Social Media & Business: Don't believe the hype

Social Media & Business: Don’t believe the hype

I can't tell you the number of times I've read about why you should allocate money & time to social media. There are countless articles and posts about "conversion optimization tips".

Tweet More. Engagement. More Likes. Gimme.

But do they actually make a difference?!?

That's the question that most people forget to ask.

So, I put out a tweet about my How to Make your First Dollar Course to find out for myself.

Out of 13,090 followers how many would you expect to click after I tweeted?



More like 109 clicks, a 0.8% CTR. WTF Twitter?!? Compare my Twitter conversion rate to my email conversion.

Either most of my followers are bots or something funky is going on.

How many times have you heard someone say "you have to be on YouTube" or brag about how many Facebook fans they have?

It's distracting with case studies making it appear that social media is the new holy grail.

The real secret is that there is no same way that will work for marketing in all businesses.

So I was curious how many clicks I got via email from my 3,547 subscribers.

882 clicks!!! Holy shit

First off I love you.

Secondly, that's a 24.8% CTR and 8x improvement over Twitter.

Bottom-line: I'm not saying you must go use email over Twitter but I wanted to plant the seed for you to focus on effectiveness vs hype...

When's the last time you were surprised?


P.S. It is interesting that when I asked my Twitter followers to join my email list I had a huge response. As we learned above email has a better click-through-rate so it's worth asking your Twitter followers and Facebook fans on a regular basis to join your email list. It's one of the best ways to get more subscribers.


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143 responses to “Social Media & Business: Don’t believe the hype”

May 13, 2019 at 3:23 pm

Been grappling with this fro months, spent some $$ with very small results and realized they want you to be in it 'for the long term'.. yeah till you stop breathing maybe? I Agree, everyone seems to chant the social media tune and you feel pushed to join the crowd, BIG BIG crowd, you get lost... frustrated with all the efforts and skimpy results, only to realize how much you wasted .
My question is how do you do this if your friends list is small? How can yan you get emails to build your list from twitter users? IMO friends waste your time.
What's the way forward? Any suggestions? (And : Yeh Noah you got MY email, what's yours?0.

Laurel Bern
June 14, 2018 at 12:04 am

Thank you so much for sharing this! I'm an interior designer turned full-time ID blogger and it's going very well.

I tell anyone who's interested that my blog is my social media. Take those silly links off of your website. You want people staying ON your site unless your primary means of business is on facebook or somewhere else.

However, for me, pinterest drives thousands of visitors to my blog every day. But pinterest is really a search engine.

The problem is that brands and retailers have bought the hype and are slow to understand the reality.

Thanks again!

Tom Spence (
October 1, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Absolutely loved this post Noah! Some great things to think about so thanks for sharing. For me, the one remarkable thing that happened recently is private messaging people on Instagram. Just tee'ing relationships that I might be able to use in the future! Started with people a little further down the road than me and was completely honest with what I said. So far so good!

Rollis Fontenot III
September 10, 2017 at 11:24 am

It seems like social media is largely a waste of time if not coupled with paying to boost the posts. We receive similar very low ROI on organic/unpaid social media posts unless it is a topic that really grabs people.

September 3, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Thanks Noah for sharing those real numbers!
I guess it has the same philosophy as do vs talk. Unless I do and test by myself I rely on others' experiences and journeys which might be completely different to mine...

August 27, 2017 at 4:01 pm

Denise D-T's marketing was exceptional for her latest launch - combination of email and social media. But I liked how after the campaign ended she acknowledged that she was sending out a lot of emails and then her email routine went back to normal. I liked this approach and was in contrast to other campaigns/methods I've experience when they just ramp up emails more and more which I really don't like.

Besnik Ligaci
August 14, 2017 at 5:28 am

Great stuff as always. You keep delivering knowledge with every post and newsletter that you release. ?

Lena Shaw
July 11, 2017 at 7:45 pm

I love this, "The real secret is that there is no same way that will work for marketing in all businesses." It's simple, not sexy but it's true.

I appreciate your candid yet actionable approach to life and not simply marketing. We're still marketing, selling, talking AT people. Everyone is different. It's time to ditch frameworks and begin giving marketers something real.

sheralyn jones
July 9, 2017 at 10:34 pm

Noah, spot on again! Twitter is ridiculous for me for marketing as I can't cram what I want to say in 140 characters!!! Also, FB is becoming pedantic and unfocused- all over the place.
If I'm marketing food, I want a TARGET audience! Not sure if honing an email list is the best way, but I'm digging this hole deeper and will keep going that route! Thoughts??

Fluid Frame
July 9, 2017 at 8:38 pm

I ran Facebook ads for a Father's day sale I did for a local physical product I make. 9 optins, zero sales. I posted the product at full price on Facebook marketplace for free and sold 6! I have yet to hear a marketer mention selling locally on Facebook marketplace. Glad I did and still doing it!

July 9, 2017 at 5:01 pm

I was surprised to see that, judging by the comments, you first published this in 2013 - I thought Twitter actually worked back then! But my experience now, albeit with (very) much smaller numbers, is that the ratio is about the same, maybe worse. Anything up to 50% CTR with email versus Twitter / FB..... well it's mostly crickets.

June 25, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Seeing ikea furniture in the Paris metro a few years back was surprising, entertaining and effective (i.e. I took a picture, shared it with my friends back then and still remember the experience fondly now)

May 15, 2017 at 7:00 am

And the numbers keep rolling in. Marketing organically on social media is a low ROI.

Tom Augenthaler
April 7, 2017 at 10:05 am

About time someone called BS on what passes for social media marketing by so many. Please keep it up as I find your posts informative, helpful and inspirational.

It's also nice to know I'm not the only one who sees through a lot of the crap!

March 31, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Something surprising: Our new rescue pup is 9 lbs of fur and fearlessness. The one thing that really terrifies him--making fart sounds with your mouth. He's 8" tall and that is the ONE thing that will send him three floors down and hiding under a sofa. Theories?

