently restructuring their processes to rely more on email, and less on these other channels.
“Own my audience”, what does that mean?
Well, an obvious positive example is when you own an email list of people who have opted-in to hear from you. This is a situation where you own your audience, and nobody can tell you when and how much you can reach out to them or for what reason.
For example, we at Emercury believe that you should be able to send your messages to your subscribers no matter what vertical it is. If your subscribers requested to hear from you, then who are we to stop you from delivering your messages.
But in order to truly understand what it means to not own your audience, we have to look at some major disastrous episodes where people had to learn their lessons the hard way. So let’s look at a few of these.
You want to at least get a grasp of how and why people ended up destroying themselves and their incomes by over-investing in new channels. This should help you from making the same mistakes when fancy new promising channels come around.
Scenario 1: That situation where people wasted years building an audience on YouTube, only to lose everything overnight
The promise of a fancy new channel that’s going to come and beat email has tricked so many people over the years. People online have been trying to replace email for decades. And every time a new hyped-up contender comes up, it has failed to deliver on that promise. Even worse, the people who invest in such channels always end up in a terrible situation once the honeymoon period is over.
One such obvious example is the situation with YouTube. In the early days people who utilized this shiny new channel built up fairly large audiences quite quickly. It didn’t even take much effort. And then whenever you wanted to reach out to your audience you would post a video telling them to buy stuff, and they would do it. It was almost like magic, and quite easy.
But then, over time things started getting more difficult. The more YouTube grew, the more your channel had to compete with other channels. Simply posting a video no longer meant your subscribers would get to view it. YouTube started implementing ever more complex algorithms that would decide whether your subscribers even get to learn that you posted a new video.
But entrepreneurs being the hard-working bunch they are, simply accepted that things will get harder and more difficult.
Over time people just accepted that it takes a lot more work to succeed on YouTube. It would now take much more effort to build a subscriber base and make sure that your content reaches your subscribers.
And then, the next shock hit everyone. All of a sudden YouTube decided they weren’t fond of certain verticals and types of content.
Now, a lot of people might know about this situation only in terms of political or controversial content. But that’s not the extent of it. That’s only the part of the story that got attention. The truth is that YouTube decided they wanted to become more like a Netflix of sorts and prioritize more corporate content.
All of a sudden content from the big corporate content producers was pushed ahead of the independent content producers with some people seeing their revenues drop to almost nothing.
All of this happened overnight, due to an algorithm change. With many having invested over a decade in making their business revolve around YouTube. And then they lost everything, overnight, just like that.
And that right there is the danger and risk you take each time you invest in a fancy-schmancy new channel that promises to replace email. It’s always a trap, because it’s always controlled by a corporation who can just decide to change the rules of the game on a whim.
What these people could, and should have done differently
Here’s a hint – and it’s a huge hint that I want you to take away from this article even if you don’t get anything else out of it. Are you ready for this hint?
Do you know that these people could have simply emailed their subscribers whenever they had a new video up?
Sounds obvious right? But most of them didn’t do it. Some wasted a decade trusting that YouTube will always be there for them and never developed a fallback system.
What they should have done, from day 1, is to push hard for people to subscribe to their newsletter first, with subscribing to the channel being secondary.
If you have their email address you can always remind them to subscribe to the channel. However, the other way round doesn’t guarantee anything. A person subscribing to your channel might never see another one of your videos ever again.
This “email-first” approach would have allowed them to build an email audience that they own. They could have spent those years training these people to open their emails. And they could have also built a money-making automation or two while they’re at it.
But they never did. And why might that be? They put all their trust in a corporation and a new channel that simply cannot give you the amount of ownership as an email list.
Scenario 2: All those businesses who spent a ton of money building up a following on Facebook, only to have it wiped out by Facebook with no warning
This is another classic example that followed a very similar pattern to the one I described above with YouTube. I will not repeat myself too much and skip the similarities.
Suffice it to say, when Facebook pages were a new thing, it was all the rage for businesses. Everyone was obsessed with getting as many people to like their business page as possible. In the start this made sense. You would publish a post on your business page and every single one of your fans would see it.
Then Facebook introduced the option for businesses to advertise for likes. And boy did businesses spend a ton of money to get as many likes to their page as possible. It made sense right? Say you get 20,000 likes to your page. This means that whenever you make a post saying “hey guys buy this”, it reaches 20,000 people. Totally makes sense right? Well, it did at the time.
