Well, it’s sure been a bad month for Facebook. Ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, their users have been jumping ship faster than you can say ‘data breach’.
Share prices are plummeting. Advertisers are freaking out… not just over the mass exodus of their intended audience, but also the knee-jerk algorithm changes that make it harder and harder to reach the people who stay. Things have changed dramatically from a year or two ago when some daft talking-heads insisted that email was out and social was the best route for marketing. We thought now was as good a time as any to re-ask the question – social media marketing vs email marketing?
And while we’d hate to say we told you so, well… what we WILL say is we’re surer than ever that email marketing is the best, most reliable, most effective way to reach your audience and here’s why.
Social Media Marketing vs Email Marketing
In this article…
- You won’t suddenly lose your audience with email
- Social media relies on email, anyway
- Getting rid of the middleman
- Taking control of your analytics
- Why you get better conversion rates with email
- Give the people what they want!
1. People Don’t Quit Email
Lately, a ton of my friends have done a ‘digital detox’; they close their Facebook accounts, stop checking Twitter, go Insta-cold turkey. You know what they never count as part of that detox? Their email! Why? Because they might actually miss something important.
That’s why 58% of people check their emails first thing in the morning before they do anything else, and why most people check their personal email – not even their work email – between one and three times per day. It sets the agenda. You can’t completely escape it the way you can with a more frivolous communication medium – that’s why no one ever just ‘quits email’ completely.
2. Social Relies on Email, Anyway!
People aren’t going to abandon email any time soon, for one very good reason: you need an email address to open any social media account.
While social media is an important part of any online marketing mix, the original email address that a person uses to open all those accounts is always going to be the holy grail. As we’ll talk about in a moment, it’s the one reliable channel to get through to them, no matter how fickle they are about which social accounts they use on a regular basis. Once you have a person’s email address, it’s easy to ask them if they’d like to follow you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so on… it’s much harder to work in the opposite direction.
3. It’s a Direct Line of Communication
Social media platforms have an infuriating habit of changing their algorithms without notice, or making things pay-to-play without warning, or restricting your ability to connect with an audience you may have spent years and years painstakingly building.
That can’t happen when you have an email list. There are no middlemen or gatekeepers here, preventing you from getting in touch with qualified leads, or with people who have expressly stated that they want to hear from you. If you’re using the right email marketing software provider, you’ll never have to pay simply to speak to people you’ve already done the hard work enlisting.
In short, you have peace of mind that you’re in control of how you communicate with your audience, without the fear that the rules of the game could suddenly change without any time to adapt.
4. You Have Way More Control Over Your Analytics
Not only do you have far more autonomy over the way you communicate with people on your email list, you also have more control over how you track, break down and analyse those communications and interactions, figuring out what’s working and what’s bringing the best return on investment.
All the data is in your hands, for you to interpret and explore however you like. You don’t have to place your faith in reports from an external platform or to guess exactly who saw your content and how they interacted with it. All this information is at your disposal, directly.
What’s more, if you have a top-notch email marketing tool, you can go further, trying out different approaches and styles, split testing your emails to figure out which version works best, and so on. You aren’t constrained by the design of someone else’s site, the way things show up in their feed or their design elements. You have complete power to hone your email marketing materials until they’re perfect and to track the impact of every tiny alteration along the way.
5. The Returns Are Much, Much Better
Ultimately, the battle between social media marketing vs email marketing comes down to cold, hard, results. On this front, the stats are straightforward: email is better.
Roughly one in five marketing emails get opened, and the overall click-through rate is a little under 4%. That might not sound hugely inspiring… until you consider that Facebook’s click-through rate is a pretty depressing 0.07%.
When you get right down to ROI, the difference is even more dramatic. Research by eMarketer in 2016 found that spending on email marketing yields a median ROI of 122%, compared to just 28% across all social media. When you take into account that most social media spending is on Facebook, a platform which is actively pulling away from marketers right now to focus on ‘personal’ connections, it seems fair to guess that this figure is set to get worse, not better.
6. Social Media Marketing vs Email Marketing – Which does your audience want?
Email. Perhaps most importantly of all, a whopping 77% of people say that they would rather get promotional messages through email than through social media!
That’s because, as a channel, this makes sense. When you check your emails, you know that you’re looking at a list of messages from people who want to get in touch with you for a specific purpose. You’re unlikely to feel irritated or fazed by promotional emails – at least, not ones you’ve opted in for… and if they do get too much, you can always delete them or unsubscribe.
Advertising and marketing messages through social media aren’t like that. They often feel intrusive, or jarring. One minute you’re scrolling through pictures of your best friend’s latest holiday/baby/ new kitten / whatever, the next, you’re faced with a huge sponsored post pushing you to sign up for an exercise app or retargeting a lamp you considered buying last week. Unsurprisingly, it gets on people’s nerves.
Instead of forcing the issue, why not respect what your audience is telling you they want from you? Make social media marketing part of your mix, sure – but respect the fact that people prefer for you to reach out by email, and make sure that’s your strong suit.
Social Media Marketing vs Email Marketing? …and the clear winner is…