Marketing

Why Email Will Always Beat Social Media

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Matt Moran

18 Oct, 2019

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When you’re running a small business, both your marketing budget and your time are finite. Sometimes, it makes sense to focus your efforts on one specific marketing channel rather than several, but that begs the question: which is better, email marketing or social media?

The truth is that while social media is the new darling of the marketing world, email is still king when it comes to customer acquisition and generating sales. Don’t get me wrong, social media is definitely a valuable weapon in your marketing arsenal, but if you’re trying to generate revenue, nothing beats email— and it probably never will.

But don’t just take my word for it. We’ve put together this in-depth article on email marketing vs social media marketing to share all the relevant facts with you so that you can come to your own conclusions.

From here on out, we’ll be comparing social media and email marketing in detail, starting with some key statistics.

Email marketing vs social media marketing statistics

Numbers speak louder than words, so here are some key statistics that show how social media marketing stacks up against email marketing.

Email marketing Social media marketing
Email marketing has an average ROI of 4400%, per Campaign Monitor Social media has an unknown average ROI as it’s very difficult to measure
44% of users check their email for deals from brands, per OptinMonster Just 4% of users check Facebook for deals from brands, per OptinMonster
60% of customers have made a purchase after receiving a marketing message by email, per OptinMonster Just 12.5% of customers consider using the buy button on social media, per OptinMonster
60% of customers subscribe to brand email lists to receive deals and promotional messages, per OptinMonster 20% of customers follow brands on social media to access deals, per OptinMonster
The average email open rate is 22.86%, per OptinMonster Organic reach on Facebook is just 6.51%, per Hubspot
The average email click through rate (CTR) is 3.71%, per OptinMonster Click through rates on Tweets are around 1-3%, per Wordstream
Average conversion rate: 3%+, per Campaign Monitor Average conversion rate: 0.5%+, per Campaign Monitor
58% of consumers check email first at the start of the day, per OptinMonster 14% of consumers check social media first at the start of the day, per OptinMonster

The key takeaways

Looking at these statistics, we can draw the following conclusions:

  • Organic reach is around 4x higher on email than on social media
  • Your customers are much more likely to click through your links on email than social media
  • Conversion rates are at least three times higher on email than on social media
  • Customers prefer to receive promotional messages on email than social media

Related: 40 Email Marketing Statistics that Are Shaping the Future

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The key takeaway here is that email simply converts much better than social does— but why?  

Well, it’s all about user preferences. Consumers expect different things from brands on different platforms. Social channels might be the preferred platform for engaging with brands but, on email, they expect deals. 

As such, purchase intent is much higher on email, which is why it converts so well and delivers superior ROIs. Email might not be an exciting, shiny new tool like Pinterest or Instagram, but it does one thing really well: generate revenue.

Related: 9 Email Marketing Tips to Boost Revenue

Why is email so good?

The benefits don’t end there, either. There are plenty of other reasons why marketers love email. 

Here are just a few of them.

It’s an ‘owned’ channel

Marketers often talk about owned, earned, and paid media channels. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are mainly paid or earned media channels in that they’re owned and controlled by third parties, and brands have to rely on paid ads or ‘earning’ social shares to market their products or services. 

Your email mailing list, on the other hand, is an asset that you own. It doesn’t cost a penny to advertise to your mailing list and, as email is a communication channel that isn’t owned by any specific third-party, you’re in complete control over your campaign.

The power of the email list

The other great thing about your mailing list is that the customer’s on it already have an existing relationship with your brand. 

With paid social ads, you’re promoting your brand to consumers who haven’t specifically ‘opted-in’ or asked to receive promotional material. With email, your customers have asked to receive the content you send them, so they’re much more likely to open and engage with it. 

It’s more flexible

Email marketing is incredibly flexible. Unlike social media, you’re not limited by characters and can include any outbound links you like. You can also use things like segmentation to personalize your content for specific customers based on the data you collected when putting together your mailing list to increase the effectiveness of your campaign. 

