Why a Mailchimp email is better than a Facebook page

I am always getting a kick in from people about emails.
I don’t like WORKING in email – it is a time suck and a closed loop.

Where as tools like Trello, Asana and the amazing Slack allow open and transparent collaborative communication.

My point today is about email lists – I call mine my “email community” and I am clear I need them more then they need me. I refer to the big list in Mailchimp as my ‘community’ because ‘list’ feels like I am going to ‘send out an email blast’ which is like throwing a bucket of water over a crowd of people and hoping that no one complains.

So where was I?

Of course people don’t always agree with me. I had a small public stand off with the European head of social for a ‘quite big compnay’ a couple of years ago about Facebook vs email opt ins. I got a slap on the wrists from one of the organisers for being so obnoxious in my stance on the topic, I was a little full of myself – mainly because I’d just got back from playing golf with Seth Godin in San Francisco.

Their point was that a facebook like was worth more than an email opt in. I nearly called the Police.

I have long taken my lead from both the Copyblogger dudes and Ramsey at Blog Tyrant around everything email, blogging and copy. At London Bloggers and techMAP we have been able to have people like Mitch Joel and Mark Shaaffer offer their pearls of wisdom on this topic. Not to mention all the people I have podcasted with on different projects with Andy Bargery, Ripley Nox and my current cohost Jon Buscall – and believe me I only co-host with these people because they are smarter than me 😉

In fact the main point of doing a podcast is to ask very smart people questions so you can keep your tool kit up to date.

When I track where people have given me money over the last few years over 60% of it has come from my email community. Some of this is ticket sales for events, this is £25 here and there and for workshops around £200 a head. The big projects I worked as a freelancer on have mostly been connected to people reading this blog and then responding to an email newsletter from me.


People sign up for my email community I sync them to my Nimble CRM that goes online and finds peoples social media profiles so I get a complete picture of who they are and where we connect. If I was a nasty sales person there is all sorts of stalking I could do here, but I am crap at selling and really more interested in people, so I’ll read their blog and often share it and say hello on twitter. Over the years I have just got good at reading blogs and remembering the people when I meet them.

This would be hard to do with the 20K + people on the OuiShare Facebook page or the nearly 10K people on the OuiShare Mailchimp – this is easy for me. At the time of my ruckas with the ‘quite big company person’ Facebook were not charging for reach like they do now but I knew it was a bad deal. The new ‘Facebook revenue model’ only serves to strengthen my position and since then Copyblogger have shut down their own Facebook page as it did not generate any real value for them in terms of community or simple stone cold revenue. They don’t always get it right – Copyblogger also bet hard on Google Plus and now that is nearly done too.

So lets look at this, Facebook does not really work, Google Plus is being ‘reimagined’, LinkedIn is for sales people and recruiters and even worse sometimes sales people who want to be recruiters. I am a twitter fan boy so I am biased here, but I will say that the level of interaction has dropped on Twitter in the last year. Which leads me to the on going act of building and maintaining an email community, over the last ten years the one constant in my ‘communications toolbox’ has been my email community.

Don’t be too impressed, I have sent some horrific things in that time, messed up – in fact if I told you the least of my worries when I look back has been spelling you would get an idea of how bad I have been. I have learnt from these mistakes too, I have misjudged my community and other communities I have worked with and what works for ‘Bernie’s email’ does not duplicate else where. Two recent projects were OuiShare where Elena and I ran the main community mailchimp before handing over to the super cool Khushboo. When we started to email regularly the open rate went up significantly as did new people subscribing – some of this was because of a big leap around subscribers at OuiShare Fest 2014 and more traffic to the OuiShare site.

Where it did not go so well was @90mainyard. It has bothered me for ages where the disconnect was and I think it is this. Having the balls to ask people ‘was that email helpful?’ it is amazing how we do so many things with people we sit in the same place as yet never mention the main commincation we have sent them. The next time I am in a project like this I’ll work harder to get honest and direct feedback from people who I am communicating with. Nothing horrible happened, I just have a feeling the community could have connected sooner if I had researched the email newsletter and made it more personal.

So to conclude, make your email personal to begin with and welcome people with a genuine auto responder and love, as the list grows you’ll work out what to do. I think ‘trying to be bigger than you are’ is a false economy and connecting with people is where the gold is.
As you are connecting with people make it about THEM – if you find yourself sending an email newsletter with a HUGE picture of you in and your name appears too many times you have missed the point.

In a couple of weeks I am running a workshop on blogging at Echo in Stratford. If you are a freelancer, small business, start up this will work for you. If you are are one of these AND you are intrested in the the Sharing Economy this will really work for you! RSVP here and sign up for Echo here.

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