Additionally, I love this post. Especially since I did have good experiences with social media a decade ago, but that was then, and now only recently did I purchase Sumo Pro. I am excited for when I have a minute to integrate all of its tools with my site and see some carefully crafted magic occur!
Just yesterday a friend in Austin helped me work out a plan of action to grow my passion project into a legit, money-making business: write an ebook (writing is my superpower), give it away with email/newsletter sign-up, offer readers a discount on the Kundalini Yoga 40-day video plans I am working on, and make the world a better place 🙂
Thanks Noah for Sumo, your emails, and having fun in the process!

March 30, 2017 at 5:28 pm

Noah - two things might skew the results in favor of the email campaign: 1) email list might be a "clicker" file vs general people who Opt'd in to your email list 2) email creative and subject line.

Steve nathan
March 23, 2017 at 7:17 pm

The difference between personal one to one and one to many, yelling into the darkness. Personalised is the way forward.

Andrew M. Warner
February 10, 2017 at 7:57 pm

Oh most definitely, Noah.

I had a similar experience. And have heard many people share similar experiences. Email list will always be better than whatever you promote on social media. So it stands to reason that building an email list is the No. 1 thing you need to do for your business.

- Andrew

February 4, 2017 at 6:27 pm

I don't care about social media. I do believe you are one of the best for me to read.
I'm a grama just getting going on this internet thing. Stay sane and go for it!

January 20, 2017 at 12:37 am

Yes, it's so true. I've got more leads via email than Twitter or any other social media. Email works because it's not like facebook newsfeed where your post might get lost in the crowd. We read every email we receive or at least click on it to delete.

December 9, 2016 at 7:17 am

You asked what has surprised me! I'd say it's people's ignorance and negativity towards working from home. I initially thought network marketing was a fab idea to work from home and thought everyone else would agree and join my business! So I was surprised everyone said no and even friends ignore you!

November 24, 2016 at 8:17 pm

This is really great idea..i would love to learn more..
Happy Thanksgiving

Will McLellarn
August 11, 2016 at 9:00 pm

I was very surprised to learn that Jet was being acquired, despite a languishing business model. I guess Wal-Mart is feeling the squeeze, or out of better options! Good for the Jet folks though.

Laura Wilbur
July 22, 2016 at 6:12 am

Noah, I think there is too much emphasis on trying to be on all social platforms. I think the first concentration should be on creating great content or products, building an email list nad then picking one or two social platforms to promote them and not 5 or 6. Just my opinion.

June 16, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Good to know!!

June 12, 2016 at 3:09 pm

I was surprised when Gangnam Style became the first Youtube video to reach one billion views and it was really just intended to be a sort of prank to mock hipsters. Goes to show, you never know what might go viral...

Stuart Russell
June 2, 2016 at 5:30 pm

I follow you on twitter and don't remember seeing the tweet you mentioned. But i did read your email. Email in box has about 30 emails each morning. twitter feed has 1000's
its clear that email will get higher attention, from me any way.

April 8, 2016 at 12:09 am

I have never trully utilized twitter for anything rather than talking to my friends. I'm kind of new to online marketing and just learning things, putting content one day at a time. So to answer your question, I read blogs like your to learn things.

April 1, 2016 at 12:25 am

Loved the article thanks Noah. It's a relief too, I find social media to be... not a good use of my time.

March 17, 2016 at 5:20 pm

Enjoyed your email today, thanks for the real talk. So refreshing!

lluis mencheta
February 24, 2016 at 1:39 pm

The last time I felt a 'pop' in my brain was when read the biography on Wikipedia of one of my top favourite therapy writers, John O. Stevens, and discovered he was the same person that Steve Andreas... another top favourite of mine. What a good taste I have!

Andy S.
February 15, 2016 at 8:18 pm

What actually surprises me in online marketing (or marketing in general) is genuine, authentic people providing value for a reasonable price. The hype is so thick and so constant that actually culling through the bullshit becomes a skill. So, when I find someone authentic it's quite refreshing.

Sciencing real, proven ways to market is a challenge, but the only real way to find methods that work.

Michael Green
January 8, 2016 at 2:11 am

Great article. Each product and service has unique selling points and require promotion through mediums to their demographic profile-Data Horticulture! It is all about conversion versus hype and the right mediums for communication. Great article,thank you!

January 8, 2016 at 12:07 am

I found out that you are in Austin! I am in Austin too working on a fitness startup. I sent the first email campaign in my life yesterday to a tiny list. I was super nervous when I was about to press the send button and kept refreshing the stats screen to see the numbers go up. Result is 30% open rate, out of which 25% either opened more than once, or clicked or subscribed to my list. Not a bad start. Can I buy you tacos in exchange for advice?

John K W
November 26, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Im suprised you are sellingb those king sumo shoes en masse nk

Charles Bradley
October 31, 2015 at 7:39 pm

Kudo's to everyone sharing here...(nothing is more important to me right now over gaining other people's perspective)
...Interesting topic; thought I'd chime in... To me, Twitter is perfect in terms of my social documentary...Reason being that I can get long winded at times and the 140 character limit solves that issue...Twitter to me is networking slash personal online diary... Facebook is more family check-in as well as page/group collaboration (I haven't even started the contest's yet)... ? If a company/person really wants to get at me on any serious business, they have to connect via #1)~Linked In~ ,2)Google hangouts, 3)my phone, or an 4) email that's not bulk messenger related...
I don't pit social media outlets against eachother...I look at each social media as a finger that when used together can grab the attention of industry leader's...and they like it, as long as we don't squeeze too hard... They can have ten thousand followers...I only want one follower...

"Creative Commons Corporation"
I advise any business that's thinking on a global level to donate as much as they can...

...I waited thirty-six years to open my first Facebook & Twitter...You can believe that I'm after far more than follower's...

