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Email versus social media marketing: Which is best for your business?
Knct Social / 09 Jun /

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A great chunk of a digital marketer’s day is spent on the social media -- answering queries, collecting feedback, putting up status updates and creating ads. Getting caught up in social media marketing though should not mean ignoring email marketing.  Many digital marketers unfortunately end up doing so. This might potentially be a big strategic mistake that will cost the company much in terms of sales and conversions.

Consider the statistics
Facebook has over 1 billion active users per month and Twitter has over 250 million users. These statistics is oft-quoted but the figures that you don't get to hear often are these:  the total number of email accounts worldwide is projected to be nearly 5 billion by end of 2017.

This means that there are nearly three more email accounts than there are Facebook and Twitter accounts. What's more, email marketing has been known to outperform social media marketing when it comes to conversions.

Digital marketers often try in vain to discern which channels work best for their campaigns. As the online advertising market deepens, it is important to remember that campaigns too need to be diverse to reach a larger audience. In this backdrop, let us examine how email marketing and social media marketing stand up to scrutiny.

Is email marketing better?
Marketing strategies are not just built on statistics but also on the level of engagement. Open rates for email marketing messages, for instance, are in the range of 20 to 30 per cent while the reach of Facebook updates is only around 6 per cent.

Marketing blogger Derek Halpern did an interesting experiment where he sent his blog post to the same number of people on email and Twitter. The results are revealing; 300 people clicked the post through Twitter while 4,200 people clicked through email!

More personal and professional
Apart from these rather jaw-dropping figures, emails have another advantage. They are more personal and arguably better suited for business. Email is the first social media channel and it still has that first mover advantage; moreover, how often do you catch yourself sending a private message on Facebook or Twitter? Aren't you likely to say ‘email me’?

Also, many companies do not encourage employees to constantly be on Facebook or Twitter. But the same does not hold true for emails -- every one of us will have our Gmail or Outlook open. Secondly, formal communication works better when it comes to building business relationships and dealing with clients in a professional manner.

But don't ignore the power of social media
The fact that email marketing has several advantages does not mean that social media marketing is any inferior. Though email marketing's reach and response might be higher than on social media, it is more difficult to access people on their email than on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Also, if the brand already has a familiarity and following on Facebook or Twitter, it is more likely that an email from that brand will be opened rather than sent to trash.

Social media is also extremely useful in growing your email list through forms such as the Facebook subscription or the Twitter Lead Generation Card. Social media also drives traffic to email newsletters. Their greatest advantage lies in the overall strong online presence that they provide companies and how they help brands stay in the public mindscape.

Is integration the answer?
In conclusion, it seems the days of competition between email and social media marketing seem to be over. It is now the age of integration. While each channel of communication has its own pros and cons, integration promises big benefits for both. In fact, email and social media campaigns work best when one is positively feeding the other. Marketers should resist getting completely lured by social media (and not devote enough attention to email marketing). At the same time, they should remember that email marketing is a communication channel through which they can reap rich dividends.

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