Email Marketing: Is It Really Better than Social Media?
Don’t let the new kid on the block (social media) take your full attention away from what’s old but reliable (email marketing). Here’s why.
A lot has been said about social media marketing (especially if you’re a regular follower of my blog, in which case I’d like to thank you and give you a digital handshake).
Industry experts and pundits (myself included) have gone on record time and time again about this. Your business NEEDS to be on social media. The power of social media marketing is simply too great to ignore.
We can get into all of the specifics – how it expands your reach to an astounding degree, how it helps you accurately identify your target audience, and so on – or we can simply look at how other businesses make the most out of it (and their level of success as well).
However, as the case typically is when it comes to any new trends, they end up receiving all the attention and focus you can give — more often than not, at the cost of abandoning old but still sound practices.
Email marketing is one of them. Despite the fact that, as research reveals, email remains a viable marketing tool, it’s simply not as bright and shiny as social media is. With all of social media’s bells and whistles, it has become the hot new darling of virtually every entrepreneur and marketer out there, leaving email marketing in the dust.
Which, to me, is a terrible mistake.
You see, while social media can be very powerful in gaining brand awareness and engaging your audience, there are certain things that email marketing just manages to do better.
Don’t be quick to rule out email marketing from your overall strategy.
Here are five reasons why.
1. Email marketing allows you to take a more personalized approach to your marketing.
Here’s a question: How do you normally react when, say, someone sends you a friend request on your social media account? If you’re on LinkedIn or Facebook, you simply have to click that tiny check button to accept their request to connect — after which you can easily forget about your newly established connection, especially if you don’t communicate much.
Not only that, but on social media, one is inclined to accept friend requests or grant users the permission to follow, even if the person who requested the connection is a complete stranger. Privacy settings sometimes restrict us from fully knowing the person before we establish a connection with them. What if that person is completely different from you, and you share nothing in common? Neither you nor that person would have anything substantial to gain from your connection, except that handy +1 to your friend count, which doesn’t really matter much in the greater scheme of things.
That’s not the case with email marketing. For starters, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would give out their email to anyone. Email addresses are more closely guarded because they’re more private and personal. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of you getting quality leads, while allowing you to personalize your messaging depending on who you want to reach out to.
2. Email marketing gives you a higher return on your investment than social media does.
It’s a bit tricky to quote specific statistics here, because they tend to differ depending on the details. For instance, the Direct Marketing Association has placed the ROI for email marketing at a rather impressive 4,300%. Meanwhile, a recent study by online market research company MarketingSherpa estimates that for every dollar you invest into email marketing, you end up making two and a half times that amount. Either way, these statistics reveal one truth that’s very hard to ignore: Pound for pound, email marketing gives you more bang for your buck than social media.
Now, don’t get me wrong — social media is an indispensable tool for marketing (I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t!), but to use it for actually selling is an entirely different matter. The cold, hard truth is that, with the exception of certain kinds of businesses (often of a highly specialized niche), making direct sales via social media is a long shot. These platforms simply aren’t designed for selling; they’re made for relationship building.
Basically, if you want to sell something, email marketing should be your tool of choice. (More on that in a bit.)
3. With email marketing, you have more control, from format to messaging to sending.
Yet another significant advantage that email marketing has over social media marketing is that it allows for a greater degree of freedom than social media. With social media, you have to conform to certain platform-specific restrictions, in addition to completely different target audiences per platform.
In short, you need to tailor your messages depending on which platform you’re using. Not only will it take you a considerable amount of time, but it also restricts you from delivering the message exactly the way you want to.
You can craft longer messages, send images, and even link to more of your own pages and products without fear of consuming your precious character allocation.
4. Email marketing is much tougher to ignore — and much more compelling.
When you receive an email — especially when it has a well-written headline — you are enticed to read it. This is why, despite being debunked an infinite number of times, Nigerian prince scams and their ilk still make the rounds on various email platforms. (This is in no way an endorsement of email scams, by the way.)
Craft your message carefully and send it through email; research has shown that email’s open rates guarantee that your message will reach your audience. Just be careful not to make your email look spammy (or scammy!), or your email will find its way to your recipient’s trash bin faster than you can say “What’s a good subject line?”
5. Sending an email says a lot about your business (and how you value your customers).
Simply put: A carefully constructed email makes your business feel more genuine and less like a purely money-motivated venture. Much like social media, email marketing lets you show the human side of your brand, except with more words (and thus more room for meaning).
Truth be told, though, you don’t really have to choose one or the other. The best approach is to take advantage of the benefits that both email marketing and social media can provide. It would be wise to maximize the potential of this powerful synergy. Use social media to grow your audience, and then reel them in and make your sale with email. The key here is to know your strategy well, and to use these tools with surgical precision.
Take the first step towards mastering the powerful one-two punch of social media and email marketing. Check out my collaboration with Skillshare, How to Create Engaging Social Media Content, and learn everything you need to know about creating content that attracts and connects with your audience.
Liz Azyan is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society. Get involved with Liz’s latest project here.