And then Facebook slowly but surely kept chipping away at the reach. Eventually it got to the point where your likes became next-to-useless. Only a tiny fraction of the people who liked your page would see anything you ever posted. Can you imagine how many people got suckered into spending a ton of money on campaigns to “get page likes”.
And that always happens and will continue happening with any new channel that comes up. Yet people never seem to learn the lesson – email is the only channel where you own your audience.
What these people could have, and should have done differently
You might guess from the hints I gave in the YouTube example. These people could have just as easily invested that money into getting email addresses instead of likes. And when you have someone’s email address you can always send them an email asking them to also like your page. You get a two-for-one.
But a lot of people failed at this super-obvious method and wasted money buying their likes directly. They got no new email addresses in the process and nothing to show for it in the long-term.
Are you starting to see a pattern here? Is there a lesson to be learned emerging from this discussion? Can you see what a wise person might do in the future whenever a hyped up new channel appears on the internet?
Scenario 3: The hordes of marketers who invested a ton of money and time in building up automated systems on messenger for nothing
Depending on the business circles you move in, you might know people who were totally destroyed by this channel. Perhaps you haven’t even heard of what happened. Trust me though, a lot of small businesses are currently suffering because of this mess. And you don’t want to see the rants by marketers and business owners who were completely decimated by what happened. Some even went out of business because of it.
If you have no clue what I’m talking about, let me give you a super quick summary
A few years back, Facebook introduced this revolutionary new way to build relationships with people. It was going to change how businesses communicate with customers. It could replace and supersede email.
The idea was that you could build up an audience of people on messenger. It would be just like how you create email marketing lists. You could then do “broadcasts” to your list or segments of it. Just like you do with email. And hey you could even build automations just like you do with email.
And wouldn’t you believe it, at the start it actually worked better than email. In fact, it was the first channel to ever get even higher engagement rates than email. In fact that was it’s main selling point. Finally a channel that accomplishes the impossible – better engagement rates than email.
Well, if it sounds too good to be true, you know where it’s going to end up. You should be recognizing a pattern by now I hope. If it claims to work better than email, it’s not going to end well.
And then, then the inevitable happened
All of a sudden and out of nowhere it was announced that this channel would get severely limited. You would no longer be able to just send messages to your subscribers whenever you want. And in fact, you’d have to pay-per-message-sent for any message sent after the first 24 hours. That’s right, it only works like an email list in the first 24 hours after people subscribe, and after that, the magic is gone.
Even worse, paying to send to your list doesn’t mean they’ll actually receive your messages. In fact, you enter a bid system just like with regular ads. Your subscribers can only see the paid messages you send if you outbid others vying for their attention. Not much like an email list now is it?
As you might imagine the businesses who spent a ton of money building up lists on this channel were furious. You saw tens of thousands of rants by marketers and small business owners complaining about this. “Why did you have us build up these lists if we can’t even message them, what was the whole point?”.
Some small consolation prizes were given
Businesses were told that wasting tons of money to build up these lists wasn’t “a complete waste”. At least they got “all the automated onboarding and segmentation stuff out of it”.
Sure you now have to find a way to somehow condense your entire automated system into a 24 hour window, but better than losing everything right?
Now, consider that many businesses based a lot of their processes on this channel. Restaurants would build processes where people would message them on Facebook, and an automated chatbot would book a table for them.
Yoga chains would build entire onboarding systems where people can register and pay for their memberships through messenger. They would get all their session reminders through messenger, their onboarding sequences, their club passes, everything really.
After the first big shift, they could at least keep whatever part of their business process occurred in the first 24 hours. Perhaps the welcoming message, and whatever happens in the first 24 hours.
In theory you still had a way to message people after 24 hours, however…
As a consolation prize, people were told it was still possible to message people after 24 hours in one of two ways.
The first method lets you message people after the first 24 hours by using these special “tags”. For example you could tag a message as being a “reminder”. You could use these for a booking someone made over message. There is a small list of allowed tags, and all of them exclude any sort of promotional messaging of any kind. Using the wrong tag for the wrong tag can get you restricted or even banned from Facebook entirely.
The other method allows you to send any kind of message after 24 hours, even a promotional one. But here’s the catch, with this method you’re allowed to send only “one more message with a special authorized previously obtained permission”.
No, this is not a joke. You have 24 hours to get everything done, and also get permission to message them “one more time”. And that permission has to be about one very specific thing. So you have to know in advance what you’re asking them permission to message them about in the future. And again, this permission is to send them just one single-message in the future.
But the horror show didn’t stop there…
Businesses tried to implement this overly complicated and convoluted system based on tags and special permissions… and many of them got banned, for life.
