Is Email Marketing More Effective Than Social Media?

There is still a great deal of talk these days about social media marketing. Pundits and marketing experts across the web say you need to be there – and I agree. It continues to be a growing trend and can be very powerful in gaining brand awareness and engaging your audience, but email marketing should not be forgotten.  So is email marketing more effective than social media?

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to win Social Media Examiner’s Twitter competition to attend Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. There was an incredible lineup of the world’s top experts as keynote speakers on all aspects of social media.  People who I regularly follow and learn from, such as Guy Kawasaki, Mari Smith, Chris Brogan, Amy Porterfield to name but a few.

While they were all passionate about the opportunities social media presented, interestingly the most consistent message that I picked up was that they wished they had started building their email list sooner.

And the reason why? They had built great followings through social media but email marketing was the key to their sales success!

Recent studies also support this view. Price comparison website Give as you Live surveyed more than 4,000 UK shoppers in November and found that almost two thirds (64 percent) would stop what they were doing to click an email link from a retailer.  However, just 10 percent would do the same upon seeing a link on a social media site. (Source: The Drum)

You can build a following through social media but your email list is the key to sales success! Click To Tweet


Email Marketing Is More Personal

Social media is personal, but email is much more personal. Just look at how people treat their email addresses versus their social media accounts. Most people respond to requests to connect on social media by simply accepting. Some people accept requests from anyone. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would give out their email to just anyone. Email addresses are more closely guarded because they’re more private and personal.


Email Has a Higher ROI

The statistics differ in the details but all agree that email marketing has a huge ROI. The Direct Marketing Association estimates it at 4,300%, a number that’s pretty astounding. Compare that to social media, which has a very low ROI. The fact is that social media is simply not for selling. It’s nearly impossible to make sales directly through social media. Email marketing, on the other hand, is very powerful when it comes to generating direct profits.


Playing by Your Own Rules

One more huge advantage of email marketing over social media marketing is that with email, you can play by your own rules. There are a few legal requirements, such as you need to include an unsubscribe link in your messages and present a clear privacy policy, but your list is yours to run as you’d like to.

This is not the case with social media. Each platform has its own rules and regulations governing what you do. This is not to mention the fact that different platforms cater to different people and each has their own tastes. Your email list is your own platform.

So for me, the real answer to the question is that you don’t have to choose between the two! The best option is to harness the power of both. This is my recommendation to all my clients.

You can use social media to drive opt-ins for your list and then market to subscribers through email to make sales. Likewise, you can connect with your email subscribers on social media where you can engage with them on a more personal level. Use each marketing channel for what it’s best for. In my view that’s the perfect marketing blend.


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