LoL...this is why I tweet...

Love you guys...It's difficult to find engaging intellectual conversation...I like to re-read old topic lines mostly... Take care all...And keep it coming Noah...This doesn't happen w/out you...

October 22, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Solid post! It's always interesting to think about what's behind the numbers and what the numbers *actually* mean.

You asked the last time I was really surprised by something. Well, this one's marketing related. I was pretty blown away this morning to learn that AirBnB thought it was a good idea to run an ad campaign in SF that complained about the fact that their business had to pay back taxes. Whiny and weird. What's up with that? How did they think it was a good decision to publicly bemoan their success? Bizarre.

Story here via Ad Week:

Anyway, keep up the great work!

October 11, 2015 at 2:30 pm

I was super surprised today when my parents (my kids grandparents) showed no interest in my business that I pour my life into.

September 25, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Thanks for being so focus on results and less in marketing! Love your practical tips. Greetings from Argentina. Pablo.

annie smith
September 25, 2015 at 9:12 am

thanks so much for this post. we struggle with the likes and interaction on social media and I 'm glad to see we aren't the only ones!

L.L. Barkat
September 19, 2015 at 6:09 pm

I've been doing accidental research on a college campus (because I am currently transporting someone and waiting while they're in class). At first I felt like this all was just really going to take me away from my work. And, in a way, it has. It's taken me away from the way I generally work every day, and the way I often make business decisions by listening via social media. It's been a pleasant surprise to discover what is and isn't important to people by observing on campus. I watched two girls sit for a whole hour and chat endlessly about their dogs, while also scrolling through (and commenting to each other) about their Instagram feeds. I've met students who have terrifically terrible websites and are counting on Instagram to show their best to the world. I've heard a little chat about Twitter. I see a lot of people just happily talking to one another without gadgets at the center of it. My happiest surprise on that count was hearing one guy rave to another about the amazing poem "Ozymandias." Really? People talk to each other about poetry? This was heartening to me. I don't know yet what I'll do with all this new listening, but it's enough for now to be less tied to digital social media and more able to experience the surprises of actual social media (face to face conversations).

Júlio Augusto Lopes
September 19, 2015 at 7:19 am

Hey Noah,

Been reading you articles for quite some time now. Really like your direct approach to writing. (bullshite proof) 🙂

I've been itching to use it at my company to see the results, but I think an effective way to engange your opted in users in the near future will be browser push notifications. Do you have any results regarding this?

I've opted in in some and the effect on my browser is crazy. Biased or not the it is just that I can't not read the headline displayed. If it's good, I'm going to click it. This is particular effective because the message appears right where Gmail notifications appear also.

Take a look at the effect with these guys:

If you have any experience whit this please share!

September 10, 2015 at 12:53 pm

totally agree. one of our fan pages went viral and we got 140K organic fans. that gives us a bit of traffic - I admit. but first of all, it's like a flash in the pan - we post, we get some traffic. no post, no traffic.

SEO and content marketing are so much more stable and valueable. people who visit our website from google are 5x more likely to convert!

i've seen days we had over 12K people on our website from FB. We didn't make much money on any of these days - it just increased our bounce rate stats 🙂

September 8, 2015 at 9:56 pm

I was surprised about two things:
1. Blog post, huge traffic from Reddit and via addshare. Quite impressive reach for me, 1k unique visitors within one month.
2. Blog post: 3 times as much content, very high quality. Applied skyscraper technique, no Reddit, no addshare, so far, seems to reach the same amount of reach even though my line in the sand was to double it. No email sign ups

September 5, 2015 at 5:35 pm

This is pretty cool, I wonder what how social media like twitter should be treated. Does it work better as a tool to engage an audience, where the atmosphere can be more conversational than an email list.

August 23, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Thanks for posting. I can't recall a surprised moment right now, but I'm glad to see a post about this. As a subscriber to many eNewsletters, I'm becoming more and more aware of the use and effectiveness of email marketing. Here's an article with an infographic about how social media and email marketing go hand-in-hand: It supports the point you made about using social media to gain email subscribers. With the presidential campaign season underway, it could be interesting to see how both are used.

Giovanni Cremonezi Gonçalves Ribeiro
August 20, 2015 at 5:41 pm

I like your content. Keep it up. - From Brazil.

Ali Shadle
July 2, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Thanks, Noah. Awesome advice. Stoked to apply this to my business.

Sarah Montgomery
June 19, 2015 at 4:19 am

i'm continually surprised at how afraid we can be of failure (business or otherwise)!! it keeps us from seeing I presented to my company's CEO a link "earning" strategy for our site. he threw it out as link "building" crap and said it would hurt our site and waste money. he was very reactive to what I had to say and the smell of fear was palpable. despite sharing two articles from authority in SEO...didn't matter. reminds me we cling to our belief's unless we're brave enough not to

June 18, 2015 at 5:57 pm

I'm consistently able to get a over 50% conversion rate doing facebook advertising using dark posts and sending a highly targeted audience direct from facebook to my clients product website. Even email isn't the holy grail 🙂 But I agree email is totally more effective than twitter...but I'd argue that facebook can be even more effective then email marketing even given the right target audience, the right message, spoken in the right language and coupled with the right image. I do love your stuff though No-ahs-at-all. lol Keep em coming...

Nick Miller
June 8, 2015 at 5:39 am

Noah, I only use social media to build relationships. Have you tested this lately now that your followers have grown?

Justin Rhodes
May 30, 2015 at 9:52 pm

I was surprised about how few backers came from Facebook during my successful Kickstarter campaign.

Even when others with half a million FB fans mentioned my project, it made very little difference.

The key was other influencers sending our campaign out through their email lists.

Dan Phibbs
May 26, 2015 at 11:02 am

Winston Churchill said "truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." However, the net is "a fog of lies clouding over real truth!" Noah and his emails are the exception.

