Email vs. Social Media as a Marketing Tool

Marketers these days tend to embrace social media as the end-all and be-all of marketing online. While the massive faith in the platform isn’t completely unfounded, it may be a little bit misplaced if said marketers are ignoring email and focusing completely on social media campaigns. This is because of one very simple reason: email still trumps social media as a marketing tool.

Despite the army of marketing consultants that warn businesses of being left behind if they don’t streamline their online campaigns into more social media-oriented ones, the marketing data firm Custora recently published a report that points to email still being king of the ring. According to the report, online retailers over the past four years have managed to quadruple the rate of customer acquisition through email while Facebook over the same period barely registered sales, and the number of those who do connect and buy through Facebook remained largely flat. Twitter’s case is even worse, as they barely register at all.

Custora’s figures came from over 72 million customers that have shopped on 86 different online retailers. The data was gathered by tracking the behavior of the customers, particularly where they clicked from and what and how much they bought for the next two years.

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The Main Advantage of Email

Email has a distinct advantage – an unfair one, at that – in the sense that shoppers who have received the emails are probably those who have already given their contact details to a business, which points to the likely possibility that they already have prior relationship with the retailer.

This also means that there is a distinction between spam and emails that were sent with permission, so it is best to think of the proper context. Don’t think email being inherently better than social media is an excuse to start pumping out spam. You still need to go through the proper channels and do it ethically in order to see the true benefits. Email is only powerful if it’s being sent to people who really need or want to receive them. Otherwise you’re wasting time and money just to get filtered and reported for spam.

Social Media’s Place

Finally, the findings do paint a bad picture for social media in comparison to email and with regard to marketing, but it does not necessarily mean that they are useless. Advertisements and campaigns on social media are not exclusive to immediate clicks. They have the potential to build awareness and engagement with customers. The trick, as it always has been, is to incorporate both social media and email in your marketing toolbox, making sure that you’re playing to the strengths of both platforms.

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