Email Marketing in the Days of Social Media

email marketing and social media have unique benefits

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Comparing Email Marketing and Social Media

Can email marketing and social media be compared to each other?

Marketers have a lot to think about when investing in marketing channels. Email marketing and social media compete for first place. It can make decsion makiing difficult.

A study by Mckinsey & Co. found email marketing more effective than social media for getting new customers.

The reasons behind this finding are more complicated than they first appear.

Despite ongoing changes to email marketing platforms, such as Gmail’s promotional tab views for example, and upcoming GDPR regulations, email is still a hugely popular medium for gathering new business.

There is a simple reason for this; email is still one of the leading marketing channels that can be used for customer acquisition and retention.

The McKinsey and Company Study

According to the study email generates up to 40 times as many new customers compared to Facebook and Twitter combined.  When considering how people use social media, this statistic is not surprising.

Users of social media sites scan content quickly for bitesize updates, engaging with content briefly before moving on to the next social media post in their feed.

People who click on an email are three times more likely to buy from your business than someone who has clicked through from a social media page.

In addition, those who click from an email are likely to spend more; the average order value increases by 17% when a visitor originates from email.

Social media interactions are seen as ‘throwaway’ as users can easily follow and unfollow brands with little loyalty.  When subscribing to an email marketing list, the individual is demonstrating a clear intent to hear from and engage with the company.

For this reason, companies are more likely to place a higher value on an email address than a social media connection.

The report also found that the gap between email marketing and social media is reducing.  Many businesses use social media to drive brand awareness and improve overall engagement with email campaigns.

Other key findings include:

  • Time spent on email has dropped as more consumers are turning to instant messaging and social sharing apps.  Marketers need to structure online content well to get their message across.
  • If your website is not optimised for mobile, 61% of contacts would not return again. A huge percentage of your list will use their mobile devices for reading and viewing your email.  If an email recipient clicks through to the website, it should also be fully responsive to provide an optimum experience.  Designing your landing page to ensure maximum responsiveness is key in an increasingly mobile world.
  • Personalised emails increase engagement:  The number of emails sent each day continues to increase and personalised campaigns are proven to increase your return.


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The Benefits of Social Media

When comparing email marketing and social media it is important to consider how social media can be used to improve marketing performance.  Although the study suggests that email marketing is the superior marketing platform, social media does have its place.

Social media is largely an outbound marketing strategy where you send messages which are visible to a large number of people in the hope that some may find your content interesting.

Content on social media sites can be searched and indexed using hashtags which have become popular across all social media sites.  This means that social media users can search content on the site to find people with similar interests.

email marketing and social media can be compared

Social media users can search using #tags to find people with similar interests.

Social media can be used to quickly gain the opinions of your colleagues and fellow professionals on social sites such as LinkedIn.  These social websites can be used to share industry tips and knowledge which can then be used to improve performance further.

Virality is another potential benefit of using social media.  Although email marketing recipients are likely to be interested in what you have to say as they have signed up to an email marketing list, the email is unlikely to be shared in the same way as a social media post.

Whilst only a handful of social media posts go truly viral, having your content shared to a wide ranging audience increases your brand’s visibility.

The Drawbacks of Social Media as a Marketing Platform

Social media content can be created and distributed quickly and does not require as much consideration as email marketing strategies.  Social media messages have less permanence, the half life of a Tweet is a mere 18 minutes according to a study by Moz.

The half life of a Tweet is a mere 18 minutes. Moz.

This has both positive and negative implications for marketers; their content has the potential to reach a high number of people but will not appear in follower’s timelines for long at all.  Employing an effective social media strategy takes a lot of time and effort comparative to the benefits that you can expect.

Organic reach has declined in recent years.

When comparing email marketing and social media it is important to consider how many engaged users you can reach.  Marketing Land reported on the dramatic decrease in organic reach on Facebook in 2016.

Changes to algorithms on social media sites has slashed the effectiveness of social media posts.  Social media marketers are now heavily reliant on paid social promotion options and social sharing to boost their reach.

Social media is less targeted than email marketing as a marketing platform.  Whereas email marketers have the opportunity to segment their email marketing lists and add increasingly personalised content, social media lacks this nuanced approach.

Email marketers can also use automated triggers to target their contacts at relevant points in the customer journey.  This increases engagement levels and ensures that the customer’s needs are met at every opportunity.

Beyond Email Segmentation Download

Email marketing and social media can work together

The McKinsey and Company study demonstrated that email marketing is a vastly more effective marketing platform for customer acquisition than social media.  Although the study was conducted in the US, our experience suggests that the findings are also applicable in the UK.

Specifically when acquiring customers, you can use email marketing lists to build your customer base.  This provides your company with long lasting benefits as customers who are nurtured have an increased customer lifetime value.

When targeting customers with email marketing campaigns you have a number of tools at your disposal including increased opportunities for personalisation and segmentation which are proven techniques to increase performance.

What are your thoughts on the report? Leave a comment below.

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