May 23, 2015 at 7:26 pm

Great article. I think this is the first practical study I have read about using Twitter as promotion. I would have never guessed you would have a CTR less than 1%. No wonder so many gurus sell expensive courses to help us market our sites. Thank you for the perspective.

Christina Grab
May 22, 2015 at 3:41 am

IMO: The response you get might depend on the content.
As your tweet was obviously referring to quite private content without real news, I would think the response rate with offering information on business issues would have been higher.
But yes, for sure, the response rate on your email subscribers is always higher, as they are generally interessted in you.
The question, which is going through my head is: Is social media nevertheless quite nescessary, because it really helps to spread the word? Or in other words: What do you think: Where do your emailsubcribers come from?
Thank you for all the thought food!

Greg Schraff
May 15, 2015 at 7:35 am

Anecdotally I experience the same lack of click-through on Twitter. I would be interested to see you run this experiment on Facebook.

Lauren Mescon
March 31, 2015 at 8:52 am

Like your emails. Think you are onto something. Tried to go through to share at this link: "Tell a friend, your Twitter followers or your Facebook network about this newsletter. (They can join at" but you were having difficulties. Just thought you should know. Thanks!

Nidhi Shah
March 27, 2015 at 12:29 am

Hi Noah, thanks a lot for sharing this experience. Nothing can substitute effective email marketing and your newsletter is a good example for that. I just read your email in one go without skipping a single line. I choose my newsletter subscriptions very specifically and spend around an hour just reading through my mails. But yes, social media is too much to filter, very often we miss the most relevant information.

March 8, 2015 at 5:57 am

Nice case-study

Kevin Hurley
March 5, 2015 at 5:27 pm

HUNDY P! I totally agree...I've done social media roles before and I've done growth roles where I have complete control over my lead generation initiatives and EMAIL IS KING - no matter what.

Social can assist in driving traffic and gaining recognition but when it comes to real-results and real conversions, email is where it's at.

Happy to see this post!

February 26, 2015 at 11:27 pm

Twitter had a 1% return -- about what I would expect for just throwing something out there, 1% is actually high. BUt 25% among subscribers is also believable since you have already sold them on responding. If you had had +50% on responders that would be hard to believe; 0.01% from Twitter would guarantee writing off Twitter.

Larry Levenson
February 26, 2015 at 10:49 pm

Noah, I completely agree. There is a lot os "social media hype", but testing is needed to see what works for your company.

I ran a test last year where I tweeted 20x per day for 30 days. I shared others' content, pushed a little on our own, pushed an occasional offer. My results? Added over 700 followers, pissed of one of my friends, a lot more visits to our website and only 0.02% conversion on our site. Normally we run around 4% without breaking a sweat. To me, Twitter is fascinating -- the whole world at my fingertips. But for our marketing agency business? Not useful. I'll jump on the email marketing bandwagon any day 🙂

February 22, 2015 at 11:39 am

Yes, I am surprised at how USEFUL Noah's emails from are. I am setting up a new business and he is pointing me in the right direction in many ways. THANKS Noah!

Norma Haygood
February 19, 2015 at 8:28 pm

THANK YOU! Thank you for clarifying this mystery for me! Seriously, I couldn't understand how my Kickstarter campaign within the first 24 hours garnered 105 views=10 pledges by using FB friends only ......and then 11 views out of 22,000 impressions via FB advertising or equally dismal conversion rates with Twitter and Google Adsense respectively. Bottom line: I'm gonna have to suck it up and borrow the 16k I needed to fill my Walmart PO..... 'cuz Kickstarters first 24 hour success did NOT replicate by using the other social media COT's.

February 15, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Panera Bread had this e-mail advertisement that was a game, you clicked on these characters and it told a story how Panera was antibiotic free and blah blah blah. Normally I wouldn't have spent so much time on something like that but I liked the animation and the way everything was drawn. Oh and they promised me something free after I was done playing this game. I don't even know if I got it or not.

February 13, 2015 at 7:47 am

Social media are oversaturated with information, so it's pretty difficult to reach all followers you have. Email became the only relevant way to reach as more your readers as possible.

Jess Owen
February 12, 2015 at 7:29 pm

Hi Noah,

The last time I was really surprised was today.

My son has food allergies, dairy, peanut, kiwi, macadamia, mustard, etc... For the last 13 years we have kept him from touching peanut residue because it could mean death. A couple of weeks ago we had a new blood test done and determined that he was a candidate fro a touch challange. Today I watched a nurse spread peanut butter on my son and he didn't show any signs of reaction! MIND BLOWN! His world changed today.

February 12, 2015 at 6:05 pm

If you hadn't copied the entire post into the e-mail, the CTR would have been something close to 100%. 😉

Patrick Colvin
February 9, 2015 at 1:58 pm

This right here is the last time I was surprised! I expected the click rate to be higher on twitter, I was wrong.

February 8, 2015 at 9:49 am

Great article, Noah! I was surprised to hear we have similar experiences on Twitter; I thought it was just me! This is really helpful to know.

Roy Johnson
February 6, 2015 at 8:15 pm

Hey Noah. I don't know. I just like reading your emails. It's nice to get automated emails that are not garbage. Thank you!

Woody Nash
February 5, 2015 at 10:51 pm

We were surprised to find that affiliates were benefiting from our TV advertising by running PPC campaigns that enabled them to earn commissions on traffic we paid to generate.

February 4, 2015 at 7:57 am

This is a great post, thank you. I've been wondering if email subscribers is the way to go, you've convinced me, and your plugin looks fantastic! I'm going to grab it right away. Thanks!

January 30, 2015 at 4:19 am

I still love email and this just proves that it still is that personal touch when you receive an email in your inbox. Great post and share Noah. Keep up your awesomeness 😉

Ray Burton
January 25, 2015 at 6:11 am

I've been surprised by the lack of engagement on twitter as well. Every now and then, my facebook fan page gets good unpaid results in sending traffic but mostly, it's become a pay to play game

Val Geisler
January 24, 2015 at 6:55 pm

Totally get this. Just this past week I wrote a blog post and was like "Meh. Not a fan of it but I'm hitting publish anyways." And then it was one of my most popular posts to date. Crazy how that happens!