Consistent, predictable reach

Your reach on email is pretty predictable. As long as you use effective email subject lines and build your mailing list organically, you can have a reasonable idea of the number of people that are going to open and click through your emails.

On social media, reach is much less predictable. Some of your posts can go viral if people engage with them and share them, whereas others will fall flat. 

Measurable ROIs

A recent survey found that 55% of social marketers rate measuring social media ROI as their top concern, but with email, measuring ROI is very easy. You can set up tracking links to track the number of people clicking through and converting to sales, then use this information to guide your marketing efforts in the future.

Longevity

If you’re worried that email is a passe platform that’s slowly dying, don’t be. Email isn’t going anywhere for a long, long time. There will probably be more people using email than social media for many years to come. After all, you can’t sign up for social media without an email account.

How social media and email marketing can work together

While email might be the clear winner when it comes to sales and customer acquisition, it doesn’t mean you should neglect your social media marketing efforts. 

The truth is, there’s room for both in your marketing campaign. In fact, the best marketers understand that effective campaigns utilize both these channels in tandem.

It’s all about multi-channel marketing. You need to maximize your opportunities to interact with prospective customers and create multiple ‘touch points’ to engage with them. This holistic approach provides a seamless experience for your customers and helps usher them down your sales channel.

Here are some practical ways you can integrate both social media and email marketing in your next campaign.

Retargeting ads

One great way to integrate social media and email marketing is to use your mailing list to create retargeting ads on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. 

You can upload your email mailing list to both platforms to create a custom audience for your ads. That way, you can be sure that your ads reach customers that have already expressed an interest in your brand.

Use social media to build your list

One thing social media is great for is driving traffic to your website and we can leverage this to build our mailing list. 

It goes a little something like this:

  1. Set up a landing page on your brand website to collect email addresses (tip: offer an exclusive discount or giveaway in return for email sign-ups)
  2. Run a social media campaign using paid ads or viral posts and link back to the landing page in the post/ad or your bio
  3. Drive traffic to the landing page and grow your list
  4. Unlock email marketing ROI

Related: How to Use Wifi Marketing to Grow Your Email List

Use email campaigns to drive social engagement

As well as using social media to help improve the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign, you can also do the same thing in reverse. 

One really great strategy is to use email marketing to drive social engagement. For example, you could run a social media contest or giveaway and use email to drum up some excitement about it by sharing the news with your mailing list.

You could also include things like ‘Pin It’ buttons for Pinterest, or ‘Tweet It’ buttons to encourage retweets on Twitter.

When to focus on social

Comparison of the benefits of using email and social media marketing

So far, we’ve been putting a pretty strong case forward for email marketing. That’s because we believe it’s still the single most important marketing channel for most businesses— by a long way.

However, that isn’t to say that you should neglect your social media marketing efforts either. They’re still important, just not as important as email. 

There are some instances where you might want to focus on social media. Here are a few of them.

Boosting brand awareness/recognition is a top priority

If you’re number one target is to boost brand awareness and recognition, social media marketing can be a great way to achieve that. Email marketing might be great for driving sales, but it’s not so great at getting your brand image out there, whereas social is.

You need to grow your mailing list

You can’t run an email marketing campaign if you don’t already have a substantive mailing list to send your offers too. If you’re still in the ‘growing phase’, social media can be an integral part of your strategy. You can use social marketing to drive traffic to your capture page and grow your list.

You’re focusing on customer service/engagement/brand loyalty

The great thing about social media is that it allows you to have real, meaningful conversations with your customers. Consumers like to use social platforms to engage directly with brands, give feedback, and voice their concerns. 

As such, it’s an important platform for providing customer service. You can leverage social media to improve the customer experience, connect with your customers, and ultimately improve brand loyalty.

Email marketing vs social media: the final verdict

Overall, it’s clear that, while social media has it’s uses, email continues to be the most important marketing channel for businesses, and we suspect it will be for many years to come. 

That being said, if you really want to make the most out of email, try to integrate and coordinate it with your social marketing efforts— your ROI might just go through the roof.

Good luck!

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