It’s no secret that social media is creating quite a buzz in the marketing world as people move to leverage social sharing, personal recommendations and the bump in search engine optimization that comes from a well-crafted campaign. Yet with social media gaining so much traction, is it wise to scale back on email marketing to put more resources towards social channels? Not everyone seems to think so.
Social Media Marketing
Research shows that 48.9 percent of marketing professionals plan to increase their spending in social media marketing efforts. But what do they expect to gain from this?
For one, most marketers agree that social media has a much higher engagement rate than email does. By sharing content on social channels, companies can see much higher traffic on their blogs and websites. If the goal is to bring people into these properties to give them information, build a stronger brand or establish your company as a thought leader, then this type of engagement is essential.
Social media also has the ability to take content viral. Hardly anyone shares a marketing email with their friends and family but content shared on social media is frequently reposted, retweeted and passed along to others. Not only is it put in front of a larger audience, but it gets seen by other targeted eyes. People share content with others they think may want to see it, others who have the same interests that they do so you are reaching more of your targeted demographic this way. This also gives you the opportunity to be seen by people who have not engaged with you in the past. With email, your reach is generally limited to your list.
Social media content is also more evergreen. A post may be shared months after it went live keeping the returns coming in for a much longer period of time. If you create content that is still relevant you have the ability to continue to bring in successful returns while you are working on subsequent campaigns.
Social media isn’t without its drawbacks, though. Social media campaigns have to be done right in order to reap the benefits mentioned above. Social media management tools are crucial to social media success, but it takes a lot of time and effort to get it right. In order to build followers, you have to provide them with a steady flow of content and you have to be willing to engage with them.
Social media isn’t as reliable as email either. Even with large armies of followers the click through rates are usually relatively low. Twitter, for example, boasts an average click through rate of only 1.64 percent. Facebook did not fare much better with their rates coming in at only .79 percent for a promoted post.
Finally, there is the danger of spreading yourself too thin when it comes to social media. With so many different channels: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. it is easy to get lost in the shuffle and focus on the wrong demographic.
Without a doubt, the most important benefit to email marketing is the fact that it will reach the intended recipient 90 percent of the time. So if you craft a highly targeted email that is interesting to the intended recipients then you can be assured that most of them will have the opportunity to see it. Compared to social media, this is an extremely high metric when you consider that Facebook posts only reach about 2 percent of their intended audience.
Statistically, you do better with email marketing as well. Studies show that the average open rate for marketing emails is 21.73 percent. So not only do you stand a better chance of getting your message delivered, you have a better chance that someone will see it as well. Email also boasts a much higher click-through rate at 3.57 percent which is more than double of what Twitter sees. To top it off, 64 percent of companies rate email as the most effective marketing channel.
This last statistic likely comes from the ROI that email marketing provides. For every £1 spent the Direct Marketing Association reports that some companies receive a £70 return. Even those who don’t do as well as that top 18 percent can still look forward to a £38 ROI.
The disadvantages to email marketing are pretty apparent. To start with, email lists need to be carefully groomed. You can’t just go out and buy a list of email addresses and expect any returns. You need to collect email addresses from people who want to receive emails from you, much like you have to build a following on social media.
Another area of concern comes from email deliverability. While the 90 percent statistic looks rather good, you can easily kill that by sending out emails that look like spam. Once one of the block lists labels you as a spammer you could wind up hindering future email campaigns. You can get around this with email marketing software that tests deliverability rates and prevents spam emails.
The Bottom Line
So, while social media marketing may get the glamour and the cool names, like “social media rockstar”, it still has a long way to go before it can overtake the tried and true results you get with email marketing. This, however, is no reason to give up on your social media efforts. In fact, many pros are starting to leverage social media as a way to build their email lists . By combining the strengths of both you can see some pretty impressive results.