That’s right, if you followed any of these super-duper complicated rules about how and why you may or may not message a subscriber after 24 hours and missed a tiny implementation detail, you got banned or restricted. To make it worse, thousands claimed they followed the overly complicated rules and still got banned, unfairly.
And that’s not even the end of the story. One day some government agency in the EU decided to put in some regulations that made these remaining processes even more unusable. So if your business is in Europe, you have even a single European on staff or advertise at all to Europeans, you are now faced with a whole new level of issues that I won’t even go into describing. Just take the horror show described above, and multiply it by 10 for European marketers.
Are you starting to see a trend in all of these horror stories?
There are two main lessons to take away here. First lesson – every channel that has promised to replace or kill email has ended up hurting the people who fell for the promise.
The second lesson is that you always want to base your business process on email first, experimental channels second. That way, even if (or rather when) these alternate channels go sour, you still have your audience backed up in the email channel.
Silicon Valley corporations are not your friend, and they can pull the rug out underneath you at any time, unlike email
Again, if you’ve been following the latest trends with these corporations getting full of hubris and “we can do whatever we want and treat our users however we like and change the rules of the game on a whim”, you might have missed the main point. I can’t blame you as most people will focus on non-business aspects such as “political censorship”.
You might even be one of those marketers selling something more inoffensive and bland. Hence you don’t bat an eye when edgier niches start getting banned left and right. You might see weight-loss and real-estate affiliate marketers getting destroyed and banned, and you might think “but hey I’m not one of those people”. I will warn you though. It won’t stop with the weight-loss and make money niches. It never does.
But it doesn’t matter where your opinion lies on that subject
You might even be one of the people saying “they’re a private entity, they can do whatever they want”. If they decide today that this is a vertical they don’t like, they can just randomly destroy it, on a whim. Even if this something that you worked on for years.
But if you’re an entrepreneur that’s missing the point. It’s not about whether they should be able to do it. It’s about the fact that they do and can just randomly change the rules of the game on a whim.
And if you think they only do this based on things like politics and reducing “not-nice content”, you haven’t been in business long enough. That’s why I shared with you those 3 stories above about. They’re just a small sample of the times when people got burned by putting too much trust into these corporations.
None of those examples had to do with either politics nor the vertical or type of content in question. In the 3 examples I gave you above, everyone got burned regardless of their niche.
Email is still your friend, it will always be there for you
Don’t worry, email does not get angry or mad that people abandon it for shiny new toys. It doesn’t get angry if they only come back to email after they get burned. Email will welcome them back with open arms. And we love to see how happy entrepreneurs are when they rediscover the beauty of email.
As providers of email sending services we’re used to it. Each time a channel gets destroyed, we see a surge of people flocking back to email, and we’re seeing that gold rush right now. We are happy that people are experiencing the joys of email yet again.
We just hope that people learn their lessons and don’t get suckered into new hyped-up channels in the future. The main thing is to remember the right lessons for the future. Never base your primary lead-storage mechanism on any other channel. Always go through email first, and other channels second.
Whatever new channel becomes trendy, you can always ask leads for their email address first, and their attention on the new channel second. Never replace email as the primary means of owning a lead, it always ends badly.
Speaking of a friend that’s on your side
We at Emercury believe that you should be able to send your messages to your subscribers no matter what vertical it is. If your subscribers requested to hear from you, then who are we to stop you from delivering your messages.
If you ever go and look at our reviews, you’ll notice all the raving 5-star reviews. And I can reveal the secret to those 5-star reviews. We just really genuinely care about our partners. Notice I said partners, not “customers”. This is because we see anyone that signs up for Emercury as a partner, not a “user”.
Emercury is more than just a “software platform that sends email”
The thing that astonishes everyone is that you get to an actual real-life team of humans. These are people who are on your side and want to help you get the most out of email.
If you want to get a sense for this experience, consider booking a free demo with our team, this is the best way to get a sense for the “Emercury Experience”.
At the very least, you’ll also want to go through our super-valuable free guides and articles on email marketing. They’re all accessible to you for free through the blog category.
And let me tell you, we give away more secrets to utilizing email marketing on our blog than you will ever find in any sort of a paid course, so be sure to bookmark our email-marketing tips blog.
And if you don’t want to manually check when we release stuff, it might be a good idea to register for a free plan. Aside from getting access to an amazing forever-free email-sending plan, you’ll also be notified whenever we release new secrets and guides. So be sure to grab your username over here.