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Social Media Marketing vs Email Marketing: Do we have a clear winner yet?

Social Media Marketing vs Email Marketing: Do we have a clear winner yet?

The onset of social media has taken the marketing world by storm. Over the recent few years, with a burgeoning proportion of people getting onto different social media platforms, marketers have realised the immense power of social media marketing tools to reach a consumer market wider than ever before. Each passing day new marketing tools for social media marketing and management of digital marketing of businesses are being launched which have opened up newer, refreshed avenues for reaching a brand’s target consumers. But the question to ponder upon is: does the rising trend of digital social media marketing overweigh the effectiveness of traditionally popular ’email marketing’? Developing a thoughtful answer would involve considering both sides of the argument and balancing the pros and cons of both with respect to efficiency in return on investment for both the tools. 

There is no denying the fact that popular social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc. have a ‘lot’ of people using these platforms and this fact itself serves as a window for small and large businesses alike to use the potential of social media to target particular segments and to convert social media users into customers and leads for their business.


Brands, in recent times, have understood the importance of viral marketing which can be effectively achieved through social media and not through traditional email marketing. Businesses have been reaping huge returns on investing in ‘influencer marketing’ on digital media platforms and there is a definite edge which social platforms offer in terms of ‘reach’ over email marketing. The development of social media analytical tools has been a natural repercussion of digital marketing over social media and these tools have enabled brands to understand in-depth about their audience, its behaviour and its likes and dislikes, which in today’s day and age is a huge asset for a marketing professional.

The ‘marketing’ side of social media has developed very recently and quickly over some time with the influx of Facebook Ads Manager, Instagram Ads, paid promotions and brand-sponsored posts and these have enabled businesses to micro-manage their marketing campaigns and target very specific sections of the society according to their product or service. The outlook of a brand’s social media profiles and pages has been proven to affect the brand value of a brand and hence companies are spending tons of dollars to get the right outlook and frame the right content for these platforms.

Social media tools have a definite advantage over email marketing in terms of the ‘post sharing’ benefits and the ability to secure a higher audience engagement rate, two metrics which are highly valued by marketers. 

Email marketing on the other hand, still holds immense marketing potential and value in a marketer’s toolkit. Despite the social media boom, email users are still way more than users of social media and hence, the potential of email marketing cannot be undermined.

Recent studies by Optinmonster have suggested that more percentage of users check their email the first thing in the morning as compared to social media platforms. The consistency and regularity in checking emails is definitely more than the consistency in use of social media platforms on an average. Email marketing definitely ensures a higher open/click engagement rate and studies have revealed that emails still have a higher success ratio in terms of the number of people who made a purchase after seeing an email promotion.

The Optinmonster study reveals that 77% of the people surveyed prefer email over social media for permission-based promotional messages as it has been observed that people react positively to promotional emails for discounts and deals. According to a recent iConsumer survey by consulting bigwig McKinsey, email is still significantly more effective to acquire customers as against social media and offers huge benefits in terms of lead generation and improved customer conversion rate.

A number of studies have in recent times concluded that Email Marketing still is as relevant and important as before and offers the highest ROI as compared to any other social media channel. Email marketing also overcomes some of the disadvantages of social media marketing: social media marketing can surely get expensive, especially when one starts using paid promotions and tools.

Also, with the recent growth of influencer marketing, fake social media followers have become a common trend and hence for a business who is not well versed with social media, the number of users on these channels can prove to be deceptive and hence not yield the requisite results as against the investment one puts in.

Another key disadvantage of social media marketing is that your post on social media is competing with personal posts and hence, social media channels are less effective for targeted marketing. People prefer social media for interacting and keeping in touch with their friends and family and hence, excessive use of social media for product or service marketing can be resisted and hence have a harmful effect on your brand image. 

Balance, as with every other thing in life, is essential in marketing as well. For a product or service marketer, it is essential to get the highest reach for its marketing campaign and get the desired conversion rate so that the business can get the highest ROI on whatever marketing campaign it invests on.

Thus, it is necessary to keep in mind the pros and cons of both the modes of marketing and not to dismiss any marketing tool just on the basis of the hype of the other. Many companies are now effectively using a balance of the two and using social media tools to effectively complement email marketing. Knowing well that email marketing is still more effective in customer conversion, it is a great idea to get social media followers to subscribe to your email list. Thus, getting new leads from social media and nurturing them through email marketing is the key. Understanding what a brand seeks to achieve is the key so that a hybrid strategy can be formulated by dividing costs among the marketing tools accordingly.