Email marketing or social media, which channel is better?

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13, February 2020

Email marketing or social media, which one is best used for online marketing? Contrary to what some people think, email marketing remains one of the most effective  channels available. Especially when it comes to bonding and converting prospects and customers, email is head and shoulders above social media. Social media, however, is better for reaching a new target group.

So the question shouldn’t be whether you should use email marketing or social media, but how you can use both channels to reinforce one another. By correctly utilizing email and social media, they can seamlessly complement each other in the customer journey. This article examines the various advantages of the channels, and explains how you can most effectively combine both media in your marketing mix.

Number of users: email versus social media

Before we go any further, there is a misunderstanding we would like to clear up. Some people think that email is a medium that had lost its relevance together with the fax around the turn of the century. Nothing could be further from the truth. Worldwide there are more active email users than ever before: 3.8 billion in total, who together send around 281 billion messages each day. Compare this with all social media, which together have 2.8 billion active users globally.

So for anyone who wishes to reach a large active audience, email is the best choice. Certainly considering the fact that the social market is rather fragmented. Facebook is the largest player with 2.4 billion active users – of whom 1.6 million use the platform on a daily basis. This means that there are another 1.2 billion users that are spread across various channels.

As the name social media implies, it involves not one medium but a collection of media. The total number of social users therefore does not actually say a great deal about the potential reach of a channel. So in contrast to email marketing, with social media you would have to be active on various platforms within your channel strategy.

Reaching a new target group

An area in which social media does score better is accessing a new audience. With email marketing you need an opt-in, so your recipients are by definition already familiar with your brand. With social media this is different, of course. You can target a new audience that meets your wishes relatively easy using social advertising.

Control over who you reach

It is more difficult when you want to convert your new audience through your website. At the start of the last decade, social media were still an important source of organic traffic for many companies. These days, however, you have to deal with social algorithms of platforms that prefer their visitors not to leave for another site. Even with a substantial advertising budget it is no longer as easy to attract traffic to your landing pages – not even if you focus on your own followers.

More and more marketeers are realising that a large number of likes or followers is not as valuable as they first thought. Moreover, nine out of ten American marketeers state control and stability as important reasons for preferring email marketing to using any other channel. As long as you have deliverability under control, algorithms will not hinder your email marketing. This way, you retain control over your database and who you reach.

Conversion and ROI

Another area in which email is more effective than social media is return on investment (ROI). Especially considering the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to organically reach your target group. Depending on the figures you use, email marketing delivers a ROI of between 122 and 3800 percent. The ROI for social advertising lies around 28 percent. Alternatively, social media conversion is not even expressed in turnover, but in factors such as likes or traffic and followers (pdf).

Combine the power of email and social media

The above advantages basically show that email marketing and social media can both play their own unique role in the customer journey. So how can you effectively combine them in a complementary manner? Here are a number of tips to help you:

  • Use social media and email marketing at the right time in the customer journey. Use social media to tempt people with the right interests or job title to register for your newsletter. Afterwards, use email marketing to build a bond with these leads by sharing informative content with them or by converting them in your webshop with a special offer.
  • Align the channels to one another. The above doesn’t mean that you cannot use social media at all for maintaining the relationship with your target group. After all, you can align social media and email in your content calendar. This allows you to regularly approach your customers and prospects with relevant content, without giving them the feeling that you are bothering them too often on a particular channel.
  • Combine data. Perhaps the most valuable step in successfully combining your activities in the area of email marketing and social media. You could export addresses of people with specific interests from your email database to your social advertising tool. This way you can also approach them with relevant content there. Or even better: it allows you to target people on social media at a specific moment in the customer journey where email isn’t effective.

Do not forget the GDPR

It is important to bear in mind that you cannot casually use data from your email marketing database for social targeting. After all, The GDPR stipulates that you must inform people about how you handle their data. They have to give you explicit permission to use their data. Make sure to refer to your privacy statement when acquiring an email address. It should let customers know how their data is used.

Want to find out more? 

We would like to introduce you to the power of Webpower. Would you like to receive specific information about how to make optimal use of the benefits of email marketing? Are you interested to know how you can use Webpower to develop a social media relationship with the opt-ins you have collected? We know everything about this topic. We would also like to tell you about the insights our platform can give you to optimise your social activities. Contact us for a free demo today!

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