January 2, 2015 at 2:32 am

I have learned a lot from you Noah, you are one cool cat.

Rick Siderfin
January 1, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Despite all the worry about spam, people actually DO want to hear from you. All the time. I send out 5 emails a week, sometimes more, and get great feedback. Thanks Noah for helping me build my list so fast!

Jordan mcpeek
December 25, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Been following you for a while, interesting stuff from an even more interesting person. Keep the good content coming Noah

christina cranley
November 30, 2014 at 8:51 am

I'm a big believer in social media, but a bigger believer in email, and that's due almost entirely to what I've learned from your emails and blog posts. I came across a Slideshare yesterday about Growth Hacking that was really awesome and actionable. Guess who was featured: Noah Kagen and Appsumo. Nice. I tweeted it out and it has more RTs, Favs, Clicks than any other post in recent months.

November 20, 2014 at 10:49 pm

Thanks. I don't feel like such a loser when people ask me for my twitter handle.

November 20, 2014 at 6:06 pm

So through some other digital marketing blog, I bought into some hype- they are pushing guest blog hosting on your blog as the ultimate way to generate tons of traffic. I would be intrigued to get your opinion or read a post of yours regarding the virtues and or process of becoming the host for guest posts.
also love your blog-, its my "go to" for all digital marketing

Sara Reyes
November 20, 2014 at 5:30 pm

I'm always surprised when authors (my business) send all their traffic to Facebook and then are shocked that don't have as many sales as from their own emails...or our emails *grin*

Nurturing an email list is still the best way to interact with your customers.

Lydia Sugarman
November 8, 2014 at 7:33 pm

My first thought regarding your Tweet was the day and time you sent it - Friday at 12:10 PT, lunchtime in San Francisco and close enough to the weekend that Eastern time zone peeps are focused on the weekend already. And, it may be a fairly small subset, but there are those who've already headed home to beat sundown on March 15th. Might've tried different copy, too, e.g. Get exclusive behind-the-scenes look... Still...numbers don't lie.

The wonderful, irrefutable truth of an email broadcast is that it goes out to people who've told you they want to read what you have to say. And, the email goes right into their inbox. You're not depending on serendipity or the whims of a third party showing your post at exactly the right moment to people interested in you.

We've run some interesting experiments with posting a simultaneous direct link via social media to the emails we broadcast. Many times, more people open via social media links than the email subscribers. Interesting, huh?

That's my $.02.

Bob Crawford
November 8, 2014 at 7:08 am

Like many people I used to think social media was the end all to my marketing problems, but I was surprised to learn that although social sites are a great way to CONNECT with new people, you really have to get them back to your site and entice them onto your list. That's where you have control and can then share more about who you are and the solutions you offer.

Jewell Starsinger
November 6, 2014 at 6:35 pm

When you said that no cookie cutter answer will work, I lifted my head from the pillow with powerful anticipation! I can quote many formulas and recipes for many projects over many years of experience; all equally boring. Thanks for waking me up!

Karin Hempel
November 6, 2014 at 5:43 pm

The most recent time I was amazed was when my visiting sister had to fly back to Denmark. She has a bad leg so has challenges walking. She had a fairly large suitcase and a smaller carryon. We took her to the United counter in Denver to get her on the place. What amazed me was the customer service. The woman who take care of her made sure she was going to be comfortable getting to the gate and on top of that, she offered to fly her small carryon bag in regular luggage for NO FEE! Unbelievable! I was truly stunned and incredibly grateful to the woman. I was grateful for her kindness, for her attention to my sister who was quite nervous about flying, and for her willingness to do something great. It's not a marketing story (yet could be) but was an amazing surprise as airline customer service isn't exactly in the top 10 (in my book) of fantastic customer service examples.

James George
November 6, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Ok, I was surprised by the giveaway for my site for a print copy of my book. See, I saw that I only have around 40 entries (Using Promosimple) but when I looks at shares for my post promoting the giveaway, it had 197 Facebook shares. That's great! But, why would they share it instead of entering the contest via the email gateway? I was surprised to see so many Facebook shares. I have never received that many on any post on that site before.

November 6, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Awesome read. Just reminds us to quantify every aspect of business. Here's what I found fascinating reading Thinking Fast and Slow. The effects of anchoring. Differnces between 10% off, limited quantities, no limit per person. Which campaign did the best?

October 28, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Today because two of my friends send me CDs with harp music, one classical and the other celtic. It felt like having birthday 🙂
For marketing, I start loathing email marketing and have unsubscribed from plenty of lists. Maybe it is do to my resolution to have a silent and calm autumn/winter time. Seems like that does mean silence in my inbox too.

donnie cooper
October 22, 2014 at 9:02 pm

last time i was surprised was when i ran non stop for 3 miles a couple weeks ago. just 2 months prior i was complaining how i couldn't run 1/4 mile non stop!

Tyler V
October 24, 2014 at 8:42 am

Nice Donnie!

October 7, 2014 at 3:32 pm

It's not really comparing like to like though is it?

140 characters in a Tweet compared to a highly effective email written to a list.

Also of your 13,000 followers I suspect that if you only tweeted it once which is what you implied not that many would actually have seen it.

The other thing about Twitter is that if it get's engagement and retweeted you are reaching a brand new audience that you would never have received at all.

It strikes me that the time spent to schedule a couple of tweets is time extremely well spent. 109 clicks depending on whether they converted at all or not is not really that bad a return on a bit of content repurposing.

October 2, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Its amazing how email marketing outperform social media marketing in terms of conversion.

