The short answer: No.
The effort and expertise required for conversion rate and landing page optimization to convert paid traffic into an email list, and then generate a return-on-investment, is out of reach for 99% of food bloggers.
Acquiring Email Signups
If you pay $1 CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) for Facebook traffic and convert 1% to email subscribers, you’re looking at 10 subscribers per $1.00, or $0.10/each.
I actually have no idea what Facebook ad rates are currently but I expect they’re much higher – likely closer to $5 CPM.
You then have to generate enough pageviews from those subscribers to cover your cost of acquisition.
Most food bloggers on Mediavine will end up around $30 RPM, which means each pageview is worth $0.03. Sounds good right? 4 pageviews and the subscriber pays for themself?
Email Click Through Rates
But in the real world, you have to factor click-through-rates from the email list, and unsubscribes. A normal CTR (click-through-rate) per email might be 10% with 1% unsubscribe rate.
That means you have to send about 40 emails (x 10% CTR) to generate those 4 clicks per subscriber, which is actually closer to 45 emails because some of them are unsubscribing.
Let’s not forget that mailing programs like MailChimp cost money. There are free tiers, but those fill up quickly and you should go into email marketing being willing to pay about $50/month, which will get you around 5000 subscribers. That means each subscriber is costing you about $0.01 per month ($50.00 / 5000).
Now let’s factor in the time you have to invest in learning email marketing – best times to send, how to write copy, time spent practicing copywriting, list segmenting, analytics to see which emails perform best for your list, etc.
It’s easy to spend 200+ hours reading and learning the basics. Close to 500 hours to become average. Years to become good at it.
That’s all time you’re not spending doing actual content creation.
Should I Build Email Lists?
All of this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t collect emails – you should. It’s a great way to build long-term traffic.
But it only makes sense for mega-blogs with in-house expertise to pay to acquire email subscribers. It’s much better to grow it naturally.
Our recommendation is to disregard email marketing best practices until it’s become an obvious weak point. The no-pain-no-brain way to do this is to simply send out emails when you publish a new recipe, with a tiny excerpt of the recipe and a “CLICK HERE FOR FULL RECIPE” to get those clicks into your website. Disregard analytics, disregard best sending times, disregard anything that makes you take longer than 5 minutes to send that email.
Food bloggers are chronically short on time, and focusing your effort on writing quality content taking mouth-watering pictures is almost always the better way to spend that time.
You’ll notice there’s a lot of numbers and percentage at play when figuring out your potential CPA (cost-per-acquisition) and ROI (return-on-investment) and LTV (life-time-value). All of this numbers can be improved and optimized on over time.
While you’ll start with terrible numbers, you can improve this over time and one day turn into an average-skilled email marketer. It will require hundreds of hours of investment in your education, but that’s a normal price to pay over years and year.
The problem is that you, as an individual blogger, no matter how successful, will never compete with the allrecipes.com and tasty.co of the world. These companies can afford teams of people who SPECIALIZE in email marketing. They will always have lower CPAs and higher LTVs, which means they cansignificantly outspend you on paid advertising.