Email marketing surpasses social media because it goes directly to the a place where people are looking to receive messages. Social media is a place where people go to communicate yes but not only communicate, it is largely a place to browse. This is why Facebook created the message and email function….because they know that this type of communication is a superior delivery method. In addition, because email can use HTML code it allows for a much better delivery method that allows for more flexibility. This flexibility includes the ability to embed images, attach documents or embed links to aid your marketing methods. Social media has many constraints on how things can be displayed which can often work against your marketing goals. In addition email allows for superior delivery tracking metrics as you can track, who all received your message, who opened it and who clicked on your links within the email. Within social media the only thing you can track is if someone takes an action. You can not track who your message was delivered to, you can’t see who has read your message and you can’t see who has clicked on your links. Given the flexibility and tracking features of email marketing it has a far more superior delivery method than social media.
2. Read Rate
Average email marketing open rates are anywhere from 10-20% depending on which study and industry you refer to. Compare this to the average Facebook, Twitter or other social media post. On these mediums people are connected to hundreds or thousands of people that are also posting. If someone has 500 friends and each one makes one post a day, that means their news feed could have up to 500 posts per day. I know personally I maybe read the top ten posts on my newsfeed when I log in or on occasion read read the top 20 but never more. That works out to a read rate of like 2 to 4%. Because of the mass volume of posts on social media sites, the read rate is much lower then email. And if less people read your messages….then the medium is less effective.
Social media does beat email for the amount of time spent on each activity at about 22% vs 8% respectively, but given the much higher number of connections on social media sites, that time is more fragmented across a wide range of pages. In addition only a small portion of that time on social media sites is spent on corporate or business pages, most of the time spent on facebook or other social media sites is spent viewing friend pages. I do not have any figures but my estimate is that the amount of time spent on marketing related pages when on social media sites is low compared to the amount of time spent reading marketing emails.
In addition the fact that 58% of internet users check their email when first going online versus only 14% checking social media sites first says something about which gets the higher amount and level of attention. People usually do first what they are most interested in or see as the most important. Another reason why email is superior to social media is because it is still the primary source of communication online and is given the most attention. This may change over time as tools are put in place and tactics are learned for how to have a higher interaction rate with prospects over social media but currently email wins hands down in this area.
Email is a medium where people have the habit of attempting to keep track of all or most messages. Social media is much more of a browsing usage in nature. People usually check all email messages that are delivered to their in box, at least reading the subject line. People do not read all messages on a social media site as there is just too many messages. In essence people put more importance on an email message then a social media post, because it is directed from one person to another. Email can be used to create marketing newsletters that people read regularly and wait in anticipation of receiving (if they are a really good newsletter). I have not heard of anyone ever waiting in anticipation for a social media post . Given email is given more importance, it is the better medium for communicating marketing messages when you are trying to entice or convince a prospect to purchase.
I am not saying social media is not a valuable tool. It is a great tool that every business should use to market its business. It just should not become the only focus in your marketing efforts. Specifically email marketing and social media should play of each other as each can compound the effectiveness of the other. Social media should play a role that is part of a larger marketing plan and within that plan email marketing should be given more prominence as it is the more power tool to generate sales.
Will email marketing always be better than social media at generating sales? Only time will tell, but currently email trumps social media as a more effective marketing medium to generate new customers. My hypotheses is that social media will always be a powerful tool earlier on in the buying process for things such as creating awareness, education and interest in products and services but that email will always be the more powerful tool for later stages of the buying process when looking to persuade and sell to prospects.
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