Lydia Sugarman
November 8, 2014 at 7:38 pm

@Shamsul, why would you be amazed at the great results from email? The email is going to people who have specifically requested to be updated and those emails are going right into their inboxes where they demand some level of attention.

Mridu Khullar Relph
September 26, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Oh boy. I'm active in the journalism/authorship community and I can't tell you how many times authors are told to market their books on Twitter. Not only is it highly annoying, but it's a complete waste of resources. Most of these authors think they're doing something wrong or that their books suck and give up completely, when the truth is that they're actually just using an insanely ineffective medium for promotion. Thanks for pointing it out!

Paul Burt
September 25, 2014 at 6:10 pm

In the land of authors and book promotion, I would guess book sales average about one copy per few hours invested in social-turned-promotional media. Authors making more than $1 an hour are doing well. So many options, so little return, such a waste of time. Bring on the commerce media!

Christen da Costa
September 11, 2014 at 6:38 pm

This is good to hear, despite the fact that my email following is terrible. Something I'm confident we can grow, though, with the right approach. That said, Tim Ferris said the same thing, albeit differently, in his second (or 3rd) last podcast.

Facebook is a blackhole, unless you pay. And even then people aren't clicking on much there - too much noise. Twitter is just that, noise. Unless you have a billion followers, your message disappears into the Ether. Google+ is interesting, but a complete F*ck up by Google. YouTube has super engaged folks, but getting them to subscribe is like pulling teeth (no one wants to do it until they feel they have to).

Rant out.

September 5, 2014 at 1:31 am

Great article, Noah. Very insightful.

September 4, 2014 at 5:55 pm

I'm 100% with you on this one. Great post dude. Muchos tacos.

Dan Linstroth
September 3, 2014 at 8:05 pm

I am constantly surprised at how difficult it is to stay focused. My bike, the fridge, music, a random youtube video, Outside Magazine. They all always kill my concentration, yet it still surprises me.

September 1, 2014 at 7:51 pm

So how do you propose using the traffic of social to get more email? (One way was answered when a beautiful sumo app popped up)

Joe Putnam
August 31, 2014 at 4:22 pm

I'm also not a big social media fan and have found very similar results. Example: I ran a campaign where we messaged 135,000 FB fans about a new offer and emailed 10,000. The result? FB generated 100 or so orders while email generated 2500. I'm not even a math guy and I can tell you those results are way better for email than FB. The problem is that most people don't pay attention to these kinds of numbers and here all kinds of hype around the web from people that aren't actually running campaigns and getting results.

With that said, I've gotten good results from Facebook newstream ads that outperformed Google ads quite significantly. I'm not anti social media marketing, but I am anti spewing marketing advice (you've got to be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ or your business will die!!!!!) that's not based on results.

August 31, 2014 at 5:21 am

I agree. I buy products from email campaigns. And get many leads via social media - more than all my +10 websites. Thanks Noah!

Jay Tova
August 22, 2014 at 12:15 am

My son just turned 5 & remembered that we ate apples & honey for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) the year before. That's the 1st time he remembered something that far back. Best surprise ever!

Paul Buijs
August 21, 2014 at 10:16 pm

I spent $12000 and over two years to get my facebook "fan base" to 74000 likes. In less than three weeks I doubled that amount for free. Never paying for facebook advertising again. Noah is right. Email is where it is at. Thank you SumoMe for the cool apps!

Here's my Facebook secret:
How to blow your Facebook marketing budget on a wild night in Vegas and still have better results...

Chad Rucker
August 21, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Love your insight and support. Two marketing surprises:

1. The Newcastle account (Droga5) continues to own Twitter. It's fresh, smart and disarming. The "disarming" part is unique in the industry. They let the consumer know that they get how intrusive advertising really is. It's refreshing and smart.
2. Google recently targeted me with a Hep C campaign. I don't have Hep C. Which proves that Google has a ways to go. Contrary to popular opinion, they ain't perfect.

Keep up the great work,


August 21, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Thanks for the food for thought 🙂

Adam Connell
August 21, 2014 at 5:22 pm

A while back I published a blog post where I told people to sack off the social media widgets. They're pointless and they need to build their list instead.

To my amazement, some people didn't "get it".

"social media consultants" mostly didn't like the idea. I guess that's to be expected but people need to get a grip.

You can still be a social media consultant and not have a lame Twitter widget in your sidebar.

In terms of the channels that generate the best results for me, email is top dog. Sure it's harder to get people to subscribe in some cases but that just means we gotta get creative.

Find what gets results and do more of it.

August 15, 2014 at 4:37 am

Noah - I love a contrarian, I love the numbers, a great post.
I continue to tweet -mostly blog links - as it's low effort: after a couple of years I've had an occasional re-tweet that's got me new contacts in a suprising way, but there's still a 'lottery' feel to it for me.

August 15, 2014 at 12:58 am

I don't claim to be a social media expert, but I've found one of the biggest keys is to be hashtagging right and using pictures.

Try using #howto and #business and see what results you get.

August 14, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Funny, I remember seeing your post on twitter, and I thought it was a scam or that your account was hacked. I scrolled right on past it.

Matt Cumming
August 14, 2014 at 10:43 pm

Noah! Great post and reminder about making list-building a primary goal — but building a list of quality, engaged followers and to keep giving them value, not just building a list of random people who signed up for one thing but then switched off because your emails were full of sh*t — bad sh*t. I love your sh*t, but it's great sh*t! Keep it coming man.

Ian Robinson
August 14, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Twitter and e-mail comparisons are apples and oranges though, right? I mean, we have to expect that almost all tweets go no where unless you directly engage with someone or a specific topic (via @tags or #tags.)

E-mail is a different beast. It's not crazy to expect a response to an e-mail. When tweeting to others, you'd be silly to expect a response. E-mail a much more controlled, thoughtful space. Twitter is noise making like speaking loudly to a crowd and another.

Great post Noah. It's quality the way you do simple tests that describe things so clearly with data.

