Social media vs email marketing

Social Media Marketing vs. Email Marketing: Clarification

As a business leader or marketing expert, you might be wondering which marketing tactics to choose – Social media or Email marketing? Where to put more resources? Is email marketing still effective enough, considering the number of social media consumers these days?

Firstly, you need to know that email and social media serve two different purposes in marketing strategy. They are like two soldiers that fight together for business’s best results, but they do it on two separated fronts. Social media is a powerful backbone for building a brand awareness and engage new potential customers. Social media content can go viral and people can interact with the business and remember it. It also drives much more traffic to your website than email.

On the other side, email is – by a wide margin – a proven king of click rate and conversion rate.

So, how to choose which channel is better for your business? Well, there is no better or the best channel. Only using them together will increase the level of business success. Let’s consider both social media and email marketing from the aspect of results you can get:

What can you expect?

Reach: According to The Radicati Group Report, it is estimated that there will be 3.8+ billion email users by the start of 2019. Half of our planet already uses email. A number of email users per year grows about 3% each year and it will continue to grow. Email is the most pervasive communication channel and it outperforms social networking, instant messaging (IM) and all others!

Having thousands of email subscribers and thousands of Facebook likes is not the same at all. Publishing on social media doesn’t mean that all fans will see each post. Actually, only a few people will see it, due to complex social media algorithms. On the other side, the average email open rate is more than 20%! To emphasize, this is the average rate, and it can be easily increased to even more than 40% by writing adequate subject lines.

Conversion: Email drives more conversion than any other channel. Email marketing messages are way more direct and personalized than social media messages. And that’s the way it should be because social media is more oriented towards engagement and generates more entertaining and indirect content. It’s possible to segment customers well on social media, of course, however, the old-but-gold way of sending targeted messages to email lists is still the most effective in terms of conversion.

According to DMA 66% of online consumers made a purchase as a result of email marketing messages!

But there is one KPI where social media is unbeatable: 57% of global content sharing activities comes from Facebook!

People are more likely to share posts from different brands on social media than they are via email. However, email can also provide engagement by sending traffic to the blog or website. We’ve summarized crucial marketing aspects of email marketing vs Facebook vs Twitter in the chart below:

Email Facebook Twitter
Number of users 2.6 billion 1.7 billion 313 million
Use this channel daily 91% 57% 14%
Purchase as a result from marketing of this channel 66% 20% 6%
Content sharing activities 4% 57% 18%
Open/Click through/Engagement rate 18% OR

3.7% CTR

0.07% 0.03%

How Does Email Drive More Sales?

Email is a place for direct marketing messages. According to the ExactTarget’s 2012 Channel Preference Survey even 77% of consumers prefer to receive marketing offers via email. Taking into consideration that people use social media for content sharing, interacting with friends, playing games and relax watching posts from brands they love or news from traditional media portals, we can conclude that most of the people feel uncomfortable when they get sales offers on, for example, Facebook.

Companies that send promotional messages via email use perfectly acceptable way of driving conversion. Social media should primary be used for connecting with the audience. Thus, marketers agree that email is the best sales channel.

People on email lists are those who agreed that they want to receive news, updates, promotional material etc. The target is already there and therefore is important to create the most effective email content in order to sell more.

Email is still the Number One, but…

Although email marketing represents a stronger marketing approach than social media in terms of conversion, that doesn’t mean social media is less important. It is actually crucial when it comes to connecting with new people and positioning of your brand on the market. Before they sign up to your email list, people need to be aware of your brand. Also, social media is evolving and developing, new features are growing and are creating new marketing opportunities.

The most effective marketing approach is comprehensive. Hence, there is no reason for picking only one marketing channel and expect remarkable outcomes. Both email and social media are equally important, but resource allocation, clear expectations, and awareness of possibilities for each channel are essential in sales growth with marketing strategies.

One of the smartest marketing decision is to take advantage of both channels. Social media can drive visitors to your website. Email marketing should be implemented for generating leads and increasing customer retention. Social media is a great channel for growing an email list where conversion happens, but this doesn’t mean that you will get new consumers by simply including them on the email list. It’s actually only one step in the marketing process. An email campaign is a business secret weapon for increasing sales, and much attention and effort need to be put in every email marketing campaign.


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