Do you remember how you shopped when you were in school, given that you are a 90s kid or older? You’d look forward to Sundays as family shopping days. You’d go to the mall, check out the stores and stock up on must-have items. However now, the whole shopping experience has changed. Yes, malls still exist but the quintessential “Sunday shopping time” has gone. Majority of our shopping happens through emails and social media. Classic case - we are browsing stories, seeing our favourite influencers rocking an amazing product or using a stellar service, and our fingers quickly hit the “see more” option and boom! We end up making the purchase.
Email marketing and social media marketing are gaining more prominence from a business standpoint. Today, these strategies make up for a chunk of a marketer’s job. Blogging, sharing posts, replying to comments, creating ads, and the list goes on. And why not? As per Optinmonster, there are more than 4.3 billion Internet users in the world, with nearly all of them having active email addresses, and approximately 80% of them having social media accounts. But have you ever wondered which one is more effective as a means to engage your audience better?
Social media is definitely where the world is headed, but does that mean email marketing is completely out of the door?
In the following article, we look at the definition and methods of social media marketing vs. email marketing. We will also provide some tips on how to effectively use either or both of the inbound marketing strategies.
Email Marketing - Here to Stay?
Email marketing, as the name states, is an inbound marketing tool where email is used as a medium to communicate a brand’s messaging. Email marketing quickly became the most popular form of inbound marketing because of its high ROI and clearly shows why email marketing is here to stay. Let's chalk out some advantages:
- Reach: Did you know that email marketing campaigns reach the intended recipient 90% of the time? It’s hard to replicate this type of accurate reach through any other channel. Radicati states that the number of email users is positioned to grow by 3% every year until 2021.
- Click-Through Rate: Email marketing currently has a click-through rate of 20-30% which translates into the fact that your message is 5 times more likely to be seen via email than Facebook or any other social media site. Smart Insight's statistics further support this trend - they reported that email campaigns see 50-100 times the click rates than that of social media.
- Segmented Lists: With email marketing, you can segment lists and deliver personalised messaging according to different buyer personas that increase your chances of conversion. You can also design drip campaigns based on audience behaviour.
- Unbelievable ROI: Email marketing continues to deliver one of the best ROIs amongst any marketing tool. According to Campaign Monitor, the average return on investment (ROI) for email marketing is 4400% (wow!), which translates into a return of $44 for every $1 you spend. It also helps that email marketing is about 10 times cheaper than Facebook and Google Ads.
- Safety: Security and control of personal data is a very high priority for today’s consumers. Pew Research Institute reports that 60% of the population feels email does a better job of protecting their privacy than social media, and 73% indicate that email is the preferred mode of communication for businesses.
Now, some disadvantages:
- More training: In order to ensure your email campaigns are successful, you need to invest in training of your marketing team. They need to know how to create catchy subject lines and messaging so your campaign doesn’t get categorised as “spam.”
- Time: Today, you can no longer purchase “email lists” and move on. It takes time to build lists via sign-ups, incentives, and pre-approved permissions. Inbound marketers usually rely on lead flows and then further attracting the leads through smart content, which builds over time.
Social Media Marketing - All the 'NOs' and 'YESs'
Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn; we live in a social media world. There are 3.5 billion social media users worldwide. That is almost 45% of the world's population! If that isn’t a compelling reason to include social media marketing in your inbound marketing plan, then here is another figure for you to ponder upon - As per Globalwebindex, “54% of social browsers use social media to browse products.” It’s hardly surprising why brands have started using social media to engage with their audience at a deeper level and provide satisfactory customer support. According to another study, 57% of global content sharing happens through Facebook, while email holds only 4%.
Let's explore some more advantages of using social media marketing:
- Higher Engagement Rates: Marketers agree that the engagement experienced via social media is like no other. According to Sprout Social, 30% of millennials engage with a brand via social media at least once a month.
- Let’s Go Viral: Don’t we all enjoy seeing the next “viral” thing-whether it’s a meme or a video? It’s true that content shared on social media is most likely to be shared and reposted further. With social media, you have a chance of reaching a larger audience, faster. With email marketing, your message usually stops with the intended reader.
- Best for Branding: On social media, your brand’s logo and messaging are more visible, making it easier for followers to remember and connect with you every time they see your name.
- Multiple Connects: With social media, you can not only connect with your audience multiple times a day, but you also can gain precious insights into their behaviour without having to worry about the security and privacy measures that emails have to adhere to.
- Publish Specific Content: As per Wordstream, Facebook and Instagram, two of the more popular social networks than the rest, offer a massive selection of demographics against which you can publish your ads and messaging. Facebook, for instance, allows numerous targeting options under location, interests, behaviour, and demographics.
And some disadvantages:
- Tricky to Prove the ROI: You might have a lot of followers on social media, but does that always translate into bottom-line results? With social media, tracking campaigns to revenue is kind of challenging when you are reaching out to several buyer personas in different sale cycle stages.
- Costly: The messaging on social media has to be consistent and it usually takes a team of people to produce quality content (videographers, copywriters, etc.). Furthermore, the costs of running ads on multiple platforms can quickly rack up the bill.
- Spreading Yourself Too Thin: There are so many social media outlets on different platforms that sometimes you can find yourselves too thin. Creating, posting, and then following up with all users across channels can get somewhat chaotic.
So, Which One to Choose?
When deciding between social media and email marketing, take a step back to understand that each platform serves a different purpose and they can’t be used as a replacement for each other. If your business goal is to build brand awareness and drive traffic, then social media might be better for you. Email marketing is best for driving those conversions, pushing sales, and retaining customers. Know your business goals and then pick your strategy. In some cases, a combination of the two might be the most suitable option. For instance, social media is a great way to increase signups for your newsletter. See where this is going?
Which one do you prominently use - email marketing or social media marketing and why? Share with us in the comments below.