With appreciation,

Caren Glasser
August 14, 2014 at 6:07 pm

This is great information. Thank you for sharing. I have said for a while that there is no one thing that will work for marketing in all businesses. I believe social media has it's place as an additional way to create relationships with your network. But for most it's a lot of noise. Thanks for the reminder!

Carsten Ulendorf
August 8, 2014 at 9:23 am

Hi Noah,
The net is so Big and the opporunities so many, that most of us tend to listen to the 'Big guys' in the business. And that's a good way to start. After a while however, the posts of others should be reduced to mere inspiration, and you should begin to set up a frame for your own business.
Not all the Big guys are gurus, and only few businesses are the same.

August 7, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Noah, love reading the ideas you share, thank you!!!

Bob Tobin
August 2, 2014 at 5:55 pm

You said it perfectly. Email is what matters. I do twitter, but I'm ready to let it go. Thanks so much for this post.

Keith James
August 1, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Hi Noah,

I can't (and won't) disagree that email has by far greater visibility than social. What if you posted a similar tweet (or recycled the same one) numerous times on Twitter?

What is great about Twitter is that you can continue to use the same offer repeatedly. If you post 10 times a day and include the same tweet once every 20 posts, you will see much different results.

Your 14k potential is just that, potential. How many really saw your tweet? No one really knows. Of course when you email your list you get fantastic stats. You know bounce, open rate, when it was opened etc. You don't know this with social.

Social is used for growing your list. It's a great way to gain exposure and send traffic to your site. It is the very top of your sales/marketing funnel. By the time someone is on your list, they are usually at least a third of the way through your funnel.

Either way, your blog is one of my favorite resources. Even posts that are over a year old are valuable.

July 26, 2014 at 1:34 am

I totaly agree with you Noah! More often than not; we blindly follow what we hear;without EVER testing it.You are spot on bro.

July 21, 2014 at 5:51 pm

You know why I love your newsletter? Because you back-up EVERYTHING with real numbers. You don't just SAY, "oh it's this and it's that." You actually test it and then you let me in on the big secret! Thanks for that 🙂

Louis Pionessa
July 19, 2014 at 12:13 pm

You bring up a lot of good points, and I've been thinking about this for a while. Twitter, for the most part seems like everyone SHOUTING at each other. But if you're the one person not doing that - you will be successful, because you're "different".

Here's how you can be different:

On Twitter especially, it's not about getting people to click on links that you tweet. That's usually only a small percentage of traffic.

The majority comes when you interact and reply to people with helpful or funny things. You don't tweet a link and hope for high CTR. I think of it more like a really tiny email to one person, that everyone can read.

Just try to get people to interact with you. Then if they're interested in what you have to say.... they become curious. Hmmmm... Which means they click the link to your PROFILE and READ YOUR BIO.

If they read some more stuff and like it - what's the next obvious step? Clicking on the website link in your Twitter bio. Then they see your website and.... if you're good at what you do - the rest should be a piece of cake.

It's the same on any social networking site. The goal (for me) is not to get people to click links and buy stuff from me. The goal is to get them to like me by helping them out. Then they get curious and.... go to my website.

Works every time! Maybe.... It's human nature. I think...

Let me know if you disagree - and keep up the amazing posts, Noah! You definitely inspire me to keep at it.


July 18, 2014 at 3:59 am

Hi Noah,
Had the same insight on some of the accounts I'm managing... Strange (and deceiving!).
Wondering what tool you use for your twitter tracking and stats ?

Neal Taparia
June 22, 2014 at 6:01 am

One of our properties gets more than 40 million unique visitors a year. When we introduced a Facebook like button, likes increased at a significant rate, probably to the tune of 70,000 - 10,000 a year. Over the last year, however, we've only received 20,000 more likes despite the larger traffic to our site. Additionally, we've noticed that we were getting less engagement with our posts.

Just as we've developed banner blindness to standard ad units, I think the same is happening to likes. We've also deemphasized our like button because of the declining engagement we were seeing on Facebook. Facebook needs to answer to shareholders (yea!), so we're more likely to see more and more sponsored posts.

An engaged email base in the way to go!

Rex Ellacott
June 13, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Interesting story and one that I am telling our clients all the time, different strokes for different folks. Last May we drove a campaign whereby we trained women in Kickboxing, for an event towards charity. Each video got over 800 likes in average, 120,000 people engaged, and roughly 10,000 downloads via youtube, with a sell out to 900 capacity. Biut what works in one part of a city wont work in another. Now in another part, totally the opposite. 🙂

June 8, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Noah, I am surprised right now. See, I am listening to you on Pat Flynn'S Podcast while doing some research on business ideas I got just by listeing to it. You really get me going with the stuff you put out. Just wish my learning ability wasn't that slow.

Normally I should be depressed right now. I just found out that I will go bankrupt and have about 500k in debt to dig out of. And by depressed I am a real depression with which I dealt the last 2 years. So I am surprised again that I seem to be going though I don't have any money to spend if actually hit a valid business idea.

And then I think I will go back to your archive and dig deep until I find the answer.

Thanks for putting out so much value for free. I surely would be in the monthly1k if only I could afford it. And yes, I cannot spent 60 bucks of extra expenses right now.

Greetings from Germany,

Perry Paolini
May 23, 2014 at 3:26 pm

I'd like to think that I'm a fairly logical person, someone who isn't easily tricked into marketing plans, etc... I hired a marketing firm to runs our google Adwords efforts. I was told I could expect roughly 40 calls per month from spending $1000. I got 7 calls, and swiftly requested my money back. I was fortunate enough to get the money back and attempted AdWords on my own, and was surprised by how little our returns were. We still ended up with a positive ROI, but for us and our industry it seems like AdWords doesn't like up to it's hype.

I just read your retargeting article and I'm looking forward to trying it out!!

Thanks for all the great info Noah. Can't thank you enough.

