John Jantsch’s post on email marketing is so important that I’m reposting the whole thing.  Read the original here at Duct Tape Marketing.

Don’t Bother With Social Media Until You Have Email Marketing Nailed

Look, I know there will be those that dispute the idea I’ve put forth in the title to this post, but I’ve become more and more convinced of its validity over the past couple of years.

I think there’s a hierarchy in the world of building a total web presence for your business and mastering things like Facebook and Pinterest fall somewhere far behind getting your content strategy, SEO and email marketing machine oiled and ready for prime time.

It’s not that I don’t think social media is an important or effective part of the puzzle, it’s just that without the proper foundation to build on, content to amplify and email strategy to convert through, your social media efforts will drain your focus and time with little opportunity for return.

An engaged email list, eager to hear from you, is the most valuable asset your can build. 1000 responsive email followers trumps 25,000 Twitter followers every day when it comes to actually promoting the things that make your money. (Unless you’re Justin Bieber I suppose.)

Focus on building a list of email subscribers that want to hear from you and social media will become a tool set to help you do more of that.

So, if you’re one of the many wrestling with how to get more deeply involved in this week’s tactic for getting more fans, but don’t have a strategy to attract and capture email leads, I’ll let you off the hook – ditch social media for now and focus on email marketing first.

Your email marketing plan

One of the most important elements in your email marketing arsenal is a value filled eBook that motivates people to willingly give you their email address. Drop everything you’re doing right now and come up with a plan to create or repurpose valuable, educational content into the form of an eBook, with an accompanying value laden title, and make that the foundation of your lead capture program.

This is a numbers game. You need to promote and highlight your eBook through blogging, guest posting and any participation you have on Facebook and Twitter for the primary purpose of building links, traffic and subscribers attracted to the topic of your eBook and blog content.

These subscribers won’t all be hot prospects, but they will generate the momentum you need through their sharing, linking and otherwise supporting your continued marketing efforts.

In addition to your free eBook you’ll want to plan on consistent communication through the use of a weekly newsletter that offers additional and ongoing value.

You need to build a following first and then you can start to narrow your focus to conversion.

Basic email capture plan:

  • Choose an email service provider (ESP) such as Constant Contact, GetResponse, AWeber, MailChimp or Infusionsoft
  • Use your ESPs form building tools and place a lead capture form on every page of your website. (Don’t ask for more than name and email at this point)
  • Create an email subscription landing page – a page that describes and promotes your eBook and lists all the benefits of why a viewer might give you’re their email address.
  • Create a series of emails, delivered through your ESPs autoresponder function that provides additional information on downloading the eBook as well as related topics that they may find on your blog and in your newsletter.
  • Consider using a pop up form such as Pippity for WordPress that can be programmed to bring focus to your offer in smart ways.
  • Many ESPs have “tell a friend” function that allows readers to easily email your offer to friends – use it!
  • Some ESPs – Aweber specifically – have a feature that make it very easy for people leaving comments to your blog to add their name to your email list. Finding ways to integrate your email capture into other actions is essential
  • Work your networks online and offline and start telling people about your free eBook and newsletter
  • Ask any strategic partners or close associates to trade plugs in their newsletter for the same in yours.
  • Promote your free eBook in social networks on a regular basis

There are too many things to do and not enough time to do them. Don’t divert your focus on the next shiny object that pops into view until you get your email marketing list and follow-up built.

Reprinted with permission