Just over a week ago I released the WooCommerce Cookbook. And when I did that I also shared the announcement post on social media. A few days later I dug into the data to figure out exactly how many people went to the purchase page from my social media efforts. The results weren't amazing.
A few days later I sent out the message to my newsletter subscribers. I've heard stellar things about newsletters out performing social media but that wasn't exactly the case here. Let's look at the numbers.
Share on Newsletter
I sent my newsletter out to my 361 subscribers. This is a significantly smaller audience than my personal Twitter following and most of my social media accounts.
I had 193 opens (54.2%) and 57 clicks (15.7%) on my call to action links (there were other links for people who already pre-ordered).
A big difference between the social media links and the links in my newsletter is that I included links directly to the WooCommerce Cookbook in my newsletter. That's because I've been sending them tons of information over the past few months warming them up. They already know what the book is about and they subscribed to get updates on the book. They didn't need any extra motivation they just needed the buy button.
Most of the people seeing the social media message didn't previously hear about the book so I sent them to a page that briefly explains what it's about and then links them to the sites where they can buy it.
The newsletter sent 25 visits to the publishers website and 32 visits to Amazon.com. For now let's assume every single person who went to the publishers website bought the hardcover book (I'm aware that that's far far far from what actually happened) that would be $175. And $156 from Amazon.
The total from both is: $331.
Are Newsletters Worth It?
Compared to the social media experiment the newsletter generated 22% less than social media. That's not great. Add on the fact that I had to write and send 11 newsletters warming up the audience. It's not this amazing panacea that some marketers make it out to be. I suppose this isn't a novel idea but it's still a revelation for me: newsletters take work.
This is my first newsletter which I've had for eleven months. My social media accounts I've had for several years so that's definitely unfair. I've never offered an incentive to join my list other than “get cool news about WooCommerce”. I certainly could have done a better job adding an incentive, adding an auto responder series, and sending out more content. All of those would have boosted engagement or subscribers.
If you have the time to dedicate to a newsletter I can see it being very valuable. If on the other hand this is a side project it may not be the best use of your time. It takes time to write the newsletters, time to setup the newsletter on your site, and time to learn newsletter best practices and strategies.
If I was forced to choose either social media or newsletters for my personal brand I'd choose social media. There's less engagement but you only have to talk to people. You don't have to prepare special content.
I'm well aware this experiment wasn't scientific. It's the best I could do with the limited data & time I had. I hope this helps you! 🙂