Jamie Lake
May 16, 2014 at 4:33 pm

I agree. I get better results with email but social media is a great way to find your audience, break the ice and initiate the relationship. At least for my readers. If I were approaching a younger audience after breaking the ice, maybe forums or text messages might be great. I can't remember the last time I was shocked by social media but I love Appsumo, Seth Godin & Gary Vaynerchuk.

May 11, 2014 at 11:00 am

I was going to post that I am surprised when I read an article on the internet and there isn't a tweet this or FB this button on it these days. Then I realised that I don't have a 'Tweet this' button on my own website! Doh!!

Zak King
August 19, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Try the sumoMe App for that

May 10, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Well, I'm not surprised about Twitter. I get bogged down reading all those fucking tweets. I can't keep up.

Gail Gates
May 5, 2014 at 5:31 pm

The last time I was pleasantly surprised? When the host of a B & B found out I was unhappy about a meal (My issue not theirs), she called me, profusely apologized, and said the next time we visit (Nice, positive assumption, right?) she'd give us a bottle of her special stash wine. You can't get much better customer service than that, and I was profoundly happy. Surprised. Happy.

May 5, 2014 at 10:43 am

I do some t-shirt design and selling online. I am constantly surprised at other people's taste in tees - the designs I think are really nice and should sell, tend not to. The ones I thin are horrid, ugly waste of space seem to sell. I have now resigned and now started designing shirts that I would not wear. Ever.

March 30, 2014 at 5:16 pm

I'd just like to say that I can undestand your argument regarding twitter/social and email but there are a few things I'd like to point out:

1. People that are signed up to recieve your Newsletter already have an element of trust and expect to see your regular email so are more likely to be engaged in the content and click thorugh.

2. You have a lot more room in an email to make a compelling argument about a product or service than you do in one tweet.

I would say that social media is one component of a marketing mix, but completely agree that email and other digital media can be equally or more effective, and that it is different for every business. I just don't think it's fair to compare one tweet to an email - you should be tweeting, posting on Facebook, etc multiple times a day, whereas your emails are likely to be much less regular.

Anyway just food for thought 🙂

I'd be interested to see the email you sent to compare to your tweet.

March 30, 2014 at 1:40 pm

I was surprised by the results when I tried the methode you explained at the interview with Tim Ferriss for CreativeLive. I pitched an smoothie ebook with 99 recipes to 96 Facebook friends and had a conversion rate from almost 8% in pre-orders!! Thanks so much for showing us 'the way' Noah! 🙂

I punlished to full case stuy in Dutch on my blog:

Gr Pim

March 30, 2014 at 2:27 am

Thanks for sharing candidly as always!
With my previous startup, in fashion, we were similarly pleasantly surprised with email marketing landing us an average of over 35% open rate and 40% CTR, while Facebook was preforming much much worse. Now I'm setting up a newsletter for daPulse in hope of repeating these stats.

March 22, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Hi Noah! I follow you on Twitter but didn't click because I already bought the course. Also, I tweeted you about the course and would love an answer to the question I asked. P.S. The validation exercises have made a huge difference, so thank you!

Paulo Roldan
March 10, 2014 at 12:02 am

Today I purchased tickets to see Peabody and Sherman with my 6 year-old son at one of the many local movie theaters. The preparedness, mental agility and seamless service of the theater's employee made me feel really comfortable and wanting to comeback more often.

That's the las time something really surprised me.

I am NOT a marketing pro and my comment may be a bit odd compared to what everybody else may post, but you asked and I felt like sharing my experience.

George Lindner
February 22, 2014 at 9:00 am

It would be interesting to know the overlap in people in your mail list and email list. And the conversion rate of those not in your email list that clicks the twitter link.
Just saying that I see your email before your twitter msg most times and click the email link and skip the twitter one because I already know what it's about.
Interesting read though. Great food for thought!

August 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Hi Noah, thank you for sharing your experience about how ineffective social media is.

In the book "Your first 1000 copies" the author shares what happened with one of his author clients: for every one book they were selling through social media, they were selling over 10 through e-mail.

For most stuff e-mail rules. However, social media is good for quick preliminary market research.

Say you have a new product idea. You want to research your options a little more. You ask a question on Facebook and people start getting back to you, immediately. A couple of hours later and you already have a better sense about what your market needs.

August 12, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Email means they see the message at their convenience (ie when they decide theyll take the time to check their inbox). That can't be said about any social network.

Susan Jones
April 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Noah, I had a similar experience last week. I was testing an idea for an online course.

From my (admittedly small) subscriber list of 300 people I had lots of clicks and 4 purchases of a $97 product. From my 12,000+ followers on Twitter I had probably more clicks overall but no purchases.

The big surprise though was FB ads. I had around 500 people click on the ad and come through to my site but no purchases at all. Now my marketing might have been really sucky (although it obviously worked for my subscribers) but the FB result made me really wonder about their ads. Especially when in the first day the vast majority of visitors were from Pakistan which is not an audience I usually reach.

So my takeaways were:
1. Above all else, GROW YOUR LIST. Email marketing trumps every time.
2. Use Twitter to engage people and help them - and to try to get them to sign up to your newsletter! I use it to rebroadcast my older posts and about 40% of the traffic to my site comes from Twitter.
3. Facebook is a waste of time and money for me and I don't like not really knowing what they are doing with my ads.

BTW, if you compare your CTR from Twitter and Email in your example Noah, email actually gave you a result better then 24x Twitter! Go with email I say!

Greg Watson
April 12, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Not sure if my thought qualifies as amazing, but I have wondered the same thing. IE which, if any of the social media platforms, makes the most sense to participate in, if any. (depending upon your business)

And as you pointed out on the call the other day, (good fun BTW) "Begin with the end in mind". What is my goal with the platform?

To get a bunch of followers, move some product or connect with friends?

Thanks for the reminder Noah! Cheers, G