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Joe Pulizzi urges us, “Don’t build your content house on rented land.”

Joe is founder of Content Marketing Institute and The Tilt.

Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn are all rented land. They set the rules and can change them at any time.

They can disable your account without telling you why.

Joe says to use those platforms to build and connect with an audience, but to convert that audience to owned land, such as an email list.

I agree with Joe’s advice.

But I’ve also been thinking about owned land recently.

Do we really own anything?

To me, ownership means:

  • You can do what you want with what you own (for the most part)
  • There are no gatekeepers sitting between you and what you own
  • You control your own destiny with the owned item

Building an opt-in email list is owned land because you set the rules on how often and what content to send to your subscribers.

But there’s a gatekeeper.

You need an email service provider (ESP) to manage your list and send your emails.

Let’s say you use Mailchimp.

Mailchimp suspended numerous crypto-related newsletters this year with no notice.

The company stated in an email:

"We cannot allow businesses involved in the sale, transaction, trading, exchange, storage, marketing, or production of cryptocurrencies, virtual currencies and any digital assets."

Around the Corner

But wait, you say. My friend is a software developer and she can build me an ESP.

OK, fine.

There are still gatekeepers you’ll depend on.

They include Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and perhaps cloud providers, like AWS, Azure and Google Cloud.

They have the right to refuse your business or disable the services they provide you.

So even if you own your email list, do you really own it? Do you fully control your own destiny?

But wait! There’s more.

Let’s talk about the receiving end.

If an email service provider is responsible for sending emails, I’ll call the receiving end "email inbox providers."

Think Gmail and Office365.

In the early days of email, things were simple.

You send an email, it’s received by the inbox provider and the recipient reads it.

And then our inboxes got filled with spam and scams.

Inbox providers responded by developing spam filters.

Those filters employ sophisticated algorithms powered by artificial intelligence (AI).

It’s harder than ever for your email to actually arrive in your subscriber’s inbox.

If your sender reputation is low, your emails might go directly to a spam folder.

If a subscriber marked a past email as spam (even if they did it by accident), your emails might never see them again.

If a subscriber marked someone else’s email as spam – but your email has similarities to it – you might be penalized.

And you didn’t even do anything wrong!

If Google thinks your email is selling something, then Gmail might place your email in the “Promotions” (vs. “Primary”) tab.

That makes it less likely to be seen.

(In addition to serving consumers, Gmail is the email component of Google Workspace, which a lot of businesses use for their corporate email).

The punchline
An email list gives you advantages over social media followers. But keep in mind:
  • There are gatekeepers everywhere
  • You’ll need to play by their rules or find other gatekeepers
  • Getting your content to be seen in a social media feed (e.g., Facebook newsfeed) can be as challenging as getting your email delivered into a primary inbox
It’s tough sledding out there.

Next Meetup
Why Video Messages Aren’t About Video

Video email and video messages create human connection across the digital divide - and across the customer lifecycle.

But too many teams are either sitting on the sidelines or treating it as an attention-getting gimmick.

Join Ethan Beute, Chief Evangelist at BombBomb, to learn ways to add meaningful personalization and accelerate revenue with video.

January 12, 2023, 12pm to 1pm PT


Note: Thanks to our sponsors, HushlyToTheWeb and Treasure Data.
Twitter Corner
In each newsletter, I recommend a Twitter user to follow.
This week, I recommend Kate Bradley Chernis (@LatelyAIKately).

Kate is Co-Founder and CEO at Lately:

"Lately’s AI learns which words will get you the most engagement and turns video, audio and text into dozens of social posts that contain those words."

Here's a photo from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

Kate is directly to my left.
Advice Corner
What ONE piece of marketing or PR advice would you offer to brands as we head into the new year?

Michelle Garrett (@PRisUs) asked 20+ experts to weigh in.

Read the post, "23 Experts Share Top Marketing and PR Advice for 2023." (I was honored to contribute).

Hope the end of the year is treating you well.

Let me know if you'd like to chat about anything -- catching up, talking about marketing, talking about the future of Twitter, etc.

See